Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Power The Almighty Buck Technology

French ITER Fusion Project To Take At Least 6 Years Longer Than Planned (sciencemag.org) 193

sciencehabit writes: The multibillion dollar ITER fusion project under construction in France will take at least an additional 6 years to complete, compared with the current schedule, a meeting of the governing council was told this week. ITER management has also asked the seven international partners which are backing the project for additional funding to finish the job. Under recent estimates, ITER was expected to cost some $13 billion and not begin operations until 2019. The new start date would be 2025.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

French ITER Fusion Project To Take At Least 6 Years Longer Than Planned

Comments Filter:
  • by Rei ( 128717 )

    .. of ignorant "Fusion power is only 30 years away, and has been for the past half century!" comments in 3, 2, 1...

    • by abies ( 607076 )

      I have heard that saying about '20 years away'. Has estimation been updated from perpetual +20 years to perpetual +30 years? This indeed is a big hit to fission research community. This puts it even further behind +5 years for working nanobots, +10 years for strong AI and +15 years for flying cars.

      • This indeed is a big hit to fission research community.

        Actually, it won't hurt the fission research community in any way. The FUSION research community, on the other hand....

    • You should try political science instead of an actual scientific discipline. There trying to preemptively shut down discussion is considered valid. In physics it makes you look like an idiot.

    • by tsotha ( 720379 )
      There's a reason you can tell that joke every single year.
      • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

        There's a reason my dad taught me that joke in the 80s. Let me continue the trend: in 6 years, it will take 14 more years longer than planned!

        • World war III might speed up things ..
    • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

      The joke is 20 years, not 30. And if get net energy positive fusion in, say, 2020, then the joke will have been accurate for around 20 years, and overly pessimistic for an additional 20. Either way, the joke is more accurate than it is inaccurate, given that fusion has been 20 years away for around 30 years plus.

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
      Maybe someone will point out that it isn't a French project; clue being in the I of ITER.
      • Maybe someone will point out that it isn't a French project; clue being in the I of ITER.

        Yeah, but they probably just named it that to head off the inevitable "FTER, I barely know her" jokes.

  • Anti-gravity https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] is more promising. Why would we need so much energy if it will be possible to move all over the universe in ultralight vehicles.
    • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @07:43AM (#50968645) Homepage

      Anti-gravity is more promising.

      Yes, all that progress they've been making recently in anti-gravity research is bound to start paying off any day.

      Oh, wait, no, it's all just charlatans and wackos.

      • Yes, all that progress they've been making recently in anti-gravity research is bound to start paying off any day. Oh, wait, no, it's all just charlatans and wackos.

        Yep. Time to move on to the EM drive. That is much more promising...

        ab vg nva'g

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
      Yeah we've never even detected gravitons or gravitational waves, but I'm sure anti-gravity technology is just around the corner.
      • by Max_W ( 812974 )

        Yeah we've never even detected gravitons or gravitational waves, ...

        This is the point. As soon as gravitons or gravitational waves are detected (the gravity is real after all, it definitly exists, no one just tried seriously and systematically) all is needed to be done is to change plus + to minus - in the formula.

        • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
          Sounds like something you could safely file under "non-trivial problem" given that at the moment we can't even detect gravitational waves from the very largest phenomena nature has to offer, such as black holes/neutron stars merging.
        • Your comments are hysterical, especially the part where you seem to believe what you're saying. Don't bogart that joint, man, that's the good stuff you have there.

        • all is needed to be done is to change plus + to minus - in the formula.
          And that is as impossible as it is to change the charge of an electron from -1 to +1.

  • I really hope one of the other fusion projects succeeds before then. The earlier we get it, the better.

    Lockheed claim they might have a prototype by 2019 and a commercial unit by 2024.

    Then you have the likes of the Focus Fusion thing, shooting for the big prize, proton-boron fusion (less neutrons, no need to breed tritium, efficient solid-state energy conversion), that has made more progress (in terms of particle energy * confinement time) in the last 5 years on a few million bucks than ITER has in 8 with b

    • by abies ( 607076 )

      From reading on Focus Fusion, it says
      "emits most of its energy in the form of [...] X-rays,[...] which can be converted very efficiently into electricity "

      How do you very efficiently convert X-rays into electricity with today technologies inside a 'shipping container sized' device?

      • The theory is using a photoelectic method ; an "onion" of metallic layers which the x-rays jostle electrons out of.

        TBH that could/should probably be researched in parallel.

        • The theory is using a photoelectic method ; an "onion" of metallic layers which the x-rays jostle electrons out of.

          So if your photons are energetic enough, ordinary metal becomes a solar cell? Neat!

      • by Kaitiff ( 167826 )

        There are several video's I've seen on the net that explain it some.. we can already convert x-rays and streams of electrons into an electrical potential...we just haven't tried to do it in an industrial capacity. I'm not a physicist or anything, but it appears from the video that the 'beams' of x-rays and streams of ions are directed over small foil plates or antenna looking structures.

        The current test reactor they've built fits inside the bay of a car garage. Granted it's a test reactor but if/when they

      • The same way photovoltaic cells work, just at a different bandwidth.

        If you know the wavelength, you can make PV cells that are close to 100% effective.

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      that has made more progress (in terms of particle energy * confinement time) in the last 5 years on a few million bucks than ITER has in 8 with billions.

      So would a teenager working in his garage on a Farnsworth fusor, tweaking his design. That doesn't mean anything. What matters is what the scientific community thinks of the scaleability. Do you have a published comparative metastudy of the literature on the prospects of focus fusion vs. tokamaks to back that? Heck, has Lerner even demonstrated getting pas

      • But the pulsed methods all face commercialization challenges on achieving rapid firing rates

        You're not joking. You'd need 10 shots a second ; I liken it to developing the worlds most accurate and reliable machine gun, firing the worlds most expensive cryogenically cooled ammunition (while gold-plated uranium bullets are pretty expensive, the real kicker is the tritium, $30,000 a gram), into the heart of a machine that somehow combines a laser array several orders of magnitude more efficient than anything else we've ever developed AND the heat exchangers required to get the energy out somehow witho

        • The other nice issue about these small alternative reactor designs is the use in space. That is huge since tritium is relatively easy to get there
    • by Kaitiff ( 167826 )

      THIS!!!

      Aneutronic fusion, should it pan out (and it is certainly making some serious headway) is like the holy grail of power production!!! It's so good it's almost like a fairy tale come true. A way to produce power directly to electricity w/out having to convert nuclear-->heat---->electricity. Not only that, but it would be very very small, have very little infrastructure costs (shielding and containment) and be walkaway safe to operate, w/out almost no long term radioactivity to worry about. AND

      • Won't happen, the only plausible reaction, proton beryllium-11, takes 10 times the ion energies of DT

    • by bigpat ( 158134 )

      I really hope one of the other fusion projects succeeds before then. The earlier we get it, the better.

      Lockheed claim they might have a prototype by 2019 and a commercial unit by 2024.

      Then you have the likes of the Focus Fusion thing, shooting for the big prize, proton-boron fusion (less neutrons, no need to breed tritium, efficient solid-state energy conversion), that has made more progress (in terms of particle energy * confinement time) in the last 5 years on a few million bucks than ITER has in 8 with billions.

      Both approaches are a lot smaller than the aircraft-carrier sized reactor (no, not sized for an aircraft carrier, as big as an aircraft carrier) that tokamak designs predict will be useful ; a bunch of small, municipal reactors the size of shipping containers will make for a more robust, more democratic, less monopolistic and corrupt energy generation system.

      In addition to continuing with the big research reactors, I'd like to see more smaller scale funding for this kind of multimillion dollar scale development. Success or failure could come down to very very very minute differences in reactor design and operation and the more teams that are working on this and sharing results and techniques the more likely we can make faster progress.

    • MIT Technology review seems to think that the Lockheed thing is probably snake oil. http://www.technologyreview.co... [technologyreview.com]
  • by monkeyxpress ( 4016725 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @07:46AM (#50968653)

    There is an interesting talk on TED by the guy who started general fusion. Basically he shows a graph of the progress towards over unity production from commercial reactor designs since the 1950s. The progress has actually been surprisingly good, but the trouble is it has had to come from a long way back. If you consider that there is no fundamental law that makes the over-unity line special, it does seem like we are very close to crossing it now.

    I think the biggest question though is whether these reactors will ever make commercial sense. The big benefit of fusion is that it has basically zero fuel costs and the potential to provide endless amounts of energy. But this is basically the same as renewables for all intents and purposes*. In the end it will really be a competition of capital costs, and given how simple something like a solar panel is, it may require an even bigger breakthrough beyond just getting a commercial reactor going to make fusion viable. Of course if they can get the size of the reactor down then that will open up huge opportunities as a high density power source (ships, aircraft, spacecraft), but again, that is going to need big breakthroughs beyond just achieving over-unity.

    *while fusion has the potential to provide more energy than harvestable insolation, this would represent a massive injection of heat into the biosphere and I doubt that would have good implications for climate change. It is also hard to imagine what we could possibly do with that much energy without causing serious issues.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The big benefit of fusion is that it has basically zero fuel costs and the potential to provide endless amounts of energy. But this is basically the same as renewables for all intents and purposes*.

      Fusion could produce power 24/365 while most renewables only produce power when the sun shines or the wind blows.

      But yeah, aside from that they're basically the same.

      • Fusion could produce power 24/365 while most renewables only produce power when the sun shines or the wind blows.

        But yeah, aside from that they're basically the same.

        Of course, we don't know how to build a commercial fusion plant. So there is no way of knowing how reliable they will be.

        We do know that commercial fission plants do not achieve 100 percent reliability. In all probability a fusion plant will be a much more complex beast, so it is exceedingly unlikely that a hypothetical fusion plant would be more reliable than an existing fission plant.

        One thing about renewables, while it is true that they do not produce power one hundred percent of the time, due to more

      • while most renewables only produce power when the sun shines or the wind blows.
        Which is always the case considering how big the world is, and always the case regarding wind, considering how big your country is ... and there are plenty of more renewables as wave energy, tidal anergy etc. which is truly always on.

        S yes, they are basically the same, considering that the technology for renewables is right here and the costs are *known*

        Fusion makes no sense at all unless you can scale it down and use it in spac

    • fusion has the potential to provide more energy than harvestable insolation

      Yeah, but we don't use anything like the amount of harvestable insolation ; the effect from reduced greenhouse gas emissions is likely to be more significant than the increased thermal emissions. If we're replacing existing energy consumption with fusion, the heat emissions shouldn't change. If we expand our energy usage, we can also look at methods of sequestering carbon or other forms of geoengineering.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rob Lister ( 4174831 )

      *while fusion has the potential to provide more energy than harvestable insolation, this would represent a massive injection of heat into the biosphere and I doubt that would have good implications for climate change. It is also hard to imagine what we could possibly do with that much energy without causing serious issues.

      Huh? An x GWt fusion reactor buts no more heat in the biosphere than an x GWt coal plant, fission plant, NG plant or hydroelectric plant. Besides, the effect of such has very little to do with climate change. It may impact local ground-based measurements, but only as a function of error. The effect on the climate is trivial.

    • I'd love to see fusion reactors eventually, but no, we really don't need them now.

      What we have is a huge nuclear waste problem from the light-water fission reactors. That is a primitive design that only uses 3% of the fuel and the waste is going to be hot for 300,000 years. Leaving that to posterity is wildly irresponsible.

      Fortunately, we have a solution. Anybody with a high school diploma should know that the only thing that can be done with nuclear waste is to transmute it down to less radioactive elem

      • Perhaps you should read up again your physics text book from high school as you find that so important.
        There is no "transmutation down". Transmutations only go upward.

    • I think the biggest question though is whether these reactors will ever make commercial sense. The big benefit of fusion is that it has basically zero fuel costs and the potential to provide endless amounts of energy. But this is basically the same as renewables for all intents and purposes*. In the end it will really be a competition of capital costs...

      The other benefit of fusion over renewables is that it would almost certainly fit in a vastly smaller space. A modern solar installation might take up a square mile of land. A modern wind farm might take up multiple square miles of land. That's a lot of land. Land is not especially cheap already, and it's getting more expensive by the day. Wind farms and solar plants also have their own economic impacts, and some people (not necessarily me) consider them an eyesore. If your power generator fits in a s

    • *while fusion has the potential to provide more energy than harvestable insolation, this would represent a massive injection of heat into the biosphere and I doubt that would have good implications for climate change. It is also hard to imagine what we could possibly do with that much energy without causing serious issues."

      Geothermal produces a LOT of energy. The planet expels this energy out into space as IR radiation, as do the oceans that have all that thermal momentum. So unless you're talking about hum

    • while fusion has the potential to provide more energy than harvestable insolation, this would represent a massive injection of heat into the biosphere and I doubt that would have good implications for climate change.

      With all that energy we could just run load of fridges with the doors open. Do I have to do all the thinking around here?

  • I don't understand why they can't fund the project more lavishly and try to get results from this thing sooner. It seems like the potential rewards would be worth the risk.

  • This is water on the mills of the tocamak critics. ... I always thought they *do* have a point or two.

    Net energy with magnetic cages required to keep super-hot plasma controlable is a very difficult thing, even *if* we manage to achieve stable prolonged tocamak fusion.

    They've spent 16 billion or so already. I'd thoroughly review their plans and perhaps cap the entire project at 25 billion or so. If they max that out, put the money into solar and space exploration. It's better off there for now I'd say. Even

  • If not, we should bring them in. They have a record of getting things done.

    • Yeah, on the cheap. You really don't want to know how badly they cut corners in civil engineering. It has nothing to do with capability; it has everything to due with corruption in materials and last minute change-outs. In some cases, omission of materials entirely. For example, no rebar in concrete when it was specifically called for and certified as having been used when in fact it wasn't.

  • Time had a cover story on a half dozen private fusion projects costly less than billion dollars apiece. Some are based on clever unconventional physics ideas. Its a lot like private space travel. They is a possibility the little guys could have breakthrough.
  • by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @12:36PM (#50970329) Homepage

    I'm going to post this blogroll again:

    https://matter2energy.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/why-fusion-will-never-happen/

  • There are forces in the nuclear equation that are greater than simple megawatts. These are economic forces. Throughout the energy industry are forces and counter forces trying to determine where our energy will come from. The players include governments and lobbyists from the oil, gas, coal, nuclear, solar and wind industries. You and I don't have a lobbyist. So what will be financed is what will be profitable for the most powerful lobbyist. (Assuming 'free' market conditions.)

    The utility companies have an

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

Working...