UK fusion experiment used in hunt for clean energy

Posted: October 30, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation, Nuclear power
Tags: ,

[credit: green lantern electric]


Would it be churlish to ask what is powering this contraption? ‘Hunting for clean energy’ implies you want to use it exclusively. Now they try to justify the thing as potentially ‘tackling the climate crisis’, which looks like two illusions rolled into one. It took seven years just to build it.
– – –
A pioneering nuclear fusion experiment based in Oxfordshire has been switched on for the first time, reports BBC News.

Mast Upgrade could clear some of the hurdles to delivering clean, limitless energy for the grid.

Fusion differs from fission, the technology used by existing nuclear power plants, because it could release vast amounts of energy with little associated radioactivity.

The £55m machine has taken seven years to build.

Current nuclear energy relies on fission, where a heavy chemical element is split to produce lighter ones.

But nuclear fusion works by combining two light elements to make a heavier one. It’s an attempt to replicate the processes of the Sun here on Earth.

Unlike fission, it produces no long-lived radioactive waste and could transform the way we source our power – tackling the climate crisis at the same time.

Mast (Mega Amp Spherical Tokamak) Upgrade will use an innovative design known as a spherical tokamak.

The tokamak is a fusion device that uses magnetic fields to confine the plasma – hot, ionised gas – inside a vessel. This plasma allows the light elements to fuse and yield energy.

Full article here.

Comments
  1. Graeme No.3 says:

    I think the BBC reporters were shown some complex machine and told it would ‘go ping’.
    Or was it 42 in binary?

  2. tom0mason says:

    “But nuclear fusion works by combining two light elements to make a heavier one. It’s an attempt to replicate the processes of the Sun here on Earth.”

    Does it? Really?

  3. Chaswarnertoo says:

    Well, we’re still here…..😎

  4. Gamecock says:

    ‘The tokamak is a fusion device’

    A little premature there, BBC.

  5. ivan says:

    Someone has been reading science fiction from the 50s and 60s again – fusion power was all the rage back then.

  6. pochas94 says:

    Even if the chance for success is small, this is worth doing because of the immense benefits to be gained.

  7. JB says:

    “replicate the processes of the Sun”

    Not even close. The idea that the Sun is a fusion reactor isn’t even tenable. Many have explained why, but most refuse to accept the disproofs.

  8. oldbrew says:

    “the big challenge behind the spherical tokamak is that the boundary conditions behind making fusion happen is that you need the fuel to be 10 times hotter than the Sun.

    “If you put that into a much smaller box… the chances of melting the walls of the box are much higher. So you need a really clever way of getting the heat out.”

    What the engineers and physicists at Culham have done is design a complex and technically challenging exhaust system.
    – – –
    Stand well back during testing, preferably next to the exit.

  9. Gamecock says:

    “The idea that the Sun is a fusion reactor isn’t even tenable.”

    That’s just weird.

  10. Curious George says:

    Does “hunting for deer” imply that you want to eat deer meat exclusively?

  11. oldbrew says:

    Meanwhile, old-fashioned nuclear gets a mention…

    BBC: New nuclear plant at Sizewell set for green light

    The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has said the road to net zero will require a combination of technologies.

    It will also cost a lot of money which, one way or another, will be paid by consumers and taxpayers.
    . . .
    The CCC estimates the cost of getting to net zero by 2050 at a TRILLION pounds. That means spending £30bn a year – every year – for the next 30 years. That’s roughly 1.5% of UK GDP. Put that way, it sounds possible but is still a very, very formidable target.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-54754016
    – – –
    ‘formidable target’ should read ‘futile target’.

  12. Gamecock says:

    ‘formidable target’

    As you kill the economy, you demand more from it. Neolithic economies don’t have a trillion pounds.

    “Why make trillions when we can make billions?”

    You won’t even have millions.

  13. dennisambler says:

    Heard on the news in connection with Sizewell: It won’t be possible to get to Net Zero by 2050 just with Renewables, because… wait for it…the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.

    Is progress being made?

  14. oldbrew says:

    dennis – before long they might even find that the sun shines a lot less than half the time from a UK point of view.

    Net zero is when neither wind or sun is doing anything for your country/location.

  15. Curious George says:

    Net zero target … CO2 or IQ?

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