Science Is One Step Closer to Harnessing The Power of Nuclear Fusion

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Science Is One Step Closer to Harnessing The Power of Nuclear Fusion

For the first time, scientists have produced more energy from a reaction in a fuel source than was put into the fuel, bringing us one step closer to harnessing the power of nuclear fusion.

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have taken a huge leap forward in the ongoing pursuit of an effective way to wield the power of nuclear fusion. While their experiment did not yield an impressive amount of energy, it revealed a process that may point them towards a controlled, sustainable fusion reaction. Nuclear fusion is the same process that powers the Sun, and if effectively harnessed, would be a source of abundant, safe power.

Omar Hurricane, the experiment's lead physicist, claims that his team produced more energy from a reaction in its fuel source than was put into the fuel. "You're not going to power a car with it. You're not going to power a house with it," Hurricane said. "It'll be a while before we address all the needed scientific challenges and then the engineering challenges to make it more practical, but we're excited. It's a great step forward scientifically."

The experiment involved the implosion of a tiny pellet holding two hydrogen isotopes, and while the resulting outputted energy was not dramatic, the reaction produced a heating effect that appeared to boost the energy output. It is this effect, which Hurricane's team has dubbed "bootstrapping," which may lead scientists to eventually produce a reaction that yields more energy than it consumes.

"It sounds very modest, and it is," Hurricane said. "But this is kind of closer than anyone's gotten before, and it is very unique to finally get as much energy out of the fuel as was put into the fuel."

Source: CNN

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I saw a special one time that said we were fairly close to this already. He problem they said, was a lack of abundant helium-3 which they have found is more available on the moon. Proof that we need a moon base for the future of humanity.

I'll admit it; I only had a passing interest in this story until I saw the name of the lead physicist...

Name like that, you're either a heavyweight boxer or a super villain. :D

You've got my interest, Mr. Hurricane.

martyrdrebel27:
I saw a special one time that said we were fairly close to this already. He problem they said, was a lack of abundant helium-3 which they have found is more available on the moon. Proof that we need a moon base for the future of humanity.

This reaction used two hydrogen isotopes not helium.

Most likely deuterium (hydrogen-2), this can be fount in sea water as D2O (heavy water).

If i'm not mistaking this will produce helium-3.

Kmadden2004:
I'll admit it; I only had a passing interest in this story until I saw the name of the lead physicist...

Name like that, you're either a heavyweight boxer or a super villain. :D

Vigormortis:

You've got my interest, Mr. Hurricane.

Dr. Hurricane, no less. That's even more bad-ass.

At any rate, this is really, really cool, despite the fact that from a practical standpoint it doesn't mean much. Just the fact that they were able to do it at all is stunning.

Dr. Hurricane is playing with Fusion Reactions.

COME ON PEOPLE! This is the Villain's origin story. We are so screwed.

I love this. Great science. Dr. Hurricane will either lead humanity into prosperity or destruction depending on how he wields the awesome power of his name.

I believe this statement is appropriate now:

This has always been the power source of the future, renewables have nothing on working fusion technology for clean energy and the fuels used are far cheaper than the rare elements used in solar panels.

FancyNick:
I love this. Great science. Dr. Hurricane will either lead humanity into prosperity or destruction depending on how he wields the awesome power of his name.

Frozengale:
Dr. Hurricane is playing with Fusion Reactions.

COME ON PEOPLE! This is the Villain's origin story. We are so screwed.

A Bond villain, no less.

vallorn:
I believe this statement is appropriate now:

This has always been the power source of the future, renewables have nothing on working fusion technology for clean energy and the fuels used are far cheaper than the rare elements used in solar panels.

Awesome. How haven't I found that one yet? Thanks!

And yeah... that applies.

This may just be a baby step forward, but anything is better than no progress at all where Nuclear Fusion is concerned.

This sort of thing needs to be better funded... and sadly I don't think that'll happen until the public at large gets over its phobia for anything with the word "nuclear" in it.

Nuclear Fusion has a great deal of potential... and could, if harnessed properly... permanently end the energy crisis... or at least be an important step towards eliminating energy droughts.

Yes, the world is unclear when it comes to nuclear.

I regret nothing.

martyrdrebel27:
I saw a special one time that said we were fairly close to this already. He problem they said, was a lack of abundant helium-3 which they have found is more available on the moon. Proof that we need a moon base for the future of humanity.

I saw this exact same thing. I have also heard there are other countries trying to do this exact same thing and get people on the moon for a future "moon base". How much of that is true I know not. One thing I can say however that I do believe helium-3 will greatly increase our chances of finding new energy production.

Except I'm pretty sure we've done this sort of thing before, and also we still didn't get back anywhere near the amount of energy that the laser used, because 99% of that energy is dispersed before it even gets into the fuel. That's currently the big problem with fusion, not getting out more energy than we put in the fuel, but getting more out than we expend in the whole process.

We're still quite a way off.

For the first time, scientists have produced more energy from a reaction in a fuel source than was put into the fuel, bringing us one step closer to harnessing the power of nuclear fusion.

I think Dr. Hurricane should rephrase that. If what he said was literally true, he just broke the first law of thermodynamics.

Also yes, Dr. Hurricane's name is either his Supervillain name or a descriptor of his sex life.

SL33TBL1ND:

We're still quite a way off.

It seems to me like we are always "quite a way off" on just about everything. For all the advancements in medicine, robotics, nuclear fusion, or whatever reported all over the news and net, it seems like there's no real effort made to make any of it actually be completed. It's always "a few years away" and a decade or so later there's no noticeable progress being made.

We've been getting announcements like this every few years since the 90's.
I'll definitely put one of these on my flying car.

Sigh. It doesn't do anything useful yet, but it's completely safe. Pretty sure they said that about nuclear energy and every other energy tech while they're trying to get it funded.

DoctorM:
We've been getting announcements like this every few years since the 90's.
I'll definitely put one of these on my flying car.

Sigh. It doesn't do anything useful yet, but it's completely safe. Pretty sure they said that about nuclear energy and every other energy tech while they're trying to get it funded.

I'm putting one in my hoverboard, you know, when I get one in 2015.

Evil Smurf:

DoctorM:
We've been getting announcements like this every few years since the 90's.
I'll definitely put one of these on my flying car.

Sigh. It doesn't do anything useful yet, but it's completely safe. Pretty sure they said that about nuclear energy and every other energy tech while they're trying to get it funded.

I'm putting one in my hoverboard, you know, when I get one in 2015.

Mattel better pull through on that one. Otherwise there'll be a riot from B2F2 fans en masse. No doubt there will be blood... carnage... all sorts of apocalyptic behavior, all because they didn't deliver on a fictional promise. Also the Cubs must find a way to change their league status and face Miami in the World Series and win. And we need about 12 JAWS movies to be released this year so we can have JAWS 16.
It must happen or the space-time continuum will rupture and not even Marty and Doc Brown will be able to save us.

SL33TBL1ND:
Except I'm pretty sure we've done this sort of thing before, and also we still didn't get back anywhere near the amount of energy that the laser used, because 99% of that energy is dispersed before it even gets into the fuel. That's currently the big problem with fusion, not getting out more energy than we put in the fuel, but getting more out than we expend in the whole process.

We're still quite a way off.

Assuming that this is replicatable, this would be the first technique that actually achieved a net positive reaction. Now as you said there is a key distinction between a net-positive reaction and and a net-positive reactor. Though the fact that the whole system is energy negative is less important. Namely because an experiment like this isn't concerened with system efficiency but with proof-of-concept. From the details i've been able to find (i'm not paying 35 dollars to download the journal) they used a multi-gigawatt laser to deliver a minute 17kJ. I've been unable to find any numbers for exactly how much energy was actually generated, but the greater point being that in an actual commercial system the laser would be designed to have a vastly lower energy differential.

Yes, it will be awesome when they discover that and make it viable.

Practically over night huge parts of the world economy are going to crash since the price for fossil fuels will drop drastically. Maybe most of the big oil companies will go belly-up in the process! If enough of them do, then the price for drugs and plastic will sky-rocket, since those things need oil too, but without enough companies around to supply the demand, it might turn out nasty. Even so you will have thousands of persons from the gasoline, oil and motor industry that will need re-education or will simply be out of work once we can produce an abundance of energy through fusion.

Of course there also is the possibility that the oil companies just all chip in to buy the patents for the fusion process to lock them up in a safe until they feel like they have made enough money off oil.

Maybe I am exaggerating, but I don't see a potential paradigm-shift like nuclear fusion as entirely positive.

immortalfrieza:

For the first time, scientists have produced more energy from a reaction in a fuel source than was put into the fuel, bringing us one step closer to harnessing the power of nuclear fusion.

I think Dr. Hurricane should rephrase that. If what he said was literally true, he just broke the first law of thermodynamics.

If he were also claiming that the hydrogen was conserved in the reaction than you would be correct. But the energy coming out is the byproducts of the fusion of hydrogen into helium triggered by the energy going in (x-rays in this case). The excessive energy is generated from the hydrogen, not the input radiation, so there's no conservation violation.

edited for clarity

TheDoctor455:

This may just be a baby step forward, but anything is better than no progress at all where Nuclear Fusion is concerned.

This sort of thing needs to be better funded... and sadly I don't think that'll happen until the public at large gets over its phobia for anything with the word "nuclear" in it.

Nuclear Fusion has a great deal of potential... and could, if harnessed properly... permanently end the energy crisis... or at least be an important step towards eliminating energy droughts.

As great the the potential is of Nuclear Fusion is, I don't see that we will ever be able to use it until we ether create viable containment substance that is preposterously energy/heat immune or energy shielding/force fields that cost less energy than the reaction they keep contained.

Spiderman 2 may not have been any kind of factual movie, but it did get one thing right, containment of any decent size Fusion core is going to be an unbelievably difficult.

We could easily destroy our entire planet with one out of control Fusion core.

Plus there is the blinding issue no one ever thinks about/mentions, a blinding issue in that the brightness of light a real Fusion core puts out if even 1% of the brightness of the sun would burn out people retinas who looked at it directly without some kind of super light filter.

Movies and Sci-fi like to skip over that issue allot, if people ever got as close to the sun as they often do in Movies and Sci-fi they would all go blind, the human eye cannot take that level of light. Hell the sun at the distance we are now can still potentially damage people eye sight if they look directly at it.

Next step: commission a harness with robotic tendrils to control emissions from a miniature sun.

After that: Kill Spider-man!

Endocrom:
Next step: commission a harness with robotic tendrils to control emissions from a miniature sun.

After that: Kill Spider-man!

Yes. Yes.

And we can call him...Professor Cephalopod!

Exterminas:
Yes, it will be awesome when they discover that and make it viable.

Practically over night huge parts of the world economy are going to crash since the price for fossil fuels will drop drastically. Maybe most of the big oil companies will go belly-up in the process! If enough of them do, then the price for drugs and plastic will sky-rocket, since those things need oil too, but without enough companies around to supply the demand, it might turn out nasty. Even so you will have thousands of persons from the gasoline, oil and motor industry that will need re-education or will simply be out of work once we can produce an abundance of energy through fusion.

Of course there also is the possibility that the oil companies just all chip in to buy the patents for the fusion process to lock them up in a safe until they feel like they have made enough money off oil.

Maybe I am exaggerating, but I don't see a potential paradigm-shift like nuclear fusion as entirely positive.

Or life could just go on.

Sure there will be a dip at the announcement, but announcements mean diddly. People will still want power and any theoretical power station will take time to build, electric car infrastructure will take time to design, and long distance transportation by sea and air will largely be unaffected.

There will be some shocks but your 'worse case scenario' is entering crazy pundits levels of paranoia.

Well new ideas are always welcome, but this doesn't just solve the problem because the energy conversion process is what kills fusion reactors.

Tokamak reactors can't get to a net positive because there are gigantic losses while heating up the fuel, while trying to catch all the heat and converting the heat back to electricity, also important to note plenty of energy escaping the fusion comes as particles we can't yet harness and those meanwhile tear through the shielding.
Reactions itself are plenty energetic it's just our inadequate tech that makes the package shit.

walrusaurus:

immortalfrieza:

For the first time, scientists have produced more energy from a reaction in a fuel source than was put into the fuel, bringing us one step closer to harnessing the power of nuclear fusion.

I think Dr. Hurricane should rephrase that. If what he said was literally true, he just broke the first law of thermodynamics.

If he were also claiming that the hydrogen was conserved in the reaction than you would be correct. But the energy coming out is the byproducts of the fusion of hydrogen triggered by the energy going in (x-rays in this case). The excessive energy is generated from the hydrogen, not the input radiation, so there's conservation violation.

Fuel is potential energy, so al the energy it outputs was used to create it.
Hold a rock up and it has potential energy
When you drop it all potential energy convert to kinetic energy along the drop.

On that note, how how much energy is needed to make the tiny pellet holding two hydrogen isotopes?
If you want a sustained reaction you wil need a lot of them.
Distiling it from sea water, transport, ect. all count in the energy cost. (probably not for the conservation law)
Even collecting, storing and transporting the energy costs energy.

They need a much higher yeild to make up for all that.

Angelous Wang:
[quote="TheDoctor455" post="7.842319.20721747"]

(...)

Spiderman 2 may not have been any kind of factual movie, but it did get one thing right, containment of any decent size Fusion core is going to be an unbelievably difficult.

We could easily destroy our entire planet with one out of control Fusion core.

Plus there is the blinding issue no one ever thinks about/mentions, a blinding issue in that the brightness of light a real Fusion core puts out if even 1% of the brightness of the sun would burn out people retinas who looked at it directly without some kind of super light filter.

Movies and Sci-fi like to skip over that issue allot, if people ever got as close to the sun as they often do in Movies and Sci-fi they would all go blind, the human eye cannot take that level of light. Hell the sun at the distance we are now can still potentially damage people eye sight if they look directly at it.

Containment of a fusion reaction is actually pretty easy, because it's taking place in a plasma. So magnets do the trick.
And no, no commercial fusion reactor could ever destroy a planet. The biggest problem we have with fusion reaction is, that the plasma cools too fast and the reaction stops. So shutting down a reactor should be pretty easy. Also: Who the fuck would be so dumb to look directly into the reactor without any safetymeasures?! That's a complete nonissue. The biggest problem with fusion in my opinion is the release of neutrons during the reaction which causes extrem strains on the reactor materials and turns them radioactive.

I think it's pretty hilarious how many people think they know more about fusion reactions and their viability than the people actually working on them.

Jeeez, poor guy - imagine introducing yourself to people and saying "My name is Dr. Hurricane and I'm a Nuclear Physicist." - everyone probably thinks he's screwing with them. The girls probably think it's some Baney Stintson-style scam. It might sound awesome, but it probably sounds TOO AWESOME...

I knew a chap called De'ath who earned his PhD in animal behaviour (particularly behaviour in chickens). Doc Hurricane and Doctor De'ath - plasma and poultry.

I live near the JET lab (which is the largest fusion reactor in Europe). There was recently a Radio 4 programme (Inside science) which had a great interview with someone working on the equipment used to measure and interrogate the plasma state inside the reaction chamber.

Given it's BBC material - I don't know if this is available outside of the UK, but you never know. It does seem that this kind of exciting industrial science does need some expert information available to inform and educate.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/inscience

This is good. very good. Fusion can produce much more energy than fission and leaves no radioactive waste behind. If we could have fusion plans we could have cheap electricity for all.

Omar Hurricane, the experiment's lead physicist

I swear the physicists all have weird names just to troll us.

martyrdrebel27:
I saw a special one time that said we were fairly close to this already. He problem they said, was a lack of abundant helium-3 which they have found is more available on the moon. Proof that we need a moon base for the future of humanity.

we can dig it with shovels on the moon. Well not really but its that abundant on the surface of the moon.

Jeroenr:

martyrdrebel27:
I saw a special one time that said we were fairly close to this already. He problem they said, was a lack of abundant helium-3 which they have found is more available on the moon. Proof that we need a moon base for the future of humanity.

This reaction used two hydrogen isotopes not helium.

Most likely deuterium (hydrogen-2), this can be fount in sea water as D2O (heavy water).

If i'm not mistaking this will produce helium-3.

Both deuterium and helium-3 is needed for helium-3 reactions though, which granted arent Fusion but something more powerful.

vallorn:
This has always been the power source of the future, renewables have nothing on working fusion technology for clean energy and the fuels used are far cheaper than the rare elements used in solar panels.

This. renewables are not pwoerful enough to meet our needs and with ever increasing needs they wont be. Thermal energy from earth might be in some locations but thats expensive to set up. nuclear power was always the future and people running to shut down the plans are simply suiciding.

immortalfrieza:

It seems to me like we are always "quite a way off" on just about everything. For all the advancements in medicine, robotics, nuclear fusion, or whatever reported all over the news and net, it seems like there's no real effort made to make any of it actually be completed. It's always "a few years away" and a decade or so later there's no noticeable progress being made.

Oh, were making progress. just look at what medicine had acess to, say, 10 years ago compared to now. we made a lot of progress, its just that such progress rarely gets splat out all over the news (because people would rather read at what dress some star wears) and largely goes unnoticed until you actually end up on the receiving end.

amaranth_dru:

Mattel better pull through on that one. Otherwise there'll be a riot from B2F2 fans en masse. No doubt there will be blood... carnage... all sorts of apocalyptic behavior, all because they didn't deliver on a fictional promise.

But, being injustice league, we should be endorsing such behaviuor!

Exterminas:

Practically over night huge parts of the world economy are going to crash since the price for fossil fuels will drop drastically. Maybe most of the big oil companies will go belly-up in the process! If enough of them do, then the price for drugs and plastic will sky-rocket, since those things need oil too, but without enough companies around to supply the demand, it might turn out nasty. Even so you will have thousands of persons from the gasoline, oil and motor industry that will need re-education or will simply be out of work once we can produce an abundance of energy through fusion.
<...>
Maybe I am exaggerating, but I don't see a potential paradigm-shift like nuclear fusion as entirely positive.

It wont. As it is now, only small part of oil is used for actual electricity making, and we are not putting those things in our cars any time soon. nor can we make plastics out of it. hard fuel (coal for example) and gases (maybe this will make fracking stop finally) are the majority share in our energy manufacturing, also nuclear fission. renewables are also good in a few countries that have plenty of them (norway for example have plenty of winds in the mountains and use it to power their aluminium factories).
The main use for oil - transport fuel and plastics - will not drop soon. after all electric car didnt revolutionize the market yet despite being around for a decade. With time, we will change that gradually. as far as plastics go, we already got solutinos like liquid wood, and for massi usage like plstic bags in shops - those are ALREADY made out of organic material and not oil as part of enviromental programme here in EU. the thing is - they degrade over time so you have around 1 year or so usage of a "one-time-use" plastic bag. wont make much problem for majority of users though. they are as cheap as plastic ones.
It not entirely possitive for everyone - for example somone cant make billions of profit off energy prices. However it is a net positive as a whole. also do note the fact that oil IS running out, and it will have to be changed no matter what, its only a question of "with what".

Angelous Wang:

As great the the potential is of Nuclear Fusion is, I don't see that we will ever be able to use it until we ether create viable containment substance that is preposterously energy/heat immune or energy shielding/force fields that cost less energy than the reaction they keep contained.

we already do that with fission reactors though. even in worst casse scenario of reactor meltdown the "Shielding" dome we built as a mandatory regulation makes sure that radiation will not leak for hundreds of years. they had to manually override security system to open a walve in Japan and that was a 60 years old reactor, one of the "old ones with poor security" types. you know, the ones that no longer exist in US or europe due to being regualted out (my country had the last one and we were forced to shut it down when joining EU).
So we already are capable.

Plus there is the blinding issue no one ever thinks about/mentions, a blinding issue in that the brightness of light a real Fusion core puts out if even 1% of the brightness of the sun would burn out people retinas who looked at it directly without some kind of super light filter.

And if you looked directly into nuclear fission reactor your retinas would also be burned out by radiation. but we dont.

Kmadden2004:
I'll admit it; I only had a passing interest in this story until I saw the name of the lead physicist...

Name like that, you're either a heavyweight boxer or a super villain. :D

When he holds the world hostage in exchange for a Nobel Prize do you think he will ask for this as his intro music?

Hopefully Doctor Rock and Professor Roll will save us.

I'm totally in favour of any significant progression in energy technology, by far the most important challenge for us in the near future. We need something new and good NOW.

However, while I was totally hot for fusion for the longest time, I can't say that I am now. It's simply going to last us too long to develop these things and get them commercial.

Sun / wind can be part of the energy mix but I have zero trust in them as well. They require rare earths to function (geopolitics here we come!) and our biodiversity will go to hell if we need to put them everywhere. And we will need to put them everywhere if we wonna have enough power. Something which will not happen due to politics either, evidenced by the sad numbers for renewable energy across the globe.

I'm convinced that the near future lies with thorium molten salt fission reactors. It's unbelievable to know the history of those things, how humanity went with the comparatively crappy alternative of solid state reactors because it was something everyone knew and we'd developed weapons in the same way.

You should watch the heartfelt explanation by this guy here (Kirk Sorensen, former Nasa scientist): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbyr7jZOllI.

Some other lecture: http://www.thoriumenergyalliance.com/index.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_reactor

Not saying we should just stop fusion research though, but I don't think we're in the position to skip steps of the ladder when we're still reliant on so many primitive energy sources now.

Luckily I've seen a growing amount of media attention for the above in the last few months. The Chinese got the message long ago though.

amaranth_dru:

Evil Smurf:

DoctorM:
We've been getting announcements like this every few years since the 90's.
I'll definitely put one of these on my flying car.

Sigh. It doesn't do anything useful yet, but it's completely safe. Pretty sure they said that about nuclear energy and every other energy tech while they're trying to get it funded.

I'm putting one in my hoverboard, you know, when I get one in 2015.

Mattel better pull through on that one. Otherwise there'll be a riot from B2F2 fans en masse. No doubt there will be blood... carnage... all sorts of apocalyptic behavior, all because they didn't deliver on a fictional promise. Also the Cubs must find a way to change their league status and face Miami in the World Series and win. And we need about 12 JAWS movies to be released this year so we can have JAWS 16.
It must happen or the space-time continuum will rupture and not even Marty and Doc Brown will be able to save us.

PFFT, make like a tree, and get out of here, nerd. I don't care, I have a sports almanac!

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