Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Realisable fusion power

I commented on this fusion-fission hydrid reactor design on Futurismic a while ago.

Researchers at the university of Texas are developing a means to process spent nuclear fuel using fusion:

The scientists propose destroying the waste using a fusion-fission hybrid reactor, the centerpiece of which is a high power Compact Fusion Neutron Source (CFNS) made possible by a crucial invention.

The CFNS would provide abundant neutrons through fusion to a surrounding fission blanket that uses transuranic waste as nuclear fuel. The fusion-produced neutrons augment the fission reaction, imparting efficiency and stability to the waste incineration process.

The reason this is exciting is that it raises the possibility of a way of developing fusion technologies incrementally and economically. Instead of going all-out to build a nuclear fusion reactor in one step, putative nuclear fusion companies could market their wares as a means of processing the nasty transuranic waste output of conventional fission reactors.

This would provide fusion companies with a source of revenue to develop more advanced magnetic containment methods, and many of the other technical requirements of fusion electricity production.

The problem with fusion technology in the form of the ITER project is it's a massive, expensive, centralised, all-or-nothing endeavour.

I entirely support ITER: but it I'd love to see some this fission-fusion hybrid fuel cycle implemented in practice.

Charles Stross makes this point about incremental development but concerning the LiftPort group, a consortium that have made the mistake (as Stross sees it) of focusing on the development of an elevator system under the assumption that the revenue-generating fullerene cable technology would appear from somewhere else.

1 comment:

M. Simon said...

If you support ITER this should be near the top of your list:

Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained
Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been funded by the Obama administration?