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    Default Practical Fusion Energy: still 10 years away. News at 11

    The twist this time is that it is the (relatively) tried-and-tested tokamak design, but the computer models suggest it might actually have legs, this time, and produce 10 times more energy than it takes. The key step forward is "a newer electromagnet technology that uses so-called high temperature superconductors that can produce a much higher magnetic field", that might make the difference from the usual "fusion is achieved, but takes more energy to maintain than we can get out". The counterpoint is also in the article: "If we can overcome the engineering challenges, this machine will perform as we predict" - a big IF, that one, that has proven to be the death of every previous such claim.

    Secondary advantages: it is slightly smaller than ITER (tennis-court sized, rather than football-court), and 10 times cheaper... or so they claim. As with the above, enough pinches of salt are probably due that if ingested, you'll be in serious danger of spiking your blood pressure.

    Link to the article, but be aware it is behind a paywall.

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    Last edited by Grey_Wolf_c; 2020-09-29 at 11:50 PM.
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    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Practical Fusion Energy: still 10 years away. News at 11

    Interesting ... seems like the engineering is a bit more achievable this time. Superconducting magnets are getting warmer and cheaper all the time.

    BTW, you can also get to the source articles at the Journal of Plasma Physics, and the JPP blog posts - which aren't paywalled.

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    Default Re: Practical Fusion Energy: still 10 years away. News at 11

    As usual the story is claiming "10 years away" - something that has been claimed for well over 30 years.

    I am beginning to think that this is not the scientists, it is the reporters' standard description of "more than just a few years, but we will have cracked the biggest problem when we solve this".
    Every time the people being reported on won't come up with a timeframe (because they know better" someone puts in "10 years" because they need something for their article.

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    Default Re: Practical Fusion Energy: still 10 years away. News at 11

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    As usual the story is claiming "10 years away" - something that has been claimed for well over 30 years.

    I am beginning to think that this is not the scientists, it is the reporters' standard description of "more than just a few years, but we will have cracked the biggest problem when we solve this".
    Every time the people being reported on won't come up with a timeframe (because they know better" someone puts in "10 years" because they need something for their article.
    Could be the scientists being pressed for a number and pitching one that is too long for anyone to really follow up on, but not so long it seems impossible because they are making small incremental progress.

    Sort of like an shorthand for "stop bothering us right now ok, we don't really know, this is tricky stuff and we have a really good idea we are going to try now, if you onyl let us do it in peace".

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    Default Re: Practical Fusion Energy: still 10 years away. News at 11

    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    Could be the scientists being pressed for a number and pitching one that is too long for anyone to really follow up on, but not so long it seems impossible because they are making small incremental progress.

    Sort of like an shorthand for "stop bothering us right now ok, we don't really know, this is tricky stuff and we have a really good idea we are going to try now, if you onyl let us do it in peace".
    Exactly that. They also need to ensure funding and if you tell a politician "fifty years", you don't get money.
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    Default Re: Practical Fusion Energy: still 10 years away. News at 11

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Exactly that. They also need to ensure funding and if you tell a politician "fifty years", you don't get money.
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    Default Re: Practical Fusion Energy: still 10 years away. News at 11

    The claim has never been "ten years away", at least not from anyone in the know. For the past 60 years or so, the claim has always been "About 30 years, if funding and other support holds up", and the funding and support has never held up.

    This article sounds to me like a reporter needed a story, so they went to a fusion lab and asked them what they've been doing. The scientists and engineers at the lab told the reporter about the latest progress they've made (because they're always making progress, of course), and the reporter then turned it into a big story, when they could just as easily have told the same story about whatever progress they made last year or last decade.
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    Default Re: Practical Fusion Energy: still 10 years away. News at 11

    The important thing is that the research is constantly getting closer towards the ultimate goal. Often with huge leaps. It's just that the distance is a lot further than we originally estimated and it's still not fully clear how long it will take to get there. But the goal isn't moving, it's always getting closer and closer.

    What I am really curious is what will happen in the 10-20 years after we got the first energy producing prototype. There probably will still be some time to make improvements before starting to build the first commercial reactors rather than building 50 copies of ITER all around the work. And even if we get to the point of having 10 energy producing reactors feeding regularly into the electrical grid, their contribution to the global energy economy will still be minuscule.

    There still might be a few decades of disappointment before we actually get to see fusion power reduce energy prices, carbon emmisions, and nuclear waste.
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    Default Re: Practical Fusion Energy: still 10 years away. News at 11

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    The claim has never been "ten years away", at least not from anyone in the know.
    The claim from people talking to reporters has been 5-10 years since I started following fusion. For example.

    I am quite aware of the realities of the development cycle and the need to lie to reporters to secure funding. It is still a fact that 10 years is frequently bandied about. Thus the joke in the thread title.

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    Last edited by Grey_Wolf_c; 2020-10-01 at 04:06 PM.
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    There is a world of imagination
    Deep in the corners of your mind
    Where reality is an intruder
    And myth and legend thrive
    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Ceterum autem censeo Hilgya malefica est

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    Default Re: Practical Fusion Energy: still 10 years away. News at 11

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    The important thing is that the research is constantly getting closer towards the ultimate goal. Often with huge leaps. It's just that the distance is a lot further than we originally estimated and it's still not fully clear how long it will take to get there. But the goal isn't moving, it's always getting closer and closer.

    What I am really curious is what will happen in the 10-20 years after we got the first energy producing prototype. There probably will still be some time to make improvements before starting to build the first commercial reactors rather than building 50 copies of ITER all around the work. And even if we get to the point of having 10 energy producing reactors feeding regularly into the electrical grid, their contribution to the global energy economy will still be minuscule.

    There still might be a few decades of disappointment before we actually get to see fusion power reduce energy prices, carbon emmisions, and nuclear waste.
    Considering that ITER has no hopes to be profitable even when one considers only the operational costs, we will still have to wait before we see commercially viable designs. ITER will significantly boost the progress as it will be a great source of data on the performance of large fusion reactors. It will also help in securing further funding. On the other hand, one could say that with the first net energy gain ITER will have already made the most important job, since during the long course of the project great improvements have already been made.
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