Guardian Updates on Iter Fusion Project

A new article in the Guardian newspaper looks at the current state of the Iter nuclear fusion project, and reports that the international partnership of governments that is backing it is ready to invest $18 billion in order to get it on track to start producing  useful clean energy power plants as soon as possible. The major push now at Iter is to build a massive tokamak magnetic reactor, three times as heavy as the Eiffel Tower, to contain the plasma needed to allow for the fusion reaction.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/02/after-60-years-is-nuclear-fusion-finally-poised-to-deliver

From the article:

Iter’s schedule is to create the first plasma in 2025, then start firing tiny 5mm frozen pellets of heavy hydrogen – deuterium and tritium – into the plasma and generating energy. Deuterium is easily refined from seawater and fuses with tritium, which is harvested from fission reactors but could be self-generated in Iter in future. The aim is to reach its maximum power output by 2035 and, if so, Iter will be the foundation of the first fusion power plants.

The optimistic goal is to have plants producing useful power, with a COP of around 10 for practical purposes by 2050. That seems a long way off, but in the eyes of the project leaders it’s not too long to wait given the potential long-term benefits to mankind.

Bernard Bigot, the director general of Iter tells the Guardian “The world needs to know if this technology is available or not. Fusion could help deliver the energy supplies of the world for a very long time, maybe forever . . . People have to realise, if we want a breakthrough [that could provide energy] for millions of years, 10 or 20 years is nothing.”

Many people are hoping that bringing LENR to market does not take as much time or money as fusion projects. Andrea Rossi says he hopes to introduce practical E-Cat products in 2018; me356 has stated he is focused on making domestic heaters (no timeframe has been announced yet) — but so far there are no guarantees for any of them.

  • Gerrit

    2025, wow that’s well before Rossi’s ecat will hit the market.

  • Martin Lund

    2050, wow that’s well before Rossi’s ecat will hit the market.

  • Gerard McEk

    LENR is quite uncertain because I believe we do not have proven that it can be done in the vast scale that is needed to be an alternative for the hydrocarbons. I Hope Andrea or anybody else in the field will show us differently next year.
    Hot fusion is even more uncertain, because they say testing it will bring us beyond 2025. The rest should be regarded as looking into the crystal ball.
    Fission power is slowly being stopped in the Western world, but sun and wind power will not be able to catch up. Oil and gas are running out. Only coal is left.
    There are dark times ahead if our governments don’t take steps to ensure that sufficient power will be available in the coming 20 years. I hope that they realize that every potential source should be properly investigated, also if main stream nuclear scientists say that it can’t work. There are too many examples that these scientists may be wrong.
    Governments, do something!

    • US_Citizen71

      There is more oil in the oil shale under the Colorado Rockies than crude oil under Saudi Arabia. It is not as bleak as you seem to think.

      • Omega Z

        Burning through 36+ Billion barrels a year, in 40 years there wont be a whole lot extractable that will be economical to use.

      • Gerard McEk

        I know there is still a lot, but at the moment it cannot be produced at the speed it is used, the price will sharply rise. The higher the scarcity the higher the price. This will again drop the world economy in a crisis as it has done before. We are now about at that level and it surely doesn’t feel good.

  • Pekka Janhunen

    There is some consensus that DT plasma burns if the reactor is big enough. But, “[tritium] is harvested from fission reactors but could be self-generated in Iter in future.” With pure DT reaction, tritium breeding from neutrons and Li6 would have to be 100% efficient, which is not possible. Hence one needs to do something else, like burn at so high temperature that also some DD reactions occur. But that increases the challenge.

    And then there is the neutron flux problem, the walls become radioactive.

    Getting DT plasma burn doesn’t help much if one doesn’t have tritium to burn or if side effects of burning it yield costly and frequent reactor refurbishings.

    • Omega Z

      If you back track through history, hot fusion became an item when the Soviet Union collapsed. What to do with all those unemployed Physicists so that they don’t go to work for other nations building nuclear weapons. They do after all have families to feed and bills to pay. It was a big concern to the U.S. and Russia. The ITER project was born. It doesn’t natter if it’s practical or economical. It employees the Physicists for (Many)decades. ITER isn’t the only hot fusion project. Russia and China have their own projects as well.

      • Pekka Janhunen

        In general I think that most if not all things that get seriously funded have some military connection: ICF, lasers, radars, telescopes, particle accelerators, launch vehicles, satellites… In case of plasma fusion, maybe the connection is indeed what you said.

    • TVulgaris

      A point I’ve been parroting for decades- HF probably IS the single solution to the world’s energy supply, but you wind up with TONS of radioactive waste from the reactor itself.

  • Martin Lund

    lol, my comment was removed. So, it is true, Americans don’t understand sarcasm/irony. Either that or we have a snowflake situation.

  • Bob Greenyer

    They will loose 30 years of taxes on oil, gas, and supply of electricity. Also, they will loose options to scare people about climate change and food shortages. Also, without the need for uranium and HCs, what will the point of war be? Imagine all those high-ticket killing devices that wouldn’t have a market.

    They know exactly what they are doing.

    • TVulgaris

      Those with power will always seek to maintain that power, they’ll just come up with different levers to cause and different modalities to conduct war. Some munitions manufacturers might suffer, but I doubt any of the large ones haven’t already gamed this scenario at least 35 years ago (remember when rapprochement with the USSR was going to take nuclear war off the table?).

  • Alan DeAngelis

    They could get the tritium from a F&P reaction.

  • Alan DeAngelis

    Yes, it’s the proper way to approach fusion.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_mzLagHJOI

  • Eyedoc

    But that’s would defeat the whole point, don’t you see.

  • georgehants

    The world is a
    dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but
    because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

    Albert Einstein
    Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/albert_einstein_143096
    The world is a
    dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but
    because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

    Albert Einstein
    Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/albert_einstein_143096

  • Thomas Kaminski

    From an April Reuters article: “SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s wind and solar sectors could attract as much as 5.4 trillion yuan ($782 billion) in investment between 2016 and 2030 as the country tries to meet its renewable energy targets, according to a research report published on Tuesday.”

    20X ITER and it is likely to produce a lot more power than ITER will trough 2050.

  • Bob Greenyer

    Rich rarely suffer in their lifetime.