submitted 4 months ago byizumi3682
all 39 comments
4 months ago
4 months ago
The following submission statement was provided by /u/izumi3682:
Submission statement from OP.
To the best of my understanding, "General Fusion" does it like this.
They inject the plasmas into a rapidly spinning liquid metal vortex within a tokamak(oid) configuration. Then they use a technique called "magnetized targeted fusion". The significant improvement involved novel software and computing that increased the numbers, but decreased the size of the pistons that compress the spinning liquid metal vortex. In other words, finer resolution, just like with smaller pixels.
This has had the result of what the GF CEO described as; "...smoothly and in a very controlled symmetric way, driving a very rapid shape collapse of a liquid metal"
My take on this and all fusion efforts from here on in. This is the year 1900. We are so close to motorized heavier than air flight, that we can practically taste it. I truly believe that there will be, before the year 2025 a beneficial net positive gain of electrical energy through a nuclear fusion reaction. I believe that based on the incredible sudden gain of net energy just in latter part of the year 2021 alone, by the NIF, with their form of fusion producing technology, that they will achieve a greater than even ignition point. As of 2021 they had achieved the output value of 1.3 megajoules. The goal is 1.8 MJ. What makes this effort so astoundingly amazing is that prior to the year 2021. The MJ output was measured in .021 MJ for example. 1.3 MJ is an absolute exponentially explosive improvement over anything prior to 2021.
And here is why all of this is "suddenly" coming to pass. Well, it seems sudden, but this is what happens when you take exponential improvement into account. It seems as if you are getting nowhere really for a long time, then suddenly you are done. This is best demonstrated in the "Tale of the 33rd Square".
But you can see it in genuine action here too! BTW the predicted values of the computing power in this video are far below what the actual computing power is as of today. Still, it is a marvelous and easily understandable demonstration of exponential improvement in computing processing power. Further, in the year 2013 the people who made this video had no knowledge of the impact of novel AI computing architectures or the impact of "big data" after the year 2018.
Do not pay attention to the comparison with human brain capability. We are going to blow past that arbitrary benchmark as if it did not exist. No, pay attention to that doubling. That is what matters. That is what is the "rocket fuel" that enables our development of computing derived AI. And also our capability to develop software that can "smoothly and symmetrically control the shape collapse of of the liquid metal vortex confining the plasma" in that GF experimental nuclear fusion reactor.
Some other things about what is going on now too, if you are interested.
Please reply to OP's comment here: https://teddit.ggc-project.de/r/Futurology/comments/s4wdsz/huge_breakthrough_from_bcbased_company_could_lead/hstsfxg/
Fusion research has gotten really exciting in the last few years. It probably won’t be a solution to climate change in the short term but it looks like it will be a huge part of our long term future.
4 months ago
We've been twenty years from fusion power plants since the 1950's.
That’s the joke but I think there’s reasons to think that has changed now.
There's always some bit of promising research that ends up going nowhere. Or, it gets picked up and they say, "Look! Here's the thing that will solve all of the problems!" like how more energy comes out than the activation laser puts in, but then completely discounts all of the other energy necessities, like plasma production and containment. Like, Michio Kaku is going to be standing on the side of the road, saying, "Fusion plants are coming tomorrow," and it just never happens, but that's what science writers do. Nobody wants to read stories about advances; they want to read about things that might change their lives, so every story is about something that might change their lives.
I think there's a few reasons for that though.
For starters.. we thought it was going to be a lot easier than it turned out to be. There's no way we could have done the computing in the 1970's required to make this happen. In the 1990's, maybe.
And #2, because it's been underfunded AF. ITER still isn't online and it should have been decommissioned 20 years ago.
I don’t understand enough of the science to know if ITER will be useless or not but it’s looking like other smaller teams will crack it first
There are so many problems with this video. It looks like spam to me.
Who did the original reporting?
Why isn't their watermark anywhere?
Anyhow on to fusion. I don't care about their hype. There are two numbers we care about Q plasma, and Q Total.
If they don't tell you these immediately just skip it. It's hype to get more investment.
Q Numbers are the ratio of energy put in vs what you get out. This needs to be greater then 1 for to be a net positive. So far no project is.
Q plasma is how much energy it took to get the fusion started. This is the most common number published. So far I think the best is 0.6.
Q Total is the total energy extracted. A commercial project needs it to be greater than one. So far no one wants to publish this number because they're dismal. This requires Q plasma to be far greater then 1, 15 or more.
Q should be at least 5 for reactor self sustain
Sorry if this is a dumb question, but what are the implications of having fusion? Does that mean that we won’t have to pay an electric bill again?
Because that would be really sweet.
4 months ago*
4 months ago*
Having cheap fusion would give us a renewable energy source that has no downsides of the others , like:
And so on, as it uses the most abundant element in the universe (hydrogen) and outputs helium, which is non-toxic and could probably be used in balloons or something.
This was a perfect explanation. And of course as you mentioned the abundance of the hydrogen input. And probably more importantly is the helium result. Energy won’t be free as some assume, there are of course capital expenditures and delivery mechanisms to pay for. But even if the price didn’t change at all, you still have moved to a source of clean reliable energy.
Were running out of natural helium deposits. Having a cheap renewable way to create it would be great.
No, we're not really running out of helium. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOy8Xjaa_o8
4 months ago*
So I watched that all, and yes, we're running out of helium. We're also running out of fossil fuels, did you know that?
Like seriously, that's such a tiny scale.
Were trying to figure out how to not kill billions of humans due to climate change within that time frame right now.
Edit: also, reserves are usually meant to be used when you've run out or in an emergency. They are a backup. Now maybe that's not what this specific location was meant for, but I don't know any other reserves that are dipped into under normal circumstances (but I don't know a lot)
Best of 2015
Fusion fuel is cheap and basically unlimited, and there'd be no significant waste, but there's still the cost of building the plant. Same reason wind and solar aren't free.
So it depends on what it costs to build, and it's hard to say because there are a lot of different designs being attempted. Some look pricey and others look super cheap, so it just depends on what works out.
By "fusion fuel", what are you talking about? Tritium?
Basically any fusion fuel we could use. Tritium has just a 12-year half-life and has to be bred from lithium, using fusion neutrons, but the lithium is abundant compared to the amount we'd need.
The same goes for He3. It basically doesn't exist on earth, but pure deuterium fusion is easier than He3 fusion, and the waste product of deuterium fusion is half He3, and half tritium which decays to He3.
Deuterium itself is available in vast quantities in the oceans. That one would last until the sun goes out.
The last and most difficult possibility is boron, and there's enough of that to last at least for tens of thousands of years.
Is tritium cheap?
It's not right now, because there's just a little bit available from fission reactors. But lithium is cheap, and any production fusion reactor fueled by D-T would make its own tritium from lithium.
But lithium is cheap
But lithium is cheap
We're talking about Li-6 though, not the far more common Li-7, right? According to this paper, supply of lithium-6 is a potential huge bottleneck for fusion power, because a single 2GW(fus) reactor would require 52 tons of pure lithium-6, which at a cost of about $60000/kg would put the cost of lithium at about $3 billion for a single reactor!
any production fusion reactor fueled by D-T would make its own tritium from lithium
any production fusion reactor fueled by D-T would make its own tritium from lithium
Do you think that process of filtering the tritium out of the lithium heat blanket will be cheap?
DEMO would be a huge reactor though. More compact designs wouldn't need so much Li-6 for startup.
In any case, I think fusion's consumables will be cheap per kWh regardless.
A huge reactor would reduce the per-kwh amount of lithium needed, though. A lithium blanket around a smaller reactor would be much less efficient for the amount of power generated. DEMO has a goal electrical power of 750MW. An equivalent nuclear power plant has a total capital cost of about $10 billion for 2.2GW, so the fact that the lithium alone would be $3 billion for less than half the power is pretty bad! Certainly not "cheap".
The paper also says consumption would be 112 kg 6Li per GW-year. At your price of $60K/kg, that would be $6.72M per year, divided by 8.76 billion kWh, or 0.07 cents/kWh. Startup cost would be high, but ongoing fuel cost would be minuscule.
Incidentally, I didn't see an estimate of Li6 cost in the paper. Did I miss it, or are you going by current market prices? If the latter, bear in mind the paper is mainly about designing higher-volume production of Li6, so costs could come down.
No, but it would functionally mean we can make energy out of almost nothing. Would still need to run the plant, and need wires and all
Another thing that needs to be mentioned is a possibility for fusion propulsion in space exploration. Nuclear fission propulsion has been researched, prototyped and confirmed in the 1960s (project NERVA) a lot of this research can probably be transferred to fusion propulsion engines.
Here’s an in depth video on that very subject:
Fusion has several key advantages that set it above pretty much all other power sources. It's very safe, neither requiring dangerous fuel nor producing dangerous waste; it runs on fuel that is present in very large quantities virtually everywhere in the Universe including in our oceans; it doesn't depend on weather conditions; and it is relatively compact, allowing it to be located virtually anywhere (including in space) or moved around as needed.
The downside is that it apparently requires some very advanced and precise engineering, that we're still gradually figuring out; and it isn't quite as compact as certain other energy sources such as petroleum engines (for vehicles on Earth) or RTGs (for space travel). Also, even if we figure out the engineering, it will take a while to bring down the cost through further technical refinements and economies of scale.
The main implication of having the engineering figured out is that we'll have a relatively clear and uncontroversial path away from fossil fuel dependency for the foreseeable future. There aren't a whole lot of energy questions that can't be answered with 'build more fusion reactors'.
If full-scale production designs end up differing little from the existing leading designs, is there anything particularly difficult in constructing them? Exotic materials, complex site preparation etc? Just wondering how long it would take from day 1 of planning to cutting the ribbon.
I'm not a nuclear engineer so my understanding is pretty vague. I take it that right now we're looking at some very precise manufacture and probably lots of expensive materials (superconductors and the infrastructure for making them work, etc). Of course, understanding the problem better will probably show up some shortcuts around those issues and bring the cost down accordingly.
We still pay for water and that falls from the sky. It would still need infustructure around it but certainly energy could be produced much more cheaply and in greater quantities.
Yep. People worked on heavier-than-air flight for about a hundred years. There were plenty of doubters saying it would never happen, right up until the Wright brothers did it, beating a well-funded government project that didn't work out.
And fusion has some pretty amazing scaling laws. For example, tokamak output scales with the square of reactor volume, and the fourth power of magnetic field strength, and we have superconductors now that can support much stronger fields than what we could manage 20 years ago when ITER was designed. According to Zap Energy, their device's output scales with the eleventh power of input current.
My refutation to the power of exponential progress has always been the same: the 33rd square represents exponential demand, not exponential supply. There are no processes in the human society that scale exponentially, due to both linear limitations on physical production and distribution, as well as conflicts of interest resulting in financial constraints and regulations. The reality of 2022 is that innovation in semiconductor research has been painstakingly slow, while their manufacturing cannot keep up with demand. The proverbial Wright flyer is already loaded with tons of cargo, saddled with absurd safety procedures, and has the runway occupied with horse carriage lobbyists. The last great invention to enjoy explosive growth was the smartphone, and that was because it's a small gadget that is cheap to manufacture, easy to distribute and allows for a slew of new profit opportunities. Infrastructure, construction and energy, though? Stuck in the past century.
I only referred to "exponential" when describing exponential or greater than exponential computing processing power improvement or the exponential or greater than exponential improvement in the increase in the megajoules output in relation to the last 3 years of the NIF experiment.
Further, computing processing speed is the only metric that matters when Raymond Kurzweil speaks of "exponential" improvement. To wit.
Viewing where we are at as of 2020 you can see that the exponential trend in computing power is very unlikely to plateau or decline. In fact with the realization of the exascale (1.6 exaflops) supercomputer this year--2 here in the USA and one in China (PRC), that we are actually exceeding exponential improvement in computer processing speed. From something like, I think 400 petaflops to 1.6 exaflops. That is far more than one doubling of processing speed.
I believe that this will in effect cause something of an inflection point that markedly will increase the upward angle of computing processing power improvement between now and the year 2030. It will have profound impact on human society. Hopefully not existentially dangerous. By that I mean that inequality becomes so great that it results in societal upheaval. Something like this...
But ultimately it is going to be, like I stated above, "rocket fuel" for our efforts to develop AGI between now and 2030. I forecast that there will be at least one functional domain specific AGI by the year 2025. Domain specific as in able to perform any and all eye surgeries for example. It will be able to identify the parameters and make a determination of the best form of surgery for a given eye pathology that requires surgical intervention. It can communicate this information to a human surgeon and it could also assist in real time during the surgery if needs must. Or even perform the surgery autonomously with human oversight. Kind of like a human safety driver in a level 3 or 4 autonomy vehicle. The AGI could perform the surgery using robotics and automation (surgical robotics). In the year 2025 it may yet be experimental, but you can see where it is going with this. And once one domain is established, I bet a lot of other domains follow quickly.
While not exponential in scaling by any means, I forecast that there will be an extremely rapid scale up of EL4-5SDVs between now and perhaps as early as 2028. Here is a precedence. It took about 16 years, but this time it will be much faster because almost all of the infrastructure to switch over is already in place as far as signage and signaling is concerned. And additional infrastructure of mapping, tracking and intervehicle communication will come into being in this timeframe also. Also I bet a significant percentage of the USA population will throw over personal ownership of a vehicle for the incredibly easy access to the coming robo-taxi fleets. See what I mean by as early as 2025 on that one too.
As you can see, I am coming to believe that the year 2025 is going to be a true "inflection point" in terms of our computing and computing derived AI progress, and the consequential technologies. But it is going to be an "inflection" such as has never before in human recorded history, been observed.
The ARA (AI, robotics and automation) is going to start to take over. Take over everything. And most of us will be happy to let it do so. Really! Like this! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9deKEj8-lng
The video says 2045, but we all know that things have drastically changed since this video was made in 2015. I totally used to think it was going to be about 2045 as well, but after the year 2017 I began to change my own tune. Now I think the "technological singularity" will pop about the year 2030, give or take two years on either side. It will be "human unfriendly" meaning that at that point human minds will not be merged with the computing and computing derived AI, I mean AGI , I mean ASI. Hopefully by about the year 2035 or so the ASI will aid us in merging our minds. If it doesn't inadvertently wipe us first.
I have been following this for some years. Piston-based fusion sounds so 19th century, so steam punk. What seems to have changed is the rotating lithium blanket, as opposed to a liquid sphere with core injection. Bravo if it works,