Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fusion: Not easy or cheap, but vital

The National Ignition Facility, as this article notes, has yet to achieve ignition.  For billions of dollars, we've achieved one purpose of the NIF - simulating fusion detonations to ensure US nukes are reliable without having to actually detonate any - but it was hoped NIF would achieve fusion power in 2012.  The Administration is proposing to cut back its funding, cap contributions to ITER, an international consortium hoping to achieve fusion in 2020 using a different process, and cancel a fusion lab proposed for MIT. 
I understand the frustration.  There are physicists who think NIF isn't going to produce power.  But I suggest the costly experiment needs to be funded further. We need to KNOW we're not turning back just short of solving the global energy crisis.
I have no faith in the cold fusion (LENR) folks, who are (mostly) sincere but can't produce anything. Even claims of independent testing of one device, the eCat, are shot down by skeptics who point out the inventor still dictated the setup and the results claimed use processes that don't and can't exist unless of fundamental understanding of particle physics is wrong.
The NIF people have agreed to a three-year timeline for the fusion power experiments. We should fund the three years.  I know there are countless competing needs, but as long as we have a real chance of changing the entire world economy for the better, I'd vote to go on.  Fusion is the only large-scale power for cities and industries that's going to work.  (Solar is great but can't power New York or the auto plants - the requirements are too big for a technology that works best on a local scale.)
Am I a physicist? Nope. This is strictly one citizen's vote.  Fingers crossed.

2 comments: said...

Hi there,

LENR / Cold Fusion is not a one man show.

NASA did tests with Defkalion and defkalion have done public demonstration.

JET energy ran a Cold Fusion reactor at MIT for 1 year.

If you dont believe what other tell you and what you read or not read on the internet I would like to personally invite you to visit med at NI-Week in Texas 5-8 August.

Me and my friend Dennis will be brining some toys and you can meet us at both 922

/ Kind Regards

Dr Bob

Information and technology can solve all our problems.

Matt Bille said...

Appreciated. And I'll grant I'm not a nuclear physicist. But the idea that manufacturing companies would not be swarming all over a genuine LENR machine to a) license to produce themselves or b) to run their factories at such huge savings they could severely undercut their competition makes no sense. I've talked to the chief scientist at NASA Langley and I know he thinks there's something to it, but this isn't like a better light bulb - it's a revolutionary machine for commerce, and yet the powers of commerce, not to mention city-owned utilities, should be standing in line to buy them, and that there is not a single such sale (of either technology or completed machines ) in the power-hungry U.S. makes me very wary. I hope you do have something. But I'm not expecting the revolution to come from LENR.