Fission vs Fusion reactors

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Message 1785168 - Posted: 6 May 2016, 10:45:02 UTC
Last modified: 6 May 2016, 11:33:22 UTC

There are 444 nuclear Fission reactors on planet Earth, some of them very old and ready for decommission. China is building 22 new fission, reactors. There is no fusion reactor producing electricity, and no one is foreseen in the near future. ITER is only a "proof of concept" experiment. Lockheed-Martin claims they will have a prototype working in a few years, but that is only a claim. There are other experiments being developed, such as the Russian/Italian Ignitor designed by Bruno Coppi, who built the Alcator at MIT, but they are only experiments in plasma physics, nothing more.
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Message 1785734 - Posted: 8 May 2016, 3:17:17 UTC - in response to Message 1785168.  

Well Tullio since you don't start threads often i'm guessing that this topic is close to your heart.
Fission is a very advanced technology compared to Fusion.
As you say, much of the research in Fusion is basic Plasma Physics.
There are many different possible configurations for a fusion reactor.
Different fuel cycles, and many reactor designs/concepts.
i personally don't like the ITER design.
It's way too expensive, and stretched out over too long a time.
ITER will push progress of the technology required for Fusion generators,
even if it doesn't come up with a viable design.
predict that within 10 years fusion will be demonstrated at a greater than breakeven sustained.
Most new tech matures over 25 year period.
So Fusion for everybody by 2050.
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Message 1785754 - Posted: 8 May 2016, 4:30:46 UTC - in response to Message 1785734.  

When I was working at Mondadori Scientific Editions I had as advisers the best Italian experts both in fission reactors and fusion experiments, including prof. Mario Silvestri of Milan Polytechnic and Prof.Piero Caldirola of Milan State University, and I learned from them. I also met Bruno Coppi at Trieste International Center for Theoretical Physics, now Abdus Salam Center, in Trieste in 1968.
I also wrote a chapter on Plasma Physics in the Enciclopedia della Fisica, Roberto Fieschi (ed), ISEDI, 1976. The situation is still the same after 40 years, there is no working fusion reactor.
The CIRENE reactor, with natural uranium fuel and heavy water moderator and cooling liquid, designed by Silvestri was built in Latina and never started, because of a referendum after Chernobyl. Prof Silvestri died soon after.
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Message 1785763 - Posted: 8 May 2016, 5:17:48 UTC - in response to Message 1785754.  

I hear you tullio.
I'm all for nuclear fission power plants.
Most of the research has already been paid for.
If done properly fission power plants are economical, and quite green.
The Electricity sector in France is a prime example.

I'm rooting for Fusion, because it's the next step.
Fusion is more efficient. Less than 1% of a fissionable fuel's mass is converted to energy, while some fusion reactions convert ~7% of fuel mass into energy.
Fission produces a great deal of long half-life radioactive waste.
Some Fusion fuel cycles produce little or no neutrons as a byproduct, and allow for
direct conversion of high energy particles(x-rays) to electricity.

The USA/EU/China should be in a full blown Manhattan like project to develop FUSION, with all results shared globally. ITER is a slow motion compromise to keep big oil companies happy. Big-Oil knows that Energy from Fusion will put them out on the street.
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Message 1785781 - Posted: 8 May 2016, 7:50:17 UTC
Last modified: 8 May 2016, 7:50:42 UTC

China has a big problem in air pollution deriving from coal-fired thermal plants, and is going ahead with 22 fission reactors, as "Nature" wrote recently. It should renounce to reprocessing spent fuel elements, since this produces plutonium. which can be used to make bombs. Even a crude plutonium device in the hand of terrorists could become a nightmare.
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Message 1785783 - Posted: 8 May 2016, 8:09:13 UTC - in response to Message 1785781.  

You can make a bomb with uranium and its a lot simpler to than implodion you need with plutonium to make it go bang
Life is what you make of it :-)

When i'm good i'm very good , but when i'm bad i'm shi#eloads better ;-) In't I " buttercups " p.m.s.l at authoritie !!;-)
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Message 1785793 - Posted: 8 May 2016, 9:20:51 UTC - in response to Message 1785783.  
Last modified: 8 May 2016, 9:23:58 UTC

Yes, but you need uranium-235,which is 0.7% of natural uranium.
Tullio
This means you must have an enrichment plant, very big and very costly in electricity.
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Message 1786144 - Posted: 9 May 2016, 14:33:15 UTC
Last modified: 9 May 2016, 14:37:22 UTC

How about Thorium-based nuclear power.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium-based_nuclear_power
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_fluoride_thorium_reactor

The TV serie Occupied is a Norwegian political thriller that I follow right now:)
The plot is that Norway is so hard hit by natural disasters in the wake of climate change that the country had to shut down oil and gas extraction.
Instead, the Norwegian government has staked everything on a new environmentally friendly energy source, Thorium.
The problem is that the wars in the Middle East have created an energy crisis in Europe.
A panic-stricken EU asks Russia to go in militarily and force the Norwegians to resume oil and gas production.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okkupert
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Message 1786152 - Posted: 9 May 2016, 15:10:43 UTC - in response to Message 1786144.  

Carlo Rubbia proposed using Thorium with the fission reaction ignited by a particle accelerator, a tool he knew very well after his leadership at CERN. He called it an "energy amplifier" . Now he is in China and works in Photovoltaics.
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Message 1786336 - Posted: 10 May 2016, 3:13:58 UTC

Thorium-based nuclear power plants will end up with us all dependant on China as that's where most of it is ... Is that a good idea with what there doing in the South China sea ?!!!!

tullio do you think it's a waste of money trying to get fission working using Hydrogen ?

From what I've read and heard Helium 3 is what they should be using .

Maybe spend the money on the infrastructure to get it and not projects to Mars

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Message 1786351 - Posted: 10 May 2016, 5:37:01 UTC

Darth, I think you meant fusion working with hydrogen. Fission splits atoms like uranium, fusion fuses atoms like hydrogen into helium . Helium3 is thought to be needed to help protect the walls of the fusion reactor.
Bob DeWoody

My motto: Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow as it may not be required. This no longer applies in light of current events.
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Message 1786399 - Posted: 10 May 2016, 12:11:01 UTC - in response to Message 1786336.  

Thorium-based nuclear power plants will end up with us all dependant on China as that's where most of it is ... Is that a good idea with what there doing in the South China sea ?!!!!

Known high-grade occurrences of Thorium include Australia, India, Norway, the USA and Canada.

World thorium reserves IAEA estimates.
India 21%
Australia 19%
USA 13%

China has less then 1%.
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Message 1786447 - Posted: 10 May 2016, 15:16:21 UTC

It would be sufficient to dismantle nuclear warheads made from plutonium and mix the plutonium with natural uranium to provide fuel to all existing reactors for many years.
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Message 1786449 - Posted: 10 May 2016, 15:20:35 UTC - in response to Message 1786447.  

It would be sufficient to dismantle nuclear warheads made from plutonium and mix the plutonium with natural uranium to provide fuel to all existing reactors for many years.
Tullio

Yes. VERY many years.
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Message 1786459 - Posted: 10 May 2016, 21:03:47 UTC

I was surprised to see that quite a bit of the fuel in US reactors has come from former Russian warheads. But I also assume that means the US has assumed responsibility for the disposal of the remaining radioactive waste from this material.
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My motto: Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow as it may not be required. This no longer applies in light of current events.
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Message 1786476 - Posted: 10 May 2016, 22:01:58 UTC - in response to Message 1786459.  
Last modified: 10 May 2016, 22:17:10 UTC

I was surprised to see that quite a bit of the fuel in US reactors has come from former Russian warheads. But I also assume that means the US has assumed responsibility for the disposal of the remaining radioactive waste from this material.

Not only from Russia.
Sweden as well.
https://translate.google.se/translate?hl=sv&sl=sv&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nyteknik.se%2Fenergi%2Fsverige-gav-bort-plutonium-6417899
It was the US that had to take care of the legacy of the early Swedish nuclear projects. 3.3 kg of plutonium and nine kilograms of uranium has quietly shipped to Savannah River Site in South Carolina in 2012.

And of course.
In a vault in Sellafield, Britain, there is 850 kg Swedish plutonium under strict surveillance. If terrorists could get hold of it it as sufficient the amount of one hundred atomic bombs. No one knows what will happen with it.
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Message 1786540 - Posted: 11 May 2016, 2:23:23 UTC
Last modified: 11 May 2016, 2:23:39 UTC

This remind me of Bible turning swords into plowshares.
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Message 1786550 - Posted: 11 May 2016, 3:21:19 UTC - in response to Message 1786540.  

This remind me of Bible turning swords into plowshares.
Tullio

Yes Tullio, if some countries should choose to do it as well.
Dalla spada all'aratro!
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Message 1786551 - Posted: 11 May 2016, 3:21:35 UTC

It really won't take too long to reduce the surplus of military grade Highly-Enriched-Uranium and Plutonium in commercial reactors.
http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/uranium-resources/military-warheads-as-a-source-of-nuclear-fuel.aspx
Europe's well-developed MOX capacity suggests that weapons plutonium could be disposed of relatively quickly. Input weapons-grade plutonium might need to be mixed with reactor grade material or blended with Pu-238, but using such MOX as 30% of the fuel in one third of the world's reactor capacity would remove about 15 tonnes of warhead plutonium per year. This would amount to burning 3000 warheads per year to produce 110 billion kWh of electricity.

What bothers me is the cost of stupidity when accidents happen.
Economic damage of the Chernobyl accident is estimated at $235 billion for 30 years on after the explosion.

And that's just one accident, and then there's all the cost overruns of construction.

On the other hand the amount of funding that Fusion research has received in the USA since 1953 is around $30 Billion total. I think funding should go up by at least a factor of 10, maybe a lot more.
http://focusfusion.org/index.php/site/reframe/wasteful/
So anyone who is poo-pooing Fusion as an energy solution is more a politician than a scientist, since they too seem to want to starve funding for Fusion Research.
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Message 1786582 - Posted: 11 May 2016, 5:19:09 UTC - in response to Message 1786399.  

Thorium-based nuclear power plants will end up with us all dependant on China as that's where most of it is ... Is that a good idea with what there doing in the South China sea ?!!!!

Known high-grade occurrences of Thorium include Australia, India, Norway, the USA and Canada.

World thorium reserves IAEA estimates.
India 21%
Australia 19%
USA 13%


Thank's Jann I wasn't aware we had so much , I'm thinking thou Most of the known reserves are still in China just there Thorium is of the lower grade however they have many more times than there is the high grade ores and Thorium reactors if used to replace all the gas and coal fired ones would still need the Chineese ores in the long run ?

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