Here’s another “breakthrough” fusion claim. Thing is, one day, one of these will work.
In the meantime, knowing that the future is nuclear, and the only question is when, we should burn all the coal we have while it is still worth something.
UPDATE: Everyone knows that fusion is the perennial baby of Hype-n-Hope. It’s easy to criticize, but why miss the chance to crush a few mantras instead? The renewables industry talks about how inevitable renewables are, so lets talk about the inevitable Fusion-Future that makes the “renewables” surge a temporary blip that will be superseded. The Fusion-Future adds urgency to coal use now — a real use-by date (albeit with blurry print).
PS: Yes, The Greens are going to hate it. A private energy generator, outside government control, not needing hand-outs, and one that solves “climate change” but without subsidies and strings. These companies might say what they think! They’re a power threat to global parasites. Remember: a dependent company is an obedient company — one that cheers for big-government.
Australia spends $5 billion a year installing inefficient, non-competitive renewables. Instead, we could be spending that money on gene technology and nuclear power research. How much would that change the future for our children? We’re vying to be the top ranking self-sacrificing global sucker that strives for importance by offering to cripple its own economy to appease Climate Gods. Or we could lead the world in nuclear power and medicine. (They’re asking for $20m. Are we a quarry or a leader?)
At least this hopeful idea is an Australian production. Heinrich Hora has been working on this for decades. (See this from 1981). The caveat: As long as “they don’t uncover any major engineering hurdles…” Yeah. But when fusion does work, the entire climate industry, renewables, panic-merchants and co. becomes an ant-hill in history.
The Australian: Laser tech advances hailed as way to clean, cheap electricity
by Graham Lloyd:
The paper said simulations had shown 14mg of hydrogen boron could produce 300kWh of energy, opening the way for “an absolutely clean power reactor producing low-cost energy”.
“Now, in eight to 10 years I would expect to have small-scale reactors made from present-day technologies.” Professor Hora said solar panels and battery storage were a viable solution for outback regions.
“But for the big centres our reactors would work to replace present power generation,” he said, adding that about $500,000 was needed for seed capital, a further $20 million over two years and “if all develops as expected” a further $100m to complete design of the reactors.
The press release:
A laser-driven technique for creating fusion that dispenses with the need for radioactive fuel elements and leaves no toxic radioactive waste is now within reach, say researchers
A laser-driven technique for creating fusion that dispenses with the need for radioactive fuel elements and leaves no toxic radioactive waste is now within reach, say researchers.
Dramatic advances in powerful, high-intensity lasers are making it viable for scientists to pursue what was once thought impossible: creating fusion energy based on hydrogen-boron reactions. And an Australian physicist is in the lead, armed with a patented design and working with international collaborators on the remaining scientific challenges.
In a paper in the scientific journal Laser and Particle Beams today, lead author Heinrich Hora from the University of New South Wales in Sydney and international colleagues argue that the path to hydrogen-boron fusion is now viable, and may be closer to realisation than other approaches, such as the deuterium-tritium fusion approach being pursued by U.S. National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor under construction in France.
“I think this puts our approach ahead of all other fusion energy technologies,” said Hora, who predicted in the 1970s that fusing hydrogen and boron might be possible without the need for thermal equilibrium. Rather than heat fuel to the temperature of the Sun using massive, high-strength magnets to control superhot plasmas inside a doughnut-shaped toroidal chamber (as in NIF and ITER), hydrogen-boron fusion is achieved using two powerful lasers in rapid bursts, which apply precise non-linear forces to compress the nuclei together.
Hydrogen-boron fusion produces no neutrons and, therefore, no radioactivity in its primary reaction. And unlike most other sources of power production — like coal, gas and nuclear, which rely on heating liquids like water to drive turbines — the energy generated by hydrogen-boron fusion converts directly into electricity. But the downside has always been that this needs much higher temperatures and densities — almost 3 billion degrees Celsius, or 200 times hotter than the core of the Sun.
However, dramatic advances in laser technology are close to making the two-laser approach feasible, and a spate of recent experiments around the world indicate that an ‘avalanche’ fusion reaction could be triggered in the trillionth-of-a-second blast from a petawatt-scale laser pulse, whose fleeting bursts pack a quadrillion watts of power. If scientists could exploit this avalanche, Hora said, a breakthrough in proton-boron fusion was imminent.
“It is a most exciting thing to see these reactions confirmed in recent experiments and simulations,” said Hora, an emeritus professor of theoretical physics at UNSW. “Not just because it proves some of my earlier theoretical work, but they have also measured the laser-initiated chain reaction to create one billion-fold higher energy output than predicted under thermal equilibrium conditions.”
Together with 10 colleagues in six nations — including from Israel’s Soreq Nuclear Research Centre and the University of California, Berkeley — Hora describes a roadmap for the development of hydrogen-boron fusion based on his design, bringing together recent breakthroughs and detailing what further research is needed to make the reactor a reality.
An Australian spin-off company, HB11 Energy, holds the patents for Hora’s process. “If the next few years of research don’t uncover any major engineering hurdles, we could have prototype reactor within a decade,” said Warren McKenzie, managing director of HB11.
“From an engineering perspective, our approach will be a much simpler project because the fuels and waste are safe, the reactor won’t need a heat exchanger and steam turbine generator, and the lasers we need can be bought off the shelf,” he added.
H. Hora, et al (2017) Road map to clean energy using laser beam ignition of boron-hydrogen fusion, Laser and Particle Beams / Volume 35 / Issue 4 / December 2017