I'm Right Again Dot Com
A New Commentary Each Wednesday March 12, 2014
THE GIANT FUSION ENGINE POWER PLANT: I.T.E.R.
WARNING: Long-running sentences and unexplained theory may cause extreme glazing over of eyes, but this is the next really big thing for civilization: power released by the fusion of atoms. Please note that there is a difference between atomic fission and atomic fusion. Atomic fusion has yet to occur on our planet.
An "atomic bomb," more recently called a "nuclear weapon," is an instant fission furnace brought about by driving purified radioactive (fissionable) material such as uranium to a critical mass by exploding a TNT shell surrounding the material. The resulting chain reaction creates a really big bang. By employing an atomic bomb to drive one filled with hydrogen atoms to a chain reaction, creates an even greater bang.
So far, thermonuclear power plants produced energy when the radioactive material heats water, but a chain reaction causing an implosion does not take place. Control comes about when carbon rods are inserted between rods of the fissionable material. This is usually done by immersing all of the rods in water.
There has been at least one time in recent history, when at Chernobyl, Russia, something failed and fissionable material "ran away," causing the whole power plant to melt down and releasing clouds of radioactive material into the air. The most recent tsunami to hit Japan brought about the loss of a fission-type nuclear plant there and the subsequent discharge of radioactive materials, some of which is washing ashore on the west coast of the USA.
An ever growing problem with using radioactive material is what to do with the still somewhat radioactive waste.
All stars are suns. Each produces energy, including heat and light, as gravitational forces within them cause hydrogen atoms to fuse and become helium atoms. In time, every star runs out of hydrogen to convert. Suns simply burn out. In some cases, they begin to expand and in that process, destroy planets that may be orbiting then. Some stars become white dwarfs the size of our planet or very compact cinders. Some blow up (go Nova or Supernova) and throw off dust that later gives birth to new suns.
Not to worry. Since our sun is a "middle age, middle size" star, it is expected to keep warming us for many more millions of years.
Scientists say that a successful thermonuclear reactor operating by fusion will produce many times more energy than than those that operate by fission and will leave a scant amount of waste - because it will be fueled by hydrogen taken from seawater and not radioactive elements.
Two years ago, a cooperative effort of 35 countries began a plan to create ITER, an International Experimental Thermonuclear Reactor in the South of France, using the fusion of hydrogen atoms as the motivating force to produce power. If successful, it will the first time hydrogen atoms have been fused on the face of our planet.
Within a decade, it is hoped that a star can be produced in a twenty thousand ton vacuum chamber by bombarding a super-hot cloud of hydrogen twirling faster than the speed of sound with concentrated beams of uncharged particles. This man-made star is to be controlled by superconducting magnets cooled by liquid helium. This has been called, "The Star in a Bottle" concept.
It is the most ambitious project ever conceived by mankind.
I've never read how many trillions of dollars this essentially inexhaustible source of energy produced for the benefit of all humankind is going to cost nor how it's output is to be controlled, but the target date for start up is now 2020.
I'm certain those who have survived until then will have heard much, much more about it.
-Phil Richardson, Storyteller and Observer of the Human Condition.
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