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April 19, 2008

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Alex

Expensive, complex and uncertain but worth waiting for, since it might change the face of Nuclear power, reactors and waste.

Paul F. Dietz

No, laser fusion is unlikely to change the face of nuclear power. Simply keeping the final optics working (which have to be in the direct line of sight to tens of gigawatt-years of nuclear explosions) is probably an insurmountable problem. Beyond that, the technology solves relatively minor problems (uranium availability, fission waste disposal) while exacerabating the most serious problems of capital cost and complexity.

I view the inertial fusion program as primarily a means for the government to maintain a cadre of technologists versed in the specific knowledge needed for thermonuclear weapon design.

G.R.L. Cowan, H2 energy fan 'til ~1996

Some other fusion experiments that have been getting set up for years and years in the background: the Large Helical Device in Japan, the Levitated Dipole that was recently in the news, the Wendelstein 7X Stellarator.

Peter de Valk

What does ITER stand for. When using acronyms, please indicate at the initial use what it stands for, so that us dummies can also understand what is being said. Thanks.

Paul F. Dietz

From the www.iter.org:

"“The way” in Latin. Formerly interpreted to stand for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, although this usage has been discontinued."

Kit P

“while exacerabating the most serious problems of capital cost and complexity”

So true, mundane things like heat transfer area. At some point your system to transfer energy to make electricity become inefficient because it loses too much heat to the environment.

rml

This work represents a continuation of past laser fusion ignition by Lawrrence Livermore labs (Nova Laser) and KMS Fusion (Ann Arbor, MI).
I had a chance to tour KMS in the early 90's and viewed thier 2TW laser. It was quite impressive. And even more impressive was the ability of a 2TW laser to hit a sample of 2 thousands of an inch in diameter.
It makes a lot more sense to advance this field of research than investing more in fission when there is a finite amount of recoverable uranium.

Jules

"It makes a lot more sense to advance this field of research than investing more in fission when there is a finite amount of recoverable uranium..."

Why not fund research into sub-critical accelerator driven reactors or Thorium reactors? These reactors could use relatively abundant types of fuel like U-238 or Thorium. I'm not an expert, but it seems that the research for these types of reactors is a lot farther along than that of hot fusion reactors.

Cyril R.

And thorium also scores better on the commercially viable index.

Fusion gets maybe 1/100.

Paul Dietz

It makes a lot more sense to advance this field of research than investing more in fission when there is a finite amount of recoverable uranium.

It would make much more sense to push seawater uranium extraction, since the oceans contain 4 billion tons of the element. This would be enough to power the world even using once-through reactors for many centuries.

With breeding cycles, available of uranium or thorium become nonproblems essentially forever. Granted, breeding has economic issues.

Fusion is only going to make sense if there's a design with substantial inherent economic advantages over fission.

scott

As a former laser scientist, and someone who has talked to many of the scientists that used to be involved in the Nova, and Shiva project before it, this is strictly a weapons maintenance program. The theory is that the ability to have small scale nuclear explosions in the lab is important to maintain the current weapons stock given the test ban. The most important non weapons related results and discoveries that have come out of this research are typically only of value to laser scientists, though many of them were really really cool. In my opinion sustainable fusion for energy production is at best a PR device, and not one they have ever clung to in the past under any direct questioning.

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I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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weapons maintenance? as an astrophysics grad, i can safely say that i am thankful to the military for their cast off equipment and discoveries. maybe i'm not happy about the funding always going that direction, but at least the scientific community tends to get something.
sustainable fusion is at the moment just a dream for energy production. but like with all technologies, with refinement and study of results, it could become viable!

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This video is about the National Ignition Facility, more details in previous post, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, employing the largest bank of laser beams in the world, to be used in an experiment designed to create fusion ignition, a potential clean energy source for the 21st century. The $3.5 billion complex is under construction and expected to start full operations in 2009.

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Great article. I would love to add this article to my blogs. Very educational!

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I don’t know how to thank you, thanks for sharing it.

Dave

Dang, fusion is crazy! I can barely get my tiny brain wrapped around it.

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Thanks for sharing such great videos,What about this 700mw green laser pointer ?

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How close is this to a controlled fusion reaction and harnessing fusion power for commercial use?

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Article is good....At some point your system to transfer energy to make electricity become inefficient....... because it loses too much heat to the environment. .....

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but like with all technologies, with refinement and study of results, it could become viable!

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thank you for showing such wonderful video of laser pointer beam, can a high power portable green laser do it?

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And thorium also scores better on the commercially viable index.

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So informative video good subject to explore.

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This is a very cool experiment. Thanks for the video to go along with! Very neat. I am just getting into Laser technology.

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This is a good invention. Hope they won't use it for rebellion or anything that can harm people aswell with nature.

alex bony

wow, it's really a very great invention. have you ever tried to use a high power laser pointer to do it?
it will be a big challenge for your life, just have a try!

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With breeding cycles, available of uranium or thorium become non problems essentially forever. Granted, breeding has economic issues.

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Wow, that's fantastic, they've invented the largest laser beam. Hope to expect more large inventions

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It must be very fantastic thing to see the laser fusion, a great work it must be. thank you very much for sharing such wonderful video of laser pointer.

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Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for first aid for a heart attack and your post looks very interesting for me.

P Call

I had a chance to tour KMS in the early 90's and viewed thier 2TW laser. It was quite impressive. And even more impressive was the ability of a 2TW laser to hit a sample of 2 thousands of an inch in diameter.

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Of course, what a great site and informative posts, I will add backlink - bookmark this site? Regards, Reader.

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At some point your system to transfer energy to make electricity become inefficient

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It would make much more sense to push seawater uranium extraction

yeah but the risks are higher

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A better system much cheaper yet more powerful and portable for decentralized power generation would be THORIUM fueled MAXFEL Technology by Laser Power Systems. The Pheonix LPS200 could power a mid sized manufacturing plant for 20% less than grid power.

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This truly a remarkable experiment and require very precise accuracy.

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Its great they have invented the largest laser beam in the world. I hope they work harder and invent something bigger in future.

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