20 January, 2007

Fusion - Crazy Ideas

Real Interesting post at Classical Values about Boron - Proton Fusion.

I traced down all of the links and it is quite interesting. The most interesting piece for me was the last section with the questions about how to access the energy produced.

One thing that always tickles me about how the MSM usually leads a story about fusion is that they describe it as a safe "waste free" type of nuclear power.

With the Tokamak designs they rely on neutron heating of a water (or other medium) tank as the primary external energy transfer mechanism. In order to get enough energy to be efficient using this method you would have to have one heck of a massive neutron flux. Neutron fluxes create active isotopes so there will be large amounts of radioactive material (RAM) created. Of course this can all be contained in a similar way that RAM from fission reactors are. There is an advantage over fission reactors in that since transuranic elements are not used the really long lived RAM will be very small to non existent but Tokamaks will create a lot of RAM including every nukes favorite Isotope CO-60.

Energy capture from a Boron proton fusion would have to involve heat collection from the collisions and scatters of the three resulting alphas. The biggest drawback there is that there is no easy mechanism to get them out of the reaction area. Neutrons literally walk right though walls but the alphas won't go far. The design would probably have to have a high enough operating temperature range at certain locations for standard heat transfer mechanisms to be efficient.

This quote is spot on:
"The fusion is quite real, unlike the cold-fusion fiasco. What seems like the biggest problems are energy break even and durability of the equipment. The conventional fusion reactor has achieved energy break even already, the next step for it is economic break even."

This doesn't seem to be junk science but still wouldn't be easy. In any case full development of it or a similar fusion methodology using different isotopes is certainly worth the effort. I'm not sure overall explorations should be limited to this combination either.

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