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Power Science

Fusion Power Breakthrough Near At Sandia Labs? 358

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An achievement that would have extraordinary energy and defense implications might be near at Sandia National Laboratories. The lab is testing a concept called MagLIF (Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion), which uses magnetic fields and laser pre-heating in the quest for energetic fusion. A paper by Sandia researchers that was accepted for publication states that the Z-pinch driven MagLIF fusion could reach 'high-gain' fusion conditions, where the fusion energy released greatly exceeds (by more than 1,000 times) the energy supplied to the fuel."
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Fusion Power Breakthrough Near At Sandia Labs?

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  • near end of 2013? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @03:50PM (#41378345) Homepage Journal

    so uhh.. call us in a year if it works, ok? that the parts which are known to work do work isn't really news you know.

  • by iamjonah (1702570) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @03:53PM (#41378387)
    Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word "no".
  • Re:great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Abreu (173023) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @03:55PM (#41378431)

    Is there any evidence (real evidence, not YouTube videos of guys in their basements) of any "revolutionary, clean energy technology" being bought out and extinguished by the oil industry?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @04:22PM (#41378815)

    Wait a sec.... so american "engineers" can manage to get 400 BHP out of a six liter now?

    Another few decades of practice and they might make a car worth owning.

  • Re:great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @04:43PM (#41379149) Journal

    All they have to do to make profit is make it cheaper then current forms of electricity. This will not be back yard inventor stuff where every home is powered by one built out of spare parts. It will be something sitting on a large site with power transmissions lines coming to it that is selling the electricity on a market. If it costs more to make then current forms, it will not be used. If it costs less, it will be implemented.

  • Re:great! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @04:57PM (#41379335)

    I made a working engine that ran off of tap water.

    Its only limitation was radius: the length of one garden hose.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @05:23PM (#41379739) Homepage

    Large scale is very dumb. Make 25KW units and put thousands of them across the city. Cheaper, easier, and reliability of the grid goes up dramatically.

  • Re:great! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @07:39PM (#41381257)

    Someone asked for evidence, not patents. People have patented the stupidest shit in the world. Furthermore, if the patents are more than 20 years-old, it doesn't matter who is sitting on them, anyone can use them (and being patents, everyone can see and read them).

  • Re:great! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @08:14PM (#41381593)

    It will be sold, by the kindly government, on behalf of the people, for a ridiculously low price to a corporation who has spent the most money bribing politicians. The corporation will then sell it back to you for ridiculously inflated prices, and sue the shit out of any others who try to enter the market.

    God bless the free market.

  • Re:No! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by History's Coming To (1059484) on Tuesday September 18, 2012 @08:53PM (#41381903) Journal
    40 years ago we could produce large amounts of fusion energy, just not in a particularly controlled manner.

    20 years ago we could produce controlled energy from fusion, but it required a bigger input than output, and only lasted for milliseconds.

    Now we can produce controlled energy from fusion, at ratios a little greater than unity, for tens of seconds.

    ~20 years from now (timetabled for 2035) we will hopefully have a proof-of-concept commercial fusion reactor feeding electricity into the grids.

    There's an element of truth in the "power of the future, and always will be!" gag, and it has been a very long hard slog, but advances are being made, albeit slowly compared to the development of fission energy production. That said, the first steam engine was made in ancient Greece, but didn't become a large scale commercial venture until the industrial revolution, and compared to that fusion research has happened in the blink of an eye.
  • Re:great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv.vadivNO@SPAMneverbox.com> on Wednesday September 19, 2012 @12:28AM (#41383187) Homepage

    And when did 50 MPG become some sort of incredible technological triumph in the first place?

    It's actually pretty easy to make a vehicle from the 1980s get 50 MPG via modifications. Machine the engine to incredibly tight tolerances, use super high quality oil, implement some stuff that modern cars already do via computerized fuel injection, strip out the emission controls, preheat gasoline (which is what appears to be done here)...50 MPG is impressive, but not some sort of impossible thing.

    In fact, a lot of the patents in that list appear to be carburetor tricks for creating air-fuel mixes. Anyone who thinks they are even slightly useful does not quite understand that a) we've moved past carburetors, and b) the fuel-injection systems we replaced them with already do many of those 'tricks', or don't need them. Fuel injectors are constantly adjusting based on engine temp and all sorts of things, and do not operate by by the crazy method of 'mixing air and gas by hitting a moving metal flap with gasoline' which required all sorts of odd tricks to make things work right.

    In short: The guy was right. By correctly varying the air-fuel mixture, much higher MPGs can be reached. It's how we went from 20 MPG in the 80s to 40 MPGs now. The problem is, while _he_ was working on stupid carburetor tricks, other people were inventing fuel injection operated by computers that do all this stuff magically.

    And the problem with the _rest_ of the changes, tightening tolerances and whatnot, is now you've made the car 10 times as expensive, as all that has to be done by hand...and the damn engine will blow up at the slightest piece of dirt that gets in, or when the oil pressure drops by 10%, or just rip itself apart when you run out of gas. And oil costs about fifty times what it should.

    Any idiot can get rid of a dozen 'inefficiencies' of an automobile engine that actually exist because the thing is designed to operate, and be maintained, and parts replaced, in real world conditions, not a damn clean room. Car companies do not sell cars like that, as they would not make it out of the two-year warranty.

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