View Full Version : How close is nuclear fusion?
06-10-2002, 07:06 PM
There's a thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=119297) in Great Debates at the moment about how clean nuclear power is, and how Germany are phasing out all of their nuclear power stations.
This got me wondering - How close are we to using nuclear fusion as a reliable, safe, form of energy?
Thanks in advance.
06-10-2002, 07:23 PM
They've been saying we're 50 years away for, oh, 50 years or so. In reality, I seem to recall that we haven't yet put together a fusion reactor that puts out more energy than it uses, and there are some technical difficulties that need to be overcome which, however, I don't really understand as it's not at all my area of expertise. Suffice it to say that it'll be a while, and someone who knows more can be more helpful.
This (http://www.iter.org/) site claims that they'll hopefully have something up and running in 2040 or thereabouts, so I wouldn't hold my breath waiting.
06-10-2002, 07:31 PM
The trouble is (basically) we are having trouble compressing the 'fuel' for long enough time. Strong electromagnetic fields are used to compress hydrogen enough to start fusion but due to the energy created once it starts the fields can't hold it anymore and the hydrogen leaks out. We have been trying different patterns of the electromagnic fields but all seem to leak. We may just stumble onto a pattern that does work at any time but the chance of getting it in any single year is low.
Also there were some attempts to use sound waves to cause cold fusion but it doesn't appear to work :(
06-10-2002, 07:39 PM
Originally posted by g8rguy
They've been saying we're 50 years away for, oh, 50 years or so. In reality, I seem to recall that we haven't yet put together a fusion reactor that puts out more energy than it uses,
I think they're up to 30% of "breakeven", with fusion reactors putting out tens of megawatts. See the FAQ at:
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