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#16374 - 11/21/06 05:24 PM Green light for nuclear fusion project
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
A seven-member international consortium signed a formal agreement on Tuesday to build a multibillion-dollar experimental nuclear fusion reactor that will emulate the nuclear processes of the Sun.

"This is a new step in an exceptional adventure," French President Jacques Chirac said at the signing ceremony in Paris, France. The project aims to research a clean and limitless alternative to dwindling fossil fuel reserves, although nuclear fusion remains an unproven technology.

Source and the rest of the story at:
http://www.newscientisttech.com/article/dn10633-green-light-for-nuclear-fusion-project.html
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#16375 - 11/21/06 08:47 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
dr_rocket Offline
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Registered: 12/06/06
Posts: 196
Loc: Palo Alto, CA, USA
Hi All,

This is an interesting article. The French are pushing ITER again. Perhaps they will succeed. To be fair there are opponents of this project. (Only to be expected.)

This Wiki article give some of the opposing points of view:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER

The ITER people think that they have this all together. You can find their take on it here:

http://www.iter.org/

Unless the population of the world drops precipitously we will eventually need an alternate source of energy. Fusion is only one candidate.

Dr. R.

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#16376 - 11/21/06 09:46 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
My preference would be a precipitous but voluntary decrease in population. It would solve a lot of problems from education to fresh water to global warming to funds for building roads not to mention that nasty issue of needing increasing energy resources.

But alas people continue to hold dear their mindless, unconscious, biologically driven need to reproduce.

Thus we need ITER. Even if it doesn't work. Even if it is just a very expensive basic research project. We need it.
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#16377 - 11/22/06 03:28 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
esin Offline
Member

Registered: 06/04/05
Posts: 60
Loc: LI, NY
Hi DA, et al,

There are(imo) no problems that an unlimited source of cheap energy could not solve.

That said, subsidized combustion of 'ancient carbonaceous matter' is coming to an end. How that end comes, is 'our' choice. We can end it ourselves - and derive energy from cheaper renewable wind, hydroelectric, solar and geothermal, and we can build integral fast reactor plants and eliminate our nuclear waste problem as we provide safe, clean, virtually unlimited \'free\' energy .

The other choice is to let nature end it. We can allow the supply of energy to diminish as society's thirst for it grows. We can burn residual heavy oils and coal,,, thereby dramatically offsetting the balance of the C02 equilibrium and allow the laws of thermodynamics to make our decision for us... Your 'preference', thereby, realized~

While ITER seems a pleasant enough diversion it does not help as much as it detracts from the real need for practicable alternatives, needed now. A fraction of the monies spent on ITER would go a long way toward the realization of the potentials that exist, now, for clean, affordable, limitless energy~

*Disclaimer* ... and though I am quite sure you are well aware of all of the above,,, it needs to be said, now and then,,, to remind, perhaps inspire, a mind or two ~regards

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#16378 - 11/22/06 05:17 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
Count Iblis II Offline
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Registered: 01/21/05
Posts: 375
Quote:
While ITER seems a pleasant enough diversion it does not help as much as it detracts from the real need for practicable alternatives, needed now. A fraction of the monies spent on ITER would go a long way toward the realization of the potentials that exist, now, for clean, affordable, limitless energy~
That's not true. The total money spend per year on research on renewable energy is a few billion dollars per year, which is of the same order as will be spend per year on ITER over the coming few years.

The problem is not that there is a shortage of money and that we have to do one or the other. The core of the problem is actually exactly the opposite. We are too rich and we are using too much energy. The total money we spend on renewable energy, nuclear fusion etc. is a tiny fraction of the money spend on energy consumption.

To put the costs of building ITER into perspective: The London Olymics will cost more to organize and the money spend by the US in Iraq in 6 weeks will buy you one ITER.


All this talk about money reminds me of this joke about an obese person who was told by his doctor to join a fitness club to lose some weight. The man said to his doctor: "I don't have the money for that. If I join that fitness club I can't afford to go to McDonald's three times per day anymore" laugh

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#16379 - 11/22/06 07:59 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
esin wrote:
"There are(imo) no problems that an unlimited source of cheap energy could not solve."

I can think of many it would not solve. Of the problems that I faced in my life in the last 24 hours not one of them would or could be solved b unlimited free energy. Most could be solved if people started using birth control.

I know this isn't a physics question ... but isn't it about time that humans, who have developed systems to limit that natural urge to murder and systems to limit the natural urge to steal ... developed social and cultural systems to limit a mindless, unconscious, brain-dead, desire to reproduce?
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#16380 - 11/23/06 02:17 AM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
Kate Offline

Senior Member

Registered: 10/16/04
Posts: 334
Same old, same old...

The article I read about the fusion deal said that fusion power was "twenty years away". Why is it always 20 years away? When will it be 19 years away?!?

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#16381 - 11/23/06 03:40 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
esin Offline
Member

Registered: 06/04/05
Posts: 60
Loc: LI, NY
Greetings Count,

Quote:
That's not true. The total money spend per year on research on renewable energy is a few billion dollars per year, which is of the same order as will be spend per year on ITER over the coming few years.
Contrast that statement, if you will, to the following;
Quote:
Although no full-sized IFR plant has been built, several facts suggest that the IFR will be very economic . Costs of today's nuclear plants are just slightly above that of coal as a national average. Several nuclear plants have operated with costs significantly below that of coal however. A new IFR should cost less than either a new nuclear (typical of today's technology) or coal plant based on the following. The IFR does not require some of the complex systems that today's reactors require. Examples include the low level radwaste cleanup station, the emergency core cooling system, and fewer control rod drives and control rods for comparable power. Because of the low pressure in the sodium systems, less steel is required for the plant piping and reactor vessel. There are studies that suggest that the reactor containment will be less massive. Other cost savings will be made because the IFR does not require the services of the Isotopic Separation Plants for fuel enrichment. Additional costs to the IFR include the integral fuel reprocessing capability, and a secondary sodium system (but the IFR fuel process costs are somewhat offset by the extremely low cost for raw fuel and the improved waste product). Some studies have been done which indicate that an IFR would be very economical and competitive to build, own, and operate... but the final proof of economics can only come in the construction and operation of a commercial sized plant.
I would remind, here, that IFR has tested to theory.
Quote:
The man said to his doctor: "I don't have the money for that. If I join that fitness club I can't afford to go to McDonald's three times per day anymore"
He he! Though, we're about comparing apples to oranges. On one hand we have a tested, clean, economical, fuel in hand for many years to come, environmentally sound energy source. On the other hand, however, we have a very interesting potential, replete with very real limits to our ability to cope with the potentials, once realized (vortices).

I'm all for the research and the promise. That, however, was not the point of my post. Real, viable sources of clean energy, now, was ~regards

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#16382 - 11/23/06 03:55 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
esin Offline
Member

Registered: 06/04/05
Posts: 60
Loc: LI, NY
Greetings DA, thanks for the smile. Semantics, really, yet, I will endeavor to answer~
Quote:
... but isn't it about time that humans, who have developed systems to limit that natural urge to murder and systems to limit the natural urge to steal ... developed social and cultural systems to limit a mindless, unconscious, brain-dead, desire to reproduce?
Our little home, with limitless, cheap, clean energy could easily support twice our number. Social morays, memes are in place. They continue to evolve. Perhaps in the interim, we will get a handle on those urges;) ~regards

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#16383 - 11/23/06 06:55 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
It will never be 19 years away. "20 years" is just a euphemism for "some day."

It will instantly go from 20 years to 4 years if ITER is successful.
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#16384 - 11/23/06 05:59 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
esin posted:
"Costs of today's nuclear plants are just slightly above that of coal as a national average."

I'm not sure the providence of this quote but it is pure unadulterated nonsense.

The cost of today's nuclear plants is horrendously more expensive than that of coal if you made the industry pay the cost of the research, the cost of the cleanup, and more importantly the cost for the next 10,000+ years of babysitting its refuse.

The industry would not be economically viable were it not for a corporate welfare system subsidized by John Q. Taxpayer.
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#16385 - 11/23/06 08:25 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
esin Offline
Member

Registered: 06/04/05
Posts: 60
Loc: LI, NY
Quote:
The cost of today's nuclear plants is horrendously more expensive than that of coal if you made the industry pay the cost of the research, the cost of the cleanup, and more importantly the cost for the next 10,000+ years of babysitting its refuse.
"We've" already paid for the (IFR)research. While the 40..50 billion into ITER (so far) percolates,,, why not let's save our iteration of 'civilization',,, that of the industrialized nations of the world;)
Quote:
Basically, reprocessing IFR fuel consists of two simple steps: 1. fission fragments are removed from the fuel, and 2. unused fuel is recovered, along with the transuranic elements (sometimes called actinides). Normally, the transuranic elements would go to the waste stream with the fission products, but in the IFR, they are kept with the fuel and sent back to the reactor to also serve as fuel. In the above description, note that the waste stream consists of only the fission products. The result is that instead of a waste that remains radioactive for many thousands of years, as would be the case if the transuranic elements were present, the radioactivity in the waste will decay to a value less than that of the original uranium ore in about 200 years
Vitrify them, dump these into the caverness depths, and forget about them~
Quote:
"..it became obvious to us that one could put a total reactor concept together that would at the same time give you safety of a kind that reactors today don't have, that would allow complete recycling of the fuel, and thus extension of the ability to produce energy (very roughly, by a factor of 100), and also a waste product that did not contain the most dangerous elements. So with one concept you attack all of the principal real issues that there are for the use of nuclear energy."

Interview w/ Dr Charles Till
Nuclear physicist and associate lab director at Argonne National Laboratory West in Idaho. He is co-developer of the Integral Fast Reactor, an inherently safe nuclear reactor with a closed fuel cycle.

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#16386 - 11/23/06 09:54 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
DA Morgan Offline
Megastar

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
esin wrote:
""We've" already paid for the (IFR)research. While the 40..50 billion into ITER (so far) percolates,,, why not let's save our iteration of 'civilization',,, that of the industrialized nations of the world;)"

If you have a point here I fail to get it? I am totally in favor of the investment in ITER. I just object to anyone claiming our current fission reactors are remotely closely to cost-effective. They may be a lot of things but economical is not one of them.

"Vitrify them, dump these into the caverness depths, and forget about them~"

When you find a single first-world country willing to do that please let us all know.

A lovely quote from Dr. Till. When you find a single example of this in practice in a first-world country please let us all know.

Everything can be described in rosy terms when it is purely theoretical. There is no meat on the bones.
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#16387 - 11/23/06 11:44 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
esin Offline
Member

Registered: 06/04/05
Posts: 60
Loc: LI, NY
I most regretfully note that your " argument, largely nontechnical, about whether the IFR is needed or whether it would be economical " is funereal, and unfortunately, not atypical. I've included this last link as further primer on the IFR. And I would remind that the first successful tests of its viability were concluded as Pres. Clinton pulled the plug on the research (pandering to private agendas).

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#16388 - 11/23/06 11:58 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
esin Offline
Member

Registered: 06/04/05
Posts: 60
Loc: LI, NY
Quote:
The Advanced Liquid Metal Reactor
While the US DOE was supporting the ALWR program, they were also extremely active in supporting the Advanced Liquid Metal Reactor. This was primary through the activities of the Argonne National Laboratory - West and General Electric. Design concepts from Argonne West's Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) and GE's PRISM (Power Reactor Innovative Small Module) breeder reactor designs were investigated with much early success. It was planned that eventually ANLW's Experimental Breeder Reactor-II would be used to demonstrate the IFR concept. EBR-II and ANLW's Fuel Conditioning Facility is shown in the photo below.

The IFR concept involves a pool type breeder reactor, metal fuel alloy, and pyroprocess fuel cycle. Two features of the IFR make it different from all other liquid-metal reactors around the world: fuel type and fuel cycle technology. The fuel is a metallic alloy of uranium, plutonium, and zirconium. Metal fuel provides important new safety characteristics and allows the possibility of a radically simplified fuel cycle based on pyrometallurgical processes.

The passive safety characteristics of a metal-fueled ALMR were demonstrated in a landmark series of tests at the EBR-II in 1986. Two classic anticipated transient without scram (ATWS) events were simulated. In separate tests on the same day, actual station blackout and loss-of-heat-sink conditions were created from full power, with scram circuits temporarily bypassed, and with no operator intervention. In both cases, EBR-II simply shut itself down to a low-power condition where the heat was rejected by natural circulation. No damage was done to either the fuel or the reactor system.

ALMRs require a closed fuel cycle. In the IFR fuel cycle, a relatively high temperature, metal -based process is used - the pyroprocess. This is a simple batch process that involves 1) electrorefining, a single step in which fuel is dissolved and heavy metals separated from fission products by electro transport to a collector cathode; 2) cathode processing, in which heavy metals from the cathodes are purified by retorting, and cast into refined metal ingots; and 3) injection casting, in which new metal fuel rods are made.

The ALMR is designed as a safe, reliable, and economically competitive liquid-sodium-cooled fast spectrum breeder reactor power plant, with the following key features.

*Compact reactor modules sized to enable factory fabrication and shipment to either inland or water-side sites, and to permit affordable, full-scale prototype testing to confirm predicted safety and performance characteristics.
*Passive reactivity reduction during undercooling and over-power transients with failure to scram, to achieve a safe, stable state, with abundant time for shutdown to cold conditions by operator action.
*Passive decay heat removal for loss-of-heat-sink accidents that is invulnerable to operator errors and equipment failures.
*Protection against severe accidents by simple and passive safety features so that radioactive releases are small, and formal public evacuation planning and exercises are unnecessary.
*Capability for breeding more fuel than consumed.
*Optional capability to use-as fissile material for startup-either plutonium or actinide wastes from light-water reactor spent fuel or excess plutonium available due to nuclear disarmament.
*Flexibility of core design to use either the reference metal fuel or, alternatively, an oxide fuel cycle. Possibly the most positive advantage of the ALMR designs is its capability to recycle high-level, long half-life actinides back into a reactor core that fissions actinides, due to the ALMR's fast neutron energy spectrum. Fissioning of actinidies precludes their accumulation and need for subsequent disposal. This capability can reduce the management of nuclear wastes from one of tens of thousands of years to a little over 100 years.
Please note that the tests referenced, herein, were concluded eight years before the financing was pulled,,, and, that, immediately after demonstrating its(IFR) viability/promise~

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#16389 - 11/24/06 03:07 AM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
The issue with fission is not, and has never been, the reactor: It is the waste produced.

Anytime you want to come to where I live, a few short hours drive from Hanford ... I'd be happy to take you out to the reservation and show you the issue. Up front and close.
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#16390 - 11/24/06 01:49 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
esin Offline
Member

Registered: 06/04/05
Posts: 60
Loc: LI, NY
Quote:
Reprocessing of fuel is a key requirement of the IFR. However, IFR reprocessing is very different from processes which have been proposed or which are in use in other countries. Basically, reprocessing IFR fuel consists of two simple steps: 1. fission fragments are removed from the fuel, and 2. unused fuel is recovered, along with the transuranic elements (sometimes called actinides). Normally, the transuranic elements would... serve as fuel. In the above description, note that the waste stream consists of only the fission products. The result is that instead of a waste that remains radioactive for many thousands of years, as would be the case if the transuranic elements were present, the radioactivity in the waste will decay to a value less than that of the original uranium ore in about 200 years. An additional advantage to the waste side of the IFR operation is that the IFR plant produces less low-level waste than today's nuclear plants. The sodium coolant used in the IFR does not corrode the piping or structure, and, as a result, there are no radioactive corrosion products to remove from the primary system and send to a low-level radioactive waste repository. The fission product waste from an IFR type plant will amount to about 1700 pounds of waste per year for a plant of about 1000 megawatts electric output. This is in contrast to the waste from an equivalent coal plant of about 1,275,000 tons per year.
Quote:
CONCLUSION
The IFR story is important to the world because the very foundation of an industrial society depends on inexpensive and abundant energy. The IFR can provide the base energy supplies needed, and with very little impact on the environment. Mining of fuel for the IFR is not needed for several hundred years. The IFR does not produce gases or other effluents that would harm the biosphere. The long-term waste problem, of concern today, no longer is a problem with the IFR. In addition, the IFR should be economic and a safe, easy to operate plant. These features make the IFR the candidate for the next generation nuclear power plant.
Quote:
The IFR's fuel recycling recovers the fuel that is not burned in its first cycle in the reactor. That fuel is formed into new rods, placed in fuel cladding and returned to the reactor. This process is repeated until essentially all of the fuel is used to produce electricity.
Quote:
Since the IFR has so much going for it, research should be steaming full speed ahead, right?

Wouldn't you think so? Nevertheless, at the Clinton administration's urging, Congress terminated the research on October 1, 1994. The Senate voted to continue it, but the House prevailed in conference.



Well, I suppose at least we saved some of the taxpayers' money.

Wrong. Termination cost as much over the ensuing four years as finishing the research would have done, especially since the Japanese were all set to chip in $60 million.



You're kidding. Why would our government do what it did?

Combination of factors, but the main one is plain misunderstanding of the facts I have just explained to you. Well-meaning but ill-informed people claiming to be experts confused pyroprocessing with PUREX, and convinced so many administrators and legislators that the IFR was a proliferation threat that the project was killed.

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#16391 - 11/24/06 08:04 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
No country has solved the problem of storing fission byproducts.

It doesn't matter whether it is short-sighted. It doesn't matter whether it is political rather than technical. What matters is that the reality is that it can not be done given the current situation in which we find ourselves.

If the fission industry thinks it can do it ... then why isn't it? Why is it waiting for government to solve the problem? Simply ... no matter the solution it is not economically viable as an industry if it doesn't dump its waste on the taxpayers.
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#16392 - 11/26/06 01:39 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
esin Offline
Member

Registered: 06/04/05
Posts: 60
Loc: LI, NY
For purposes of action, nothing is more useful then narrowness of thought combined with energy of will. ~Henri Frederic Amiel

...or is it possible that you've been cloistered behind the walls of acedemia for so long as to have lost touch with the anomalous/hegelian nature of the control paradigm we've ceded our ideals to~ We live with that which we settle for.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ~Edmund Burke

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#16393 - 11/26/06 06:51 PM Re: Green light for nuclear fusion project
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Cloistered? Hardly. My life does not revolve around the University of Washington.

Excellent quote from Edmund Burke. One of my favorites. Here are a few to go with it:

"A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar."

"Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under."

"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right."

"Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods."

All from H. L. Mencken
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