On May 13, 12:00 pm, Frogwatch mindspring.com> wrote:
> On May 13, 11:19 am, Jack Linthicum earthlink.net>
>> Wait for the fusion.
>> New Project Aims for Fusion Ignition: Ignitor Reactor Could Be World’s
>> First to Reach Major Milestone
>> Exterior view of the Ignitor fusion reactor, whose core will be built
>> in Italy and external housing built outside Moscow, where it will be
>> installed. (Credit: Image courtesy of Bruno Coppi)
>> ScienceDaily (May 12, 2010) — Russia and Italy have entered into an
>> agreement to build a new fusion reactor outside Moscow that could
>> become the first such reactor to achieve ignition, the point where a
>> fusion reaction becomes self-sustaining instead of requiring a
>> constant input of energy. The design for the reactor, called Ignitor,
>> originated with MIT physics professor Bruno Coppi, who will be the
>> project's principal investigator.
>> The concept for the new reactor builds on decades of experience with
>> MIT's Alcator fusion research program, also initiated by Coppi, which
>> in its present version (called Alcator C-Mod) has the highest magnetic
>> field and highest plasma pressure (two of the most important measures
>> of performance in magnetic fusion) of any fusion reactor, and is the
>> largest university-based fusion reactor in the world.
>> The key ingredient in all fusion experiments is plasma, a kind of hot
>> gas made up of charged particles such as atomic nuclei and electrons.
>> In fusion reactors, atomic nuclei -- usually of isotopes of hydrogen
>> called deuterium and tritium -- are forced together through a
>> combination of heat and pressure to overcome their natural
>> electrostatic repulsion. When the nuclei join together, or fuse, they
>> release prodigious amounts of energy.
>> Ignitor would be about twice the size of Alcator C-Mod, with a main
>> donut-shaped chamber 1.3 meters across, and have an even stronger
>> magnetic field. It will be much smaller and less expensive than the
>> major international fusion project called ITER (with a chamber 6.2
>> meters across), currently under construction in France. Though
>> originally designed to achieve ignition, the ITER reactor has been
>> scaled back and is now not expected to reach that milestone.
>> The Ignitor reactor, Coppi says, will be "a very compact, inexpensive
>> type of machine," and unlike the larger ITER could be ready to begin
>> operations within a few years. Its design is based on a particularly
>> effective combination of factors that researchers unexpectedly
>> discovered during the many years of running the Alcator program, and
>> that were later confirmed in experiments at other reactors. Together,
>> these factors produce especially good confinement of the plasma and a
>> high degree of purity (impurities in the hot gases can be a major
>> source of inefficiency). The new design aims to preserve these
>> features to produce the highest plasma current densities -- the amount
>> of electric current in a given area of plasma. The design also has
>> additional structures needed to produce and confine burning fusion
>> plasmas in order to create the conditions needed for ignition, Coppi
>> Coppi plans to work with the Italian ministry of research and Evgeny
>> Velikhov, president of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, to finalize
>> the distribution of tasks for the machine, the core of which is to be
>> built in Italy and then installed in Troitsk, near Moscow, on the site
>> of that institute's present Triniti reactor. Velikhov, as it happens,
>> is also the chair of the ITER council. Coppi says of these two
>> different programs, "there's no competition, we are complementary."
>> Although seen as a possible significant contributor to the world's
>> energy needs because it would be free of greenhouse-gas emissions,
>> practical fusion power remains at least two decades away, most
>> scientists in the field agree. But the initial impetus for setting up
>> the Alcator reactor in the 1970s had more to do with pure science: "It
>> was set up to simulate the X-ray stars that we knew at that time,"
>> says Coppi, whose research work has as much to do with astrophysics as
>> with energy. Stars are themselves made of plasma and powered by
>> fusion, and the only way to study their atomic-level behavior in
>> detail is through experiments inside fusion reactors.
>> Once the reactor was in operation, he says, "we found we were
>> producing plasmas with unusual properties," and realized this might
>> represent a path to the long-sought goal of fusion ignition.
>> Roscoe White, a distinguished research fellow at the Princeton Plasma
>> Physics Laboratory, says that "the whole point of Ignitor is to find
>> out how a burning plasma behaves, and there could be pleasant or
>> unpleasant results coming from it. Whatever is learned is a gain.
>> Nobody knows exactly how it will perform, that is the point of the
>> experiment." But while its exact results are unknown, White says it is
>> important to pursue this project in addition to other approaches to
>> fusion. "With our present knowledge it is very risky to commit the
>> program to a single track reactor development -- our knowledge is
>> still in flux," he says.
>> In addition, he says, "the completion of ITER, the only currently
>> projected burning plasma experiment, is decades off. Experimental data
>> concerning a burning plasma would be very welcome, and could lead to
>> important results helping the cause of practical fusion power."
>> Furthermore, the Ignitor approach, if all goes well, could lead to
>> more compact and economical future reactors: Some recent results from
>> existing reactors, plus new information to be gained from Ignitor,
>> "could lead to reactor designs much smaller and simpler than ITER," he
>> Coppi remains especially interested in the potential of the new
>> reactor to make new discoveries about fundamental physics. Quoting the
>> late MIT physicist and Institute Professor Bruno Rossi, Coppi says,
>> "whenever you do experiments in an unknown regime, you will find
>> something new." The new machine's findings, he suggests, "will have a
>> strong impact on astrophysics."
> So far, "cold fusion" has been far more cost effective than hot fusion.
yeah both zero results but lots of grants for hot, fewer for cold.