Homepage Forums Aneutronic Fusion Estimating aneutronic fuel supplies + Graph

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  • #1237
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    David MacKay’s book, “Without Hot Air” is an excellent reference to compare renewable energy options.

    Please help us draft info to help update the chapter on fusion. Currently it reads:

    I think it is reckless to assume that the fusion problem will be cracked, but I’m happy to estimate how much power fusion could deliver, if the problem is cracked.

    The two fusion reactions that are considered the most promising are:

    the DT reaction, which fuses deuterium with tritium, making helium; and

    the DD reaction, which fuses deuterium with deuterium.

    It also mentions Lithium, but omits pB11. We’ll need to inform MacKay about the Aneutronic possibilities. Happily estimate how much power aneutronic can deliver.

    On the next page, MacKay notes:

    If we imagine that scientists and engineers crack the problem of getting the DD reaction going, we have some very good news. There’s 33 g of deuterium in every ton of water, and the energy that would be released from fusing just one gram of deuterium is a mind-boggling 100 000 kWh. Bearing in mind that the mass of the oceans is 230 million tons per person, we can deduce that there’s enough deuterium to supply every person in a ten-fold increased world population with a power of 30 000 kWh per day (that’s more than 100 times the average American consumption) for 1 million years (figure 24.17).

    So, what are the numbers for pB11? How does the graph stack up?

    #10667
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    Thanks to @NeilBrainstrong for this reply:

    @focusfusion I just did a nifty little back of the envelope calculation concerning the aneutronic #fusion reaction p + 11B -> 3 4He + 8.7 MeV.

    In each ton of seawater, there are 4.4 g 11B. (Source: http://www.webelements.com/boron/geology.html)

    Of these, 81% are 11B.

    Mass of the World Ocean is 1.332 * 10^30 t. This corresponds to:
    1.332*10^30 t * (0.81 * 0.0044 kg/t) = 4.75 kg of 11B.

    Which again gives a number of 11B atoms of:
    4.75*10^27 kg / (11.01 * 1.66 * 10^-27 kg) = 2.6 * 10^53

    If we extract 10% of these (2.6 * 10^52) and each reaction gives an Energy amount of: 8.7 * 1.6*10^-19 J = 1.4 * 10^-18 J,
    and the energy is split between 10 billion people and distributed over 5 billion years (~1.6 * 10^17 s) – until the sun turns into a red giant – each person can use as much as:

    (2.6 * 10^52 * 1.4 * 10^-18 J) / (10^10 * 1.6*10^17 s) = 22.75 MW.

    This means, using the aneutronic boron reaction, everyone on earth (assuming 10 billion people) can use 22.75 MW individually until the earth is burned to cinders by the expanding sun.

    For comparison: Presently, in Germany the individual primary energy consumption is around 6000 W, in the US 11000 W and in the Arabic Emirates around 22000 W.

    And for Kardachev level calculation;

    @focusfusion This, by the way, would put us at a Kardachev Level of:

    1 + 0.1 * log10 [(22.75 MW * 10^10) / 10^16 W] = 1.13

    Presently, we are at about:

    1 + 0.1 * log10 [1.5 * 10^13 W / 10^16 W] = 0.71.

    #10668
    AvatarTulse
    Participant

    Are MacKay’s numbers for energy released, or [em]usable[/em] energy released? DD produces a lot of energy, but it’s primarily in the form of speeding up neutral particles, i.e., heat. Heat can of course be used to produce [em]usable[/em] energy, electricity, but a lot of it gets tossed out of cooling towers. The practical efficiency of aneutronic reactions like pB11 is greater than might appear when comparing the raw energy released from various reactions.

    #10670
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    Tulse wrote: Are MacKay’s numbers for energy released, or [em]usable[/em] energy released?

    Good question. Is he minding his Q’s?

    I think an important graphical indication for each energy source would include the maximum theoretical energy available in the source, compared to the amount we can extract from that supply – the effective Q.

    #10672

    Okay, here are my complete calculations – initially I got some figures wrong, so these are the correct results.

    The World Ocean has a mass of about 1.332*10^18 t.

    In each ton of ocean water, there are 4.4 g of Boron.

    This means that the total mass of Boron in the Ocean is about

    MB = 1.332*10^18 t * 0.0044 kg / t = 5.86 * 10^15 kg.

    81% of these are 11B:

    M11B = 0.81 * 5.86 * 10^15 kg = 4.75 * 10^15 kg.

    Which accounts to a number of 11B atoms of:

    n11B = 4.75 * 10^15 kg / (11.01 * 1.66*10^-27 kg) = 2.6 * 10^41
    (where 1.66*10-27 is the Atomic Mass unit, and 11.01 the Atomic mass of 11B).

    Let’s suppose we can extract 10% of these – this gives an amount of

    n11B_ex = 2.6 * 10^40.

    Now, each fusion reaction produces

    Ef = 8.7 MeV = 8.7 * 10^6 * 1.6 * 10^-19 J = 1.4 * 10^-12 J.

    Fusing all the n11B_ex atoms will give a total energy of:

    Etotal = Ef * n11B_ex = 3.64 * 10^28 J.

    Let’s divide this between 10 billion people and use it over 1000 years = 3.16 * 10^10 s. This gives an individually usable primary power of:

    Pind = Etotal / (10^10 * 1000 yrs) = 3.64 * 10^28 J / (10^10 * 3.16 * 10^10 s) = 115.2 MW.

    -> Individual power consumption by country on Wikipedia

    Using the Kardachev scale with Carl Sagan’s decimal refinement, the above power consumption puts us at:

    K = 1 + 0.1 * log10 [115.2 * 10^6 W * 10^10 / 10^16 W ] = 1.206.

    Today, we are at about K = 0.71.

    PS: If we use the energy on the level of the present-day USA (10381.2 W / person), the energy resource would last for:

    t_EnergyUSA = Etotal / (10^10 * 10381.2 J/s) = ~ 11 million years

    This more moderate consumption rate would of course be wiser, as burning it all up over 1000 yrs would cause the planet to overheat quickly. Naturally, this problem would not arise if a lot of power is not used on earth itself but for spacecraft propulsion.

    #10674
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    Well, we can’t use it all up for ourselves. We’ll have to hold back enough to be able to move the Earth to a more comfortable distance when the Sun starts misbehaving.

    Of course for current purposes being able to allocate a a couple of megawatts per person will do for the day-to-day basics for the forseeable future.

    #10675

    I think it might be easier to construct some generation spacecraft in order to migrate to some habitable exoplanet instead of moving the entire earth.

    In fact, I’m sure people will do this long before the sun burns out. Fusion propulsion for large interstellar rockets might be available as early as mid-22nd century. In a few millenia, a lot of exoplanets may have been colonized.

    #10987

    This thread along with many others discuss the potential of fusion. It is worth researching but I agree it cannot be counted on at this time to produce energy. There are several areas that require substantial engineering development. LPP is addressing a physics question about fusion energy. Issues with power supply lifetime, capacitor lifetime, electrode lifetime, “unexpected outcomes” and cost demonstration need to be completed. The back of the envelope calculations completed to will not convince a serious power distributor to buy this technology. The real concern is regulations governing the technology. My guess would be a fight between the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the EPA would take place. You have intense brems radiation from the pinch and electrodes so that has to be dealt with and regulated. Therefore worker safety and training has to be implemented. These are all problems with solutions, but time and money are required. The few million invested in LPP and other technologies is only scratching the surface of what is needed. Building a 3 GW themal power (1GW electrical) plant is nearly a $1B endeavor. I assure you that even if an FoFu system costs only 10% of that to get 1 GW electrical, engineers and regulators will not be satisfied until long term demos are completed under highly controlled circumstances.

    The simple answer is you cannot talk about the impact of fusion on the world energy problem in text books until you have demonstrated fusion gain. No one has done that yet. I like the optimism that permeates this site but it is important not to become zealous. Ask the cold fusion folks how well that worked out.

    #10988
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    Just a note: you seem to be churning over a variety of things that Lerner-hakase and company have already addressed either in their papers or on the forum… a sort of “best of” list of skeptic talking points.

    Nothing wrong with questions, of course, but you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that they’ve already been discussed and either do not seem to apply or are not show-stoppers.

    As for your view on what should and shouldn’t be discussed at this time… insofar as Focus Fusion is concerned it would be quite irresponsible not to speculate 🙂

    #10989

    zapkitty wrote: Just a note: you seem to be churning over a variety of things that Lerner-hakase and company have already addressed either in their papers or on the forum… a sort of “best of” list of skeptic talking points.

    That is my point. Lerner-Hakase have gone over them in paper. I have no problem with speculation and research. Optimism should be the norm for those working on any new technology. Great potential is the reason to take on new things. However, many research papers are not going to convince regulators. To a regulator, FoFu-1 is a new “thing” that they don’t understand. If they don’t understand something, they don’t let it operate. I’ve been there with them and it’s make you want to pull out your hair. I agree that no issue I mentioned is insurmountable, but it takes time, money and most importantly, data. Data on fusion systems with gain is in short supply at the moment.

    #10990
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    asymmertic_implosion wrote: That is my point. Lerner-Hakase have gone over them in paper. I have no problem with speculation and research. Optimism should be the norm for those working on any new technology. Great potential is the reason to take on new things. However, many research papers are not going to convince regulators.

    Regulators already have defined regulations for all aspects that an FF unit would entail.The simple fact that no radioactive fuels are involved and the compete absence of radioactive waste greatly simplifies life for all concerned.

    asymmertic_implosion wrote: To a regulator, FoFu-1 is a new “thing” that they don’t understand. If they don’t understand something, they don’t let it operate.

    They won’t understand an electrically-powered radiation source whose operational mode is “fully shielded at all times”? Sorry, but even the nuclear density gauge market has a rental segment now and [em]those[/em] are actually designed to emit radiation into the public space.

    Would FF units be regulated? Certainly… but they would be covered by existing regulations.

    #10991
    Avatarbenf
    Participant

    asymmertic_implosion – 08 November 2011 09:02 AM
    I agree that no issue I mentioned is insurmountable, but it takes time, money and most importantly, data. Data on fusion systems with gain is in short supply at the moment.

    I presume you’ve reviewed the monthly reports from LPP, found on the same page I directed you to before, or on their website. The reports over the years have shown the difficulties that are being faced as well as the progress made along the way. There is an array of diagnostic tools being employed to quantify and qualify the results. All this takes time, money and expertise to enable. The funding of the research is vital to keep receiving the data to help guide the way toward future improvements. It’s not only hard data that drives the future, it’s also our ability to make the project known and appreciated. This is a task that can be taken on by those of us with no technical background as well as from the scientific community.

    There have been many efforts described in these blogs, a lot of input with creative ideas from marketing to legislative to technical. This needs to continue for the ongoing quest for funding as well as convincing the public that this is a different animal from the mainstream power sources, which even has the possibility of uses beyond power generation, such as space exploration or diagnostic tools for metal fabrication and even homeland security. The efforts by the community of bloggers on this site isn’t over zealous and has paid off with increased funding, which has brought us more positive data. You have to start from somewhere. The beauty of the DPF concept is it’s relative simplicity compared to other designs. If it can be made to produce net energy in something close to it’s current form, it would be much easier to commercialize and to persuade regulators to accept than some of the other concepts. Perhaps it will require some other features as yet undiscovered to work, but we need to keep trying out ideas. It could something simple like employing sound waves, radio waves, microwaves or a sprinkling of boron nano particles (pixie dust!) to seed the plasmoid. But keeping it simple and attainable is an asset. These are just ideas from a non-technical person, who knows what you people from advanced scientific backgrounds can think up? Bring it on, make it work and then make it happen! In any case the world needs fusion…

    #10994

    benf wrote:

    asymmertic_implosion – 08 November 2011 09:02 AM
    I agree that no issue I mentioned is insurmountable, but it takes time, money and most importantly, data. Data on fusion systems with gain is in short supply at the moment.

    I presume you’ve reviewed the monthly reports from LPP, found on the same page I directed you to before, or on their website. The reports over the years have shown the difficulties that are being faced as well as the progress made along the way. There is an array of diagnostic tools being employed to quantify and qualify the results. All this takes time, money and expertise to enable. The funding of the research is vital to keep receiving the data to help guide the way toward future improvements. It’s not only hard data that drives the future, it’s also our ability to make the project known and appreciated. This is a task that can be taken on by those of us with no technical background as well as from the scientific community.

    I have reviewed the progress updates and some of the technical data. I appreciate you pointing me to the link. It changes nothing I’ve posted. FoFu-1 may be the best chance to produce fusion energy but it hasn’t yet. It might some time in 2012. Progress has been made. However, the D-D fusion yield is on par with other plasma focus devices at similar current levels. Despite the progress, it hasn’t done anything new in terms of the fusion output. This is not to say it won’t, but for people not aware of the state of art in plasma focus research, FoFu-1 just caught up. Now it has to go ahead of the other machines by leaps and bounds. It is my sincere hope that it will.

    I agree that marketing and PR are important but I suggest staying away from textbooks and regulators. FoFu-1 has a great deal to prove before either should be approached. The ‘fusion is ten years away’ claim is already trademarked by so called main stream fusion researchers. I advise staying away from that trap. It will not be warmly received by technical folks. Show fusion gain and people will mutter. Let someone else repeat your experiment and people will talk. Show you can do it day in and day out for a week, people will throw money at you. However, fusion gain is still the dream yet to be achieved. FoFu-1 has to produce roughly 57,000 J of fusion yield to breakeven. According to LPP’s last report, it had a fusion yield of 1 J or less. I remain optimistic that FoFu-1 can do better, but I’m not sold on it yet.

    My comment about being zealous was a warning, not a criticism. I think people should be optimistic. Hope is a good thing. Hope is a driving force behind science. However, you can’t go blindly into it. Skepticism is also a driving force of science. To challenge the old you first have to doubt it. When you doubt, you perform experiments in new and different ways that challenge the old. LPP is doing that now. However, they have not proven the old incorrect. The hater says they never will. The optimist says its only a matter of time. The skeptic says I don’t know yet. The zealot says… well read a cold fusion forum and it pretty much explains itself. I consider my self a skeptic. All I ask is show me the data before claiming fusion will change the world. I’ve heard it too many times before. 🙁

    #10999
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    asymmertic_implosion wrote:
    I agree that marketing and PR are important but I suggest staying away from textbooks…

    But I swear the textbooks followed me home on their own!

    More seriously, complying with your suggestion is gonna be difficult… Houghton-Mifflin keeps texting me asking for articles on aneutronic fusion’s influence on 16th century Ottoman Empire merchant ship designs…

    asymmertic_implosion wrote: … and regulators.

    Too late… FoFu-1 haz dun bin regulated 🙂

    asymmertic_implosion wrote: All I ask is show me the data before claiming fusion will change the world. I’ve heard it too many times before. 🙁

    We are saying that fusion power would change the world… and we are correct.

    We are saying that aneutronic fusion power would have an even greater impact than neutronic fusion… and we are correct.

    And we speculate on how a successful FF unit would affect the world… but we don’t claim that it’s anything other than speculation.

    Then again, it doesn’t take a genius to understand that inexpensive and sustainable aneutronic fusion power would change the world and the very nature of the FF unit will define the how some of those changes would occur.

    As for these particular threads: the fact is that a successful demonstration would have staggering implications for humanity. The magnitude of those implications is no reason not to discuss the potential effects of success.

    Indeed, it’s probably a good idea to start talking about these things early…

    #11000

    I’m sure it’s been regulated as a radiation source. I’m confident it doesn’t have a site license for a power plant, the environmental impact study is not complete, the public hearings haven’t taken place and neither the EPA nor NRC have validated the design of the reactor. All these steps have to be completed and they are costly, time intensive steps.

    Aneutronic fusion is the holy grail of fusion energy. Mr. Lerner is not the first nor will he be the last say it. Many scientists believe that if fusion is to be successful, aneutronic fusion is the only way. The idea has plenty of support. It is the people working on aneutronic fusion that generally turn scientists off. Optimism with little data doesn’t impress scientist. Sub-par performance with extreme optimism does not impress scientists. FoFu-1 just caught up with other machines around the world. To me, it seems premature to market technical folks about the wonders of aneutronic fusion. It’s a tired line modified from a Tom Cruise movie, but show me the data! 🙂 Scientists in the field are generally aware of LPP’s claims and work. People are also aware of Tri-Alpha and their work. If someone asked me for an objective assessment, Tri-Alpha had done a better job of convincing fellow scientists of their approach. They have data to support their claim and they only publish or present when they can back it up. Based upon Tri-Alpha results, new experiments are being discussed at NSTX at Princeton. Tri-Alpha has contributed to advancing our understanding of fusion in the general context. I’ve been asked by a number of people about LPP. An objective characterization of the their results to date is neutral at best. They have done what everyone else has done. They have repeated experiments and generally gotten the same results as others. The scaling law of I^5 is not new. Some have claimed scaling laws at large as I^5.7 with data to back it up. Mr Lerner has spent a great deal of time spreading the “good news” of aneutronic fusion and little time supporting it with hard data. The problems of FoFu-1 were encountered twenty years ago by people working at the 2 MA level in the plasma focus and the remedies are well published. The Z-machine at Sandia deals with currents at the 26 MA level so 2 MA is not a problem in modern pulse power even on a ~$2M budget. I hope in the next year that FoFu-1 will pass other machines and show some hints of plasmoid formation as Lerner’s theory suggests.

    The marketing is a good idea for non-technical folks and politicians. I think presenting the aneutronic fusion argument to the general public will help in the long term. My caution is how it is presented. If people want to rewrite a textbook go for it. This was just a warning that can be ignored.

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