Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

MIT boffins crack fusion plasma snag

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010) Donate to DU
 
FarCenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 08:39 AM
Original message
MIT boffins crack fusion plasma snag
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/05/mit_fusion_boff... /

Boffins at MIT say they have cracked some tricky problems in the design of power stations running on nuclear fusion, though they hasten to add that many more hurdles remain before fusion energy becomes a reality.

<snip>

The Alcator project has its own reactor, and physicists there have been working on several conundrums which have to be solved before the new super-sized international reactor in France (ITER) can even be completed. In particular, the MIT brains say they have worked out a new and better method for making the unbelievably hot plasma inside the doughnut shaped reactor move around. It has to do that, apparently, in order not to lose all its heat into the vessel walls. It seems that Yijun Lin and John Rice of MIT have found a way of making the plasma move about by pushing it with radio waves, which will be critical to the operation of the ITER.

<snip>

Lin thinks that incorporation of the MIT technology will give the enormous, multibillion-pound ITER a much greater chance of success. "Our results are just in time," he says, as the mighty machine is already half built. That's obviously very important, because if practical fusion reactors can be developed which put out more power than they need to run, the human race's energy problems are largely over. Unlike the scarce and expensive uranium required for present-day fission reactors, the hydrogen isotopes which would be used for fusion are commonplace and could readily be extracted from seawater.

Clean and abundant fusion electricity, quite apart from rendering the wind/coal/fission power-station debate irrelevant, would also solve the underlying problems of replacing fossil-fuelled transport. No matter whether you favour hydrogen or battery or synthi-petrol made from CO2, very large amounts of energy have to be used.

Indeed, most of the world's troubles actually boil down to energy in the end. Farms in the Third World could easily feed the world's hungry if they had energy-intensive fertilisers and powered machinery: starvation is essentially an energy problem. Water is energy, too - there's no need to worry about how much you use if you can make more out of seawater.

So we should all be hoping that ITER is a success, and cheering on fusion researchers like the MIT Alcator team.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
Nye Bevan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 08:48 AM
Response to Original message
1. I love the word "boffin"

As Wikipedia says, "the word conjures up an image of men in thick spectacles and white lab coats, obsessively working with complicated apparatus". But you pretty much only see this word in stories from the UK. Come on everyone, let's try to use the word "boffin" more.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:16 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. sounds like a Hobbit name
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
NOW tense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:04 AM
Response to Original message
2. Has anyone heard of this?
A graph showing new technology over time. It is shaped like the start of a bell curve but hits a straight line up at some point in time and continues up without ending. Anybody?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
ThomWV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:20 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. Of course it does
That will happen if you graph the existence of anything that builds upon itself with the total reflecting what has come in the past plus all increments*. If you were to graph the effect of compound interest it would do the same thing. And by the way, you did not mean to say that it was shaped like a bell curve, what you meant to say that it had a gentle or gradual slope that grew increasingly steep until it appeared to be vertical (it never actually becomes vertical but it approaches vertical). Bell curves, by contrast, begin, slope up, hump dramatically, then slope down, and end.

*granted some information is found to be false and is removed from the prior total so there are also decrements, but they are insignificant.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
NOW tense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:22 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. Thanks
I have heard of this once but never found more information.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
originalpckelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:23 AM
Response to Reply #2
8. Fusion is bullshit...
we should focus on non-variable solar power, like orbital solar collectors. Why work on creating a fusion reaction, when we already have one going that's vastly larger than anything we can create?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
NOW tense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:32 AM
Response to Reply #8
11. I agree with you
using natural energy is what I would like to see. I believe that the only way to get us out of our current situation is to create a new manufacturing economy and leaving our last disaster behind us. My question could involve any new technologies not just fusion. I just thought of it while reading the post.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
originalpckelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:39 AM
Response to Reply #11
14. It seems that way to me too.
:P

I don't think fusion is going to be part of the graph. I'm very much a believer in the graph though, we can all hope!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
FarCenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:36 AM
Response to Reply #2
13. New technology adoption usually follows the "logistic" function
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logistic_function

Slow rate of adoption at first, exponential early growth, linear mature growth, followed by saturation and then steady state.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Thor_MN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:13 AM
Response to Original message
3. Yes, Fusion would solve world problems, until population increases to new heights
No matter how much food we grow, population is going to increase until we are consuming all of it. Until we can get population growth under control, we are going to have starving people.

My personal preference for a place to start would be the "re-education" of the fundies that go out and have 12 children.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bean fidhleir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:23 AM
Response to Reply #3
9. You've zeroed in on the real problem, for sure!
People just don't get it that, while energy is a huge problem, it's far from the only or even most pressing problem.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
FarCenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:32 AM
Response to Reply #3
10. Population control is good, but won't do the job alone
The United States total energy use is about 29,000,000,000,000 Kilowatt Hours per year.

The US is about 300,000,000 million people, about 5% of the world population, and our energy use is about 20% of the world total.

World population is currently about 6,700,000,000 and it is expected to grow to about 9,000,000,000 by 2050. Even with draconian limits on reproduction, the aging of the population coupled with growing cohorts entering reproductive years is likely to make it unlikely to undershoot by much. Only a massive increase in the death rate would have much impact.

If the world population's living standard rises to US levels, then the world energy consumption in 2050 would be about 30 times the current US energy use, or 870,000,000,000,000 KWHrs per year.

The alternatives are:

- Find a new energy source, such as fusion, that produces vast amounts of power,

- Significantly reduce energy consumption in the US and other developed countries,

- Implement a world police state that enables a stable political situation in the face of vast inequalities, or

- Eliminate a large number of people through nuclear or biological means.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
NOW tense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:34 AM
Response to Reply #3
12. My Wife and I are doing our part
No Kids! It is great. I have grown as a human being more in the last two years than any point in time in my life.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 11:15 AM
Response to Reply #12
15. What's the matter with you? Don't you know marriage is only for procreation?
People who don't procreate should be celibate and remain single. The church needs more priests and brothers and nuns to spread the word of God.

;)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
NOW tense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 11:34 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. I am pretty sure
I will be okay.

O8)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
originalpckelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 09:21 AM
Response to Original message
6. Fusion = bullshit.
Most thought on this subject doesn't take into account potential problems for any non-geometric confinement of plasma. Fusion in a star is based upon gravity, and until we develop a method of confining plasma using it's own mass, we'll only create and energy hole.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Thu Dec 18th 2014, 03:37 AM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010) Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC