Homepage Forums Aneutronic Fusion Cost, Timing for First Clean Fusion Power Plant

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  • #1283

    Before he died in 2007, Robert Bussard claimed that given 6 years and up to $200 million he and his team could build the world’s first real net-power clean fusion system electric power plant.

    Is this true today of the ECM2 team or any other team? If not, what is the best guess?

    #11094
    Avatarvansig
    Member

    Mike Weber Goodenow wrote: Before he died in 2007, Robert Bussard claimed that given 6 years and up to $200 million he and his team could build the world’s first real net-power clean fusion system electric power plant.

    Is this true today of the ECM2 team or any other team? If not, what is the best guess?

    as far as i know, scaling parameters for polywell have not changed

    #11096
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    vansig wrote:

    Before he died in 2007, Robert Bussard claimed that given 6 years and up to $200 million he and his team could build the world’s first real net-power clean fusion system electric power plant.

    Is this true today of the ECM2 team or any other team? If not, what is the best guess?

    as far as i know, scaling parameters for polywell have not changed

    LPP said they think that it’ll take about 5 years to get a generator after feasibility is demonstrated… and that test is hoped to happen early 2012.

    And I think I recall Lerner-hakase saying that the generator development should cost about $25-30 million.

    Now can anyone figure out if Tri-alpha is just flirting with neutronic fusion om the way to aneutronic… or have they simply given up on getting to aneutronic with their device?

    #11102

    Extremely interesting. $25 to $30 million for a generator, within 5 years of a successful test, which may be 3 months away? That’s fascinating.

    But is a generator different than an electric power plant? If so, would a clean fusion (aneutronic) electric power plant still be $100 to $200 million? What can you do with the generator?

    #11103
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    Mike Weber Goodenow wrote: Extremely interesting. $25 to $30 million for a generator, within 5 years of a successful test, which may be 3 months away? That’s fascinating.

    But is a generator different than an electric power plant?

    With aneutronic fusion the generator would be tied closely to the structure of the reactor so all you’d need is the cooling gear, the electrical distribution gear, a weather housing and a fence to keep people away from the high voltage.

    It wouldn’t be like a fission or neutronic fusion plant, which needs to have all the expensive turbine and accessory gear of a coal-fired plant adjacent to the reactor.

    Theoretically you could stuff one or two 5 MWe FF units, cooling gear and transformers into a standard 40 foot shipping container for a complete portable genset.

    Other aneutronic contenders such as Polywell would be intrinsically larger but would still be far smaller than any fossil, fission or neutronic fusion plant.

    Mike Weber Goodenow wrote: If so, would a clean fusion (aneutronic) electric power plant still be $100 to $200 million?

    Depends on the device… last estimate I remember for a Focus Fusion 5 MWe unit was $300,000 dollars. Add cooling, power distribution, land and fence and I can’t see it costing any more the $6-700,000. Add another FF unit or three and you’d get a nice equivalent of a self-powered suburban 20 MWe substation for maybe $1.6 million?

    A Polywell was estimated to cost about $100 million but they are supposed to start out at 100 MWe and scale up rapidly from there.

    Aneutronic means really cheap power plants 🙂

    Mike Weber Goodenow wrote: What can you do with the generator?

    … add cooling (air-cooled for FF), distribution gear, land and a fence… or a shipping container…

    Attached find a rough outline of a 5 MWe FF unit such as you might find powering a neighborhood, a commercial complex or a manufacturing plant.

    side note:
    For the FF’s moderate heat output the cooling solution shown here is a bit overblown (literally 🙂 ) but it keeps people from freaking themselves out with the notion that heat from the plant is somehow going to turn nearby people into beef jerky…. elsewhere in the forum you’ll find schemes where I take the cooling to ridiculous heights just to show that it isn’t the problem that people can scare themselves into thinking it might be.

    This design would have air from the stack carrying ~7 MWt from the plant at 600 degrees C… and the stack parameters are over and above those for a commercial portable 20 MWe gas turbine genset which has a stack exhaust temp of ~900 C. Cooling ain’t a problem for FF plants.

    Attached files

    #11113
    Avatarnemmart
    Member

    Mike Weber Goodenow wrote: Extremely interesting. $25 to $30 million for a generator, within 5 years of a successful test, which may be 3 months away? That’s fascinating.

    Er, I’d say 3 months away is a wee bit on the optimistic side.

    #11114
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    nemmart wrote:

    Extremely interesting. $25 to $30 million for a generator, within 5 years of a successful test, which may be 3 months away? That’s fascinating.

    Er, I’d say 3 months away is a wee bit on the optimistic side.

    My original, if ungrammatical, statement was “… and that test is hoped to happen early 2012.”

    Will there be even more chapters added to the ever-growing epic titled “[em]Unexpected Adventures in Fusion Engineering[/em]” along the way? Probably 🙂

    But they are now working with the desired voltage and even with o-ring concerns and what else they don’t seem to be all that far away from the next step. And the next step beyond 45kv is the smaller electrodes… and then boron.

    There are no guarantees, of course, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are trying to burn boron by March. Not that we’ll hear all that much about it at the time… LPP has made it very clear that after they start working with boron they’ll stay quiet until they have the results nailed down one way or another.

    And if that happens then I wouldn’t be surprised if we get an announcement of acceptance for publication in the summer of 2012.

    In other words we do seem to be looking at a time scale of months and not years… barring surprises 🙂

    #11127
    Avatardennisp
    Member

    I’ll be surprised if we don’t have more surprises…but maybe I’ll get a climatecolab entry ready for it just in case: “never mind everything else, just commercialize FF”…

    I’m having trouble imagining how happy that would make me.

    #11170

    Thanks, zapkitty. Extremely useful information. The country should get ready for cheap clean fusion, I think. 🙂

    #11171
    AvatarMatt M
    Member

    Sometimes we forget that 1/2 of the people on the planet heat and cook with
    wood or dung. Cheap fusion would mean real hope for them.

    #11172
    AvatarTulse
    Participant

    Matt M wrote: Sometimes we forget that 1/2 of the people on the planet heat and cook with
    wood or dung. Cheap fusion would mean real hope for them.

    Unfortunately, I’d guess that folks using those sources of energy are so poor, and/or in areas with such poor infrastructure, and/or are overseen by such corrupt governments, that cheap fusion would not make much of a difference in the short or medium term. These are folks who could not afford a gas generator even if the fuel itself was free (much less the electrical devices it would run), so I can’t imagine that cheap fusion would make more economic sense for them.

    I do think that cheap fusion has [em]enormous[/em] potential to drive economic development in the long term and lift huge swathes of people out of poverty, but largely by making economies richer in general, and not in direct help to the profoundly poor with their energy needs.

    #11177

    Well, there are a wide variety of per-capita incomes in the developing world. Some of the super-poor communities may not be able to afford anything other than wood and dung. But we are on our way to 10 billion people by 2080, so I’m sure clean fusion will be used in many, many places in the developing world in the short-term, medium-term, and long-term.

    #11179
    AvatarTulse
    Participant

    Mike Weber Goodenow wrote: Well, there are a wide variety of per-capita incomes in the developing world. Some of the super-poor communities may not be able to afford anything other than wood and dung. But we are on our way to 10 billion people by 2080, so I’m sure clean fusion will be used in many, many places in the developing world in the short-term, medium-term, and long-term.

    I completely agree, I just think that the benefit won’t be immediate for those using dung heating — the poorest of the poor are not suddenly going to get a shipping-container-sized FF device plopped in their neighbourhood (and if they did, they couldn’t afford the electric heaters needed to benefit from it).

    #11186
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Tulse wrote:

    Well, there are a wide variety of per-capita incomes in the developing world. Some of the super-poor communities may not be able to afford anything other than wood and dung. But we are on our way to 10 billion people by 2080, so I’m sure clean fusion will be used in many, many places in the developing world in the short-term, medium-term, and long-term.

    I completely agree, I just think that the benefit won’t be immediate for those using dung heating — the poorest of the poor are not suddenly going to get a shipping-container-sized FF device plopped in their neighbourhood (and if they did, they couldn’t afford the electric heaters needed to benefit from it).

    You might be surprised. The time freed up from fuel-gathering is often rapidly turned into micro-enterprise by people (notably the women). Markets spring up, cell phones appear and start co-ordinating things, etc.

    And a basic 5 MW unit can drive literally thousands of residential/micro-enterprise establishments in such areas.

    #11194
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    Brian H wrote: You might be surprised. The time freed up from fuel-gathering is often rapidly turned into micro-enterprise by people (notably the women). Markets spring up, cell phones appear and start co-ordinating things, etc.

    And a basic 5 MW unit can drive literally thousands of residential/micro-enterprise establishments in such areas.

    … a recent theme has been such people using small solar panels to provide lights, cell phone charging etc.

    There could be areas where even a single FF unit would be expensive overkill at first but cheaper solar panels produced in FF-powered factories would be an affordable option.

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