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Author: jer1ch0 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 2638  
Subject: Backing the wrong horse Date: 09/09/2011 09:57
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I have just read this

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14842720

I have been very interested in nuclear fusion in the past and although my knowledge of this is out of date (I think I last looked into this about 1 year ago), unless things have radically changed laser fusion is much further away from commercial viability than the various magnetic containment options.

this paragraph hints at the problem

"Both Hiper and Life, a similar effort at Nif, estimate that a functioning laser power plant would need to cycle through more than 10 fuel pellets each second - a million each day. Nif, since its completion in 2009, has undertaken only 305 such shots in its quest for ignition."

Basically when I last looked at this they could go through 2 cycles a day with the pellets costing about $50 000 each. To be commercial they need at least 10 a second and the pellets need to cost about $0.05. Last I heard they had no real idea how they were going to achieve this, it's a bit more complicated than just 'economies of scale'.

I listened to a podcast (admittedly a biased one as the engineer being interviewed worked at IPP http://www.ipp.mpg.de/ippcms/eng/index.html) where he suggested that laser fusion was only really feasible for military applications.

Basically our best shot is ITER http://www.iter.org/ , I think we should be concentrating our energy (no pun intended) on this.

j


Note : I tried to check up about the pellet cost thing as I wrote this post from memory, a quick google came up with this, which is a pro laser fusion article but confirms my ball park figure.

http://www.mrcattclass.com/nuclear-fusion-by-2020.html

"Each one of these costs between ten [thousand] and a hundred thousand dollars," Mauel said. To use the pellet method to generate nuclear fusion power, "they'll have to cost less than ten cents a piece."
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