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Daliwood

The successful Chinese experiment in a fusion reactor is huge, huge news; and I didn't read it in the American press. Fusion is the holy grail of energy generation systems and requires a scientific and technological sophistication far beyond the reach of most nations. If the Chinese can be the first to develop and deploy a commercially viable fusion reactor, they will own the world.

And even if the American people don't see the scientific achievement represented by the Chinese experiment, they will damn well feel the economic consequences of it if it continues. We will be peasants with the blackened faces of coal miners wheezing and coughing our way to WalMart to buy the few last foreign-made trinkets we can afford. I don't care how many tons of coal we mine and burn. Any foreign economy powered by fusion energy will leave us in the coal dust.

Of course, commercial deployment of the technology is years away, but the US had better learn a lesson from the Chinese and learn it fast. Those years will pass all too quickly for a nation asleep at the wheel and in the incompetent hands of political morons.

DeVaul

What do you do with all the nuclear waste?

mark abbott

Daliwood's right about fusion and who first masters it.

Elaine, change "fission" in your headline to "fusion" and watch what happens to your hit count! ;^)

Elaine Meinel Supkis

Oops. Sorry.


Seriously, I got this nasty sickness from my family at Thanksgiving....runny nose, watery eyes, etc. Reallllly hard to focus. Literally. And typing: very challenging. Achoo, cough cough.

blues

The possibilities with nuclear fusion energy are vast. It probably can provide the for much of our future energy need, especially in situations where a lot of power is required in some centralized location. For example, if memory serves, the Canadians have an entire nuclear fission plant that is entirely dedicated to providing electricity for the electrolytic extraction of aluminum from ore.

However, it will always have serious limitations. Fusion plants will likely be very large-scale, and the physical processes it entails are exquisitely delicate. Thus, they are quite vulnerable to military attack. And if I remember accurately, the neutron flux density of fusion reactions is tremendous. So that means that if you surround a fusion reactor with materials such as low-grade uranium, you will have weapons-grade uranium and plutonium in short order. Plus, the plasma containment system components and the shielding will become very radioactive, and their eventual disposal will become a big problem. And too, the fusion materials themselves are far from infinitely abundant.

Of course, we are talking about a very highly centralized energy production, that would present an irresistible motivation the capitrollists to corrupt our political systems to ensure maximal exploitation and energy blackmail.

The world needs a world government now, to fairly distribute the earth's resources and energy, with semi-autonomous, democratic states that are based upon truly effective election processes. See:

http://wiki.electorama.com/wiki/Consecutive_Runoff_Approval_Voting

We also need a decentralized energy sources, such a windpower, solar power, and geothermal power. Windpower will probably be our best source of power in the future. I keep telling people that we must pass legislation that requires automobile recyclers to resell the alternators from junked vehicles intact, not stripped down. An intact automotive alternator constitutes half of the equipment needed for a small wind power unit. Of course, the radically disinformed USAans are dumb as dirt, so nobody listens. Jerks.

DeVaul

What do you do with all the nuclear waste?

Every time I ask this question, I am met with silence.

Even as I speak, a giant radiactive plume of underground nuclear waste is marching towards the Colombia river up in the northwest. No one knows how to stop it, but they all know what will happen once it breaks through into the river. Major cities get their drinking water from this river, but not for much longer.

Check out this website for a discussion of the apocalyptic problem that faces just the USA regarding nuclear waste:

http://www.cdi.org/adm/1212/Makhijani.html

Daliwood

DeVaul, It's extremely important to distinguish the waste products of fission reactors from those that would result from the kind of fusion reactor the Chinese (and other nations) are developing.

The types, quantities, and activities of the wastes are significantly different. You are obviously well aware of the horrid legacy of radwaste left to us by our pursuit of fission reactors and weapons. Many hundreds of tons of high-level waste (HLW), such as spent fuel, are sitting at reactor sites around the US--and that doesn't even include the classified amount of HLW that the military possesses, nor does it include the staggering amounts of waste in other nations that don't have the technology--or in some cases even the desire--to store and guard the waste properly. (A side issue here is the plan for the nuke nations to dump their waste on impoverished developing nations in exchange for megabucks.)

Because of the waste problems, I have long been a passionate and vocal opponent of the deployment of additional nuke power plants, and I strongly support the decommissioning of existing plants in favor of alternate energy technologies, although we would still be left with the horrendous problems we face in handling the existing HLW.

However, fission reactors produce HLW because of the type of fuel they use and because components of the reactor are irradiated. Fusion reactors, on the other hand, produce no HLW from fuel. The fuel they use is not dangerous and the helium waste of the reaction can be captured--and certainly can't be considered dangerous. Tritium is also produced and discharged during the reaction, and it is a mostly unresolved issue with fusion reactors, although some workable solutions have been proposed. Fusion reactor components would become irradiated because of the high neutron fluxes in fusion reactors, and those components would eventually become HLW. Nevertheless, the HLW from a fusion reactor would be a miniscule quantity compared with the amounts coming from a fission reactor; and the radionuclides in the waste itself have half-lives of a few years rather than the thousands of years of those in fission reactors. The fusion reactor HLW would be dangerous for roughly 50 to 100 years but could be stored using existing technology.

I am not a strong proponent of fusion reactors, but I do see their benefits compared with fission; and I think they deserve a concerted scientific look from the world's best scientists. Compared with a continued reliance on fossil fuels, especially coal, fusion offers enormous advantages. And even when compared with various renewables, it still retains superiority by a number of environmental, economic, and social measures. The ideal solution may one day be a suite of alternate energy technologies for homes, while fusion supplies the power for massive, energy-intensive industries and or population centers.

blues

Colombia River Hanford Watch

http://www.hanfordwatch.org/

http://www.doh.wa.gov/hanford/publications/overview/rivermap.jpg

blues

All Your Safety Are Belong To Us.

http://www.hanfordwatch.org/introduction.htm

The two K Basins, only a quarter mile from the Columbia River, are huge indoor pools holding 2,300 tons of corroded, highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel rods under water. They have leaked in the past. An earthquake might crack them open, spilling radioactive water into the Columbia. Fuel exposed to the air could burn, scattering radioactive particles into the air. Because of the danger, the K Basins are considered one of Hanford’s most urgent problems.

Spent fuel is currently being removed from the Basins, dried out and put into canisters to be stored in an underground vault in Hanford’s central area. So far about three-fourths of the fuel has been moved.

[...] Unfortunately, as of January 2004, it appears that the Washington Dept. of Ecology is leaning towards allowing new waste at Hanford. Ecology has tentatively approved the creation of a new landfill at Hanford that would accommodate 900,000 cubic meters of waste, essentially doubling the amount of waste currently stored at Hanford.

blues

When I was a little itty bitty kid, we had this expression "the x-factor" which basically assumed that anything built be hot-shot rocket scientists would end up being run by Bush one day. The x-factor is all too real! Which reminds me of X-Day!!!

http://www.subgenius.com/id4/id4.html

DeVaul

Thanks for the explanation about fusion and nuclear waste, Daliwood.

However, I think that before we run down the road of fusion, we should first clean-up the mess we made with our first "experiment". In the process, we might actually learn something that will help us not make the same mistakes with fusion, or whatever.

This quest for unlimited energy is, in my opinion, a modern day form of alchemy. I do not believe there are any dilythiam crystals out there, and even if there were, they would not be used for peaceful purposes.

Elaine Meinel Supkis

The power of the gods! The Genie in the bottle (remember, the only way to stay alive was to trick him into returning to the bottle!)


Humanity wants power. Endless power. Total power. And that is a black hole, literally. The most concentrated power in the universe is the black hole!


Can we responsibly harness fusion power?


Nope. We are too destructive, just look at the oil pumping nations.

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