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Page added on October 28, 2017

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Watch Our New Documentary About the Future of Fusion Energy

Every second for the last four-and-a-half billion years, trillions of hydrogen atoms have

been converted into helium in the Sun’s core and released an immense amount of energy in the process. This is a process known as nuclear fusion, and figuring out how to harness this source of virtually limitless clean energy on Earth has been a holy grail of physics for the last 80 years.

In the early days, most of the pioneering fusion research was done behind the closed doors of top secret government labs. At places like Sandia National Laboratory, physicists are still studying fusion energy using some of the most complex machines in the world in order to better understand the nuclear weapons fusion research helped create.

In the last two decades, however, venture capital has been pouring into fusion energy research and a number of private companies are locked in a race to be the first to connect a fusion power plant to the energy grid.

Motherboard visited Sandia National Laboratory and General Fusion, two of the preeminent fusion research facilities in the world, to find out if and when we will ever see fusion energy hit the world’s power grids. At Sandia, many of the physicists still consider fusion research to be in its early stages, despite its 80 year history. General Fusion, however, is convinced it can get a power plant online within a couple of decades.

Both private and publicly funded fusion are in a race against the clock to push the limits of fusion energy ever further before their funding dries up. Significant progress has been made in the last two decades, but will it be enough to ever create the hoped for ‘star in a jar’ here on Earth?

 



26 Comments on "Watch Our New Documentary About the Future of Fusion Energy"

  1. Anonymouse1 on Sat, 28th Oct 2017 6:25 pm 

    No, I don’t think so. I caught the words, ‘clean’, unlimited energy and ‘fusion’ all strung together. Tells me all I need to know-waste of photons, time, whatever.

  2. Thomas Ballentine on Sat, 28th Oct 2017 8:34 pm 

    Probably more productive to do DNA research on how to make pigs fly, or how to create better condoms. What a racket for some of the most brilliant minds in the world.

  3. Outcast_Searcher on Sat, 28th Oct 2017 8:56 pm 

    Anonymouse1: Why make stuff up? I listened carefully to the entire video. They said nothing remotely like “unlimited energy”. They were careful to use rational language and not over-reach.

    Note: I don’t hold out much hope for practical, cost competitive fusion power plants in, say, the next 50 years. For one thing, by the time it’s ready, things like solar, wind, and wave will likely be super cheap, reliable, and plentiful, and backed by good batteries.

    So I just see it as likely irrelevant, and VERY expensive and a long shot.

    But if doomers don’t want to hear something, better to make stuff up and yip about doom, as though that makes the fast crashers more credible.

  4. Anonymouse1 on Sat, 28th Oct 2017 10:00 pm 

    “this is a process known as nuclear fusion, and figuring out how to harness this source of virtually limitless clean energy on Earth”

    Guess you missed that part entirely huh? In case you hadn’t noticed by now, fusion advocates are seldom, if ever shy or the least bit reticent when it comes to using terms like ‘clean’ and\or unlimited on this topic.

    [Spoiler Alert]That includes these guys

    Feature, not a bug.

  5. makati1 on Sat, 28th Oct 2017 11:35 pm 

    A science fiction movie not worth my time.

  6. Outcast_Searcher on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 1:03 am 

    Anonymouse1, you’re right, I forgot to double check on the written piece. It’s like whoever did that had a different style than the careful, hopeful but honest tone of the video.

    And you’re right — I have seen a lot of claims of “virtually unlimited” energy and stuff like that referenced with fusion.

    Which is sloppy. Lot’s of energy doesn’t mean unlimited by any means.

    So my bad. Unlike many folks on the internet, when I’m wrong, I cheerfully admit it.

  7. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 1:44 am 

    I find that fusion is easily attained with
    some old tires and some old sofa’s.
    Put them together with enough gasoline
    to get them going, and the tires and sofa’s
    fuse together releasing terrific amounts of
    free and inexhaustible heat-energy.

    This is why I am sure this can be the energy
    source of the future, is old tires and old sofa’s lit on fire.

  8. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 1:53 am 

    It’s kinda funny they like to say that
    it’s replicating the fusion process that
    occurs in the core of the sun.

    But that fusion process is entirely different
    than the one proposed in the Toroidal reactors
    here on Earth.

    The sun process also has an extremely low
    rate of energy production and a low
    density of energy produced, only about 3 Watts in a cubic meter of sun-core, last time I checked.

    I seriously doubt anybody wants to hear any
    science on a site like Peak Oil (we just
    burn old couches & garbage here) but here
    is a link for the sun fusion process:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton%E2%80%93proton_chain_reaction

    This reaction has absolutely nothing
    whatsoever to do with the much faster/hotter
    process that they want to run in the reactors.

    Neither method will be the slightest bit
    useful for keeping our lights on, or
    keeping that 1979 Lincoln Continental Mark V
    all filled up with gasoline.

    Woahhh, here is a real nice one:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/1979-Lincoln-Continental-Leather/292307014580?hash=item440edb13b4:g:3SMAAOSwoG5Z76vD&vxp=mtr

  9. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 2:24 am 

    LOL 43 years since he graduated and he made big bux the whole time on fusion scams that never worked and never will. Got the Barbie doll wife, the big house, the swimming pool, the 2.5 kids and the 1.5 dogs, couple of
    Volvo’s (the eggheads always drive Volvo’s)

    With results like that, I’d say that fusion works just great !!!

    Hmmmm. The Z machine is presented as
    though it is a fusion machine. It is
    not a fusion topic. It produces big
    lightning bolts which can be for a variety
    of research purposes.

    Why is that part of the fusion documentary?
    Why not include the LIGO gravity wave detector also?

  10. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 2:27 am 

    Yo Mr. Thomas B., we can make a pig fly
    if we strap a big rocket onto its butt,
    and glue some wings onto either side.

    McDonald’s will fund the project,
    because their Sausage McMuffin is fast food.

  11. Cloggie on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 3:16 am 

    Another morning, a cup of coffee and the computer screen:

    NW-Europe is hit by a storm. Average windspeed 21 m/s, so they need to put the breaks on the wind turbines of the brand-new Gemini offshore wind farm (600 MW):

    Live data:

    http://livemegawatt.com/gemini/

    Alex Jones merrily reports that the US establishment is “collapsing”:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKbVHZ1Dwo4

    Not to be outdone by Jones, Pat Buchanan opines that Trump has taken back and now controls the Republican party:

    http://buchanan.org/blog/trumps-party-now-2-127791

    What’s next, the country?

    He doesn’t say taken back from whom, but I’ll tell ya: the swampy neocons.

    And how to bring this news to forum buddy apneaman, here is the map of Neom:

    http://tinyurl.com/y8knumeq

    Neom is the planned mega-city to the tune of 26,000 km2 (slightly bigger than Israel and more densely populated), suspiciously located near the Israeli border. And they are going to build a bridge between KSA and Egypt as well, near Sharm-el-Sheikh.

    Ah well, the KSA government needs to park all these millions of potential Jihadis-with-an-attitude somewhere.

    And since these camel jockeys can’t be trusted to complete the job all by themselves, they hired competence in the form of a German Klaus Blofeld, eh no, Kleinfeld, a former Siemens CEO:

    http://www.dw.com/en/ex-siemens-ceo-klaus-kleinfeld-thinking-big-again/a-41112091

    Expect the IDF currently working overtime.

    In Northern Italy, Venice and Lombardy voted overwhelmingly for more autonomy, but were wise enough not to push for independence and potentially get their cities turned to into rubble and become another Grozny.

    Reason? Here is where the money is in Europe:

    http://tinyurl.com/y7olcdhh

    Southern Ireland (US firms EU-HQ), Aberdeen (oil), Amsterdam area, Paris (outshining London, Blair’s “Cool Britannia” boom is clearly over), Bavaria (BMW, Audi), Frankfurt (banking), Stockholm, Flanders (EU capital) and Luxemburg/Switzerland (financial swindle).

  12. Cloggie on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 3:46 am 

    Today Germany is PAYING customers to consume electricity, because there is way too much renewable electricity.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/germany-grids-paying-electricity-customers-renewable-energy-power-surplus-wind-solar-generation-a8022576.html

    This “problem” will be solved in the future by generating H2 or NH3 instead.

  13. Davy on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 4:37 am 

    “In Northern Italy, Venice and Lombardy voted overwhelmingly for more autonomy, but were wise enough not to push for independence and potentially get their cities turned to into rubble and become another Grozny.”

    Geeze by who clogged, the grand Euro Army?

  14. Davy on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 4:38 am 

    “Reason? Here is where the money is in Europe:”
    http://tinyurl.com/y7olcdhh

    reference data or you are talking out your ass

  15. Davy on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 4:39 am 

    “Today Germany is PAYING customers to consume electricity, because there is way too much renewable electricity.”

    Where in Germany clogged and where is the data to reference what you are talking about. Talking out your ass?

  16. Davy on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 4:41 am 

    “This “problem” will be solved in the future by generating H2 or NH3 instead.”

    How clogged and do you have any references or you are talking out your ass.

  17. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 4:47 am 

    I got to re learn my chemistry.
    NH3. If Nitrogen has atomic number 7,
    how do ya stick 3 hydrogen’s on it. ?

    They should outlaw NH3 ammonia. Smells bad.

  18. Cloggie on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 4:54 am 

    “Reason? Here is where the money is in Europe:”
    http://tinyurl.com/y7olcdhh
    reference data or you are talking out your ass

    Put on your glasses, trailer park thug and read the bottom line: EuroStat.

    Where in Germany clogged and where is the data to reference what you are talking about. Talking out your ass?

    Read the Independent.co.uk link I provided, lazy slow brains.

  19. Davy on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 5:11 am 

    nope, give me the data I am not going to your personal web page to sift through your extremist shit with an agenda. It is not my job. Show the beef you intellectual bum.

  20. Cloggie on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 5:43 am 

    your extremist shit with an agenda

    Reports from hydrogen and ammonia plants now count as “extremist shit with an agenda”?!

    You are losing it Davy.

    First you ask for references and when I give them to you, you refuse to read the short content.

    You are not interested in a discussion.

  21. Davy on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 5:57 am 

    There are limits to energy efficiency. There are diminishing returns that kick in at a point. Complexity makes the system more brittle and at risk. I am not saying we should not do some of this. I am saying we need to be sober and specific where we use energy efficiency efforts. At the same time we need to be making efforts at demand management with strategies of increasing reliance and sustainability. Some of this involves renewables but a lot of it involves education. Pure unadulterated techno optimistic efforts are just malinvestment long term because they assume ever increasing affluence which is a farce.

    We need people to know energy is going to become much more expensive in relative terms and absolute terms. This is because of limits and diminishing returns no matter how far off they are and they are closer daily. Currently low interest rates and artificial liquidity have allowed bubbles. These bubbles have artificially generated an oil glut and a renewable energy price decline. These efforts were driven by cheap money and over capacity caused by central bank distorting economics. If we wade through the sewer of unreality that is today’s global economy we can see the future does not look good on the fossil fuel front or the alternative energy front.

    An economic contraction will cause an already harmed fossil fuel industry to contract even more. Don’t let the glut fool you. New discoveries are very poor. New projects are not being invested in a healthy aggregate way. All that investment needed to keep the infrastructure healthy is not great. On the renewable energy front we have price hype. Renewable energy costs for equipment and applications into the grid are not realistic per the hype if rates and capital liquidity were normalized. Governments are subsidizing these industries heavily and that can’t last especially if there is a down turn in the economic situation. Economies always cycle and they long are cycle is delayed the worse they are. Maybe this down turn will come 5 years from now. In that case much needed building out of renewables will occur but don’t think for a moment a renewable revolution leading to an over 50% transition is guaranteed. A 100% renewable transition is likely not even possible per physics and human nature.

    We have a global economy at or near a phase change. This is being held together by dubious central bank policy and frothy markets. This is not some kind of health club with yoga and wheat grass drinks. This is a pub in a low rent district with alcoholics wasting away talking fast cars and loose women. I am all for as much renewable penetration as possible. I am all for specific and targeted energy efficiency policy. I am all for careful reduction of fossil fuels were we can. But I am mostly for rational and honest self-reflection of a very poor situation we are in.

    One must remember that it takes a healthy economy to do all this and we are marginally healthy now as in we are robbing Peter to pay Paul in wealth transfer and a gutting of the social and ecosystem fabric. Even my pet peeve demand management takes money because it takes policy and education. The altered behavior has an opportunity cost. Nothing is free in this world of catch 22 predicaments. We will have to pay the piper any which way we go. Altered behavior has a costs direct and indirect. There are consequences and unintended consequences. I am all for energy efficiency, demand management, efforts at renewable energy but let’s not forget we have huge problems so let’s keep it realistic. Let remember diminishing returns is in effect with technology and economics. Let’s remember we have huge problems that really are predicaments we are in denial of.

  22. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 11:12 pm 

    Davy when ya write that much BS, we can’t read it.
    Ya gotta figure out how to just say something simple
    and quick. Like, “all Americans are fat and stupid”.
    See you coulda posted that, it would be only 6 words.

  23. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 29th Oct 2017 11:21 pm 

    Desperate demoralized imperialist capitalist?

    Who is that? Surely not me.

    Why at this rate, the only country NOT crawling with
    Muslim terrorists, is the USA. Guess that makes us
    “last man standing”.

    Just cause all Americans weigh 200 kilograms and
    eat from plates the size of garbage pail lids.

    Just cause we can’t do simple arithmetic or
    spell our own names. Just cause we put Trump in the
    White House, Jusr cause we all get 11 miles per gallon
    driving our 460 cubic inch V-8’s ten miles each way
    To bring home a gallon of ice cream and a pizza.
    Just cause of all that ya think your superior?

    Naaah. You’re just scared of a bunch of 200 kilogram
    fat hogs with nuclear warheads and looking
    for cheap gasoline.
    I think the correct terminology is
    Capitalist Imperialist Pig Dog.

  24. Davy on Mon, 30th Oct 2017 5:41 am 

    “Davy when ya write that much BS, we can’t read it.”
    Speeder it is code. I thought you were smarter than that. Conspiracy addicts love secret codes. You have been breathing too many neurotoxins burning all those couches. Start at the end and read backwards with the words backwards and pick out the resulting sentences and get back to me I think you will be amazed.

  25. Go Speed Racer on Mon, 30th Oct 2017 5:15 pm 

    OK Davy
    and that is complicated.
    But I can get some help with that,
    from Trixie and Spritle.

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