Homepage Forums Reframing fusion, managing expectations Fusion Spending in Perspective

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  • #951
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    America spends ~ $400 million a year on fusion research (wait, is that just on MFE? And another 300 on ICF?). A bit more if you add in some private spending.

    Does this seem like too much? Perhaps we should check in with the Harley Davidson perspectivometer:

    This HD ad sums it up nicely.

    The copy notes:

    Last year americans spent
    $2 billion on life coaches,
    $1.4 billion on botox,
    $500 million on self improvement tapes,
    $180 million on male pedicures.
    That’s one way to go.
    Maybe there’s a better one.
    [cue $7999 HD bike]

    Clearly there’s money in this country. We just need a better ad campaign to get it spent on fusion. An industry-wide initiative, like the “Got Milk” campaign.

    #8287
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    These Harley ads are also cool. Help you see your self in the machine.

    I’ve been wanting to break down the dpf into parts for some time now. Didn’t think to turn it into a portrait. Portrait of the future.

    #8293
    AvatarAeronaut
    Member

    The current issue of Forbes reports that close to a hundred billion dollars worth of investments moved from money market funds to government bonds over the last year or so. A portrait of the future could be investing in the fusion infrastructure to leverage existing positions in electric car infrastructure and smart grid supply companies.

    #8299
    AvatarIvy Matt
    Participant

    I wonder how much money America spent on aeronautical research in 1903.

    #8381
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Ivy Matt wrote: I wonder how much money America spent on aeronautical research in 1903.

    You’d have to ask the Wright bothers! :cheese:

    But the implication is fair ball. I regard Eric’s effort and push to bring DPF to a productive level to be of at least equal importance.

    Since the development of fission power (and weaponry) was so tightly tied to government and institutional research and spending, the world has kind of gotten used to the assumption that that’s the natural order of things. Similarly with space access. But the latter is starting to break out into private hands and development (SpaceX, Scaled Composites, Galactic, etc.). They are all doing things in ways governments don’t and wouldn’t (the bureaucratic review processes would derail them long before they got far, I think). LPP’s success would/will leave a lot of ‘crats and Big Science types gobsmacked, for sure.

    #8382
    AvatarBrian H
    Member

    Aeronaut wrote: The current issue of Forbes reports that close to a hundred billion dollars worth of investments moved from money market funds to government bonds over the last year or so. …

    Just as an aside, that’s awful news. Pulling money out of the private markets and putting it into the public purse reduces its multiplier effectiveness by at least ½.

    #8392
    AvatarAeronaut
    Member

    Brian H wrote:

    The current issue of Forbes reports that close to a hundred billion dollars worth of investments moved from money market funds to government bonds over the last year or so. …

    Just as an aside, that’s awful news. Pulling money out of the private markets and putting it into the public purse reduces its multiplier effectiveness by at least ½.

    I can’t help but thinking of that much flowing power as heat or steam moving around a system without doing useful work. :grrr:

    #8396
    AvatarIvy Matt
    Participant

    Well, I suppose I might as well attempt to answer my own question, although I don’t know if it’s possible to give a definitive answer. The two most well-known US contenders were the Wright Brothers and Samuel Pierpont Langley. Langley received a $50,000 grant from the War Department in 1898 to build a full-scale, piloted, powered aircraft. According to Wikipedia, he also received $20,000 from the Smithsonian Institution (of which he was the Secretary), but I only see the War Department grant mentioned in other sources. I don’t know exactly where that money went over the next five years. Some of it undoubtedly went into producing a quarter-scale powered model aircraft which was first tested in 1901. However, the lion’s share of the money must have gone into the full-scale aircraft, which was test-flown in October and December of 1903. Both tests failed. The second failure was highly publicized, and resulted in much ridicule. Langley understandably did not dare to ask for more funds to continue his work.

    According to Wikipedia, the Wright brothers spent less than a thousand dollars on their Flyer I. This information is credited to To Conquer The Air: The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight by James Tobin. The Flyer I would have been their main expense in 1903, although they had no doubt incurred similar expenses since they began experimenting with aircraft in 1899.

    Total US revenue was $494,300,000 in 1898 and $662,000,000 in 1903. If my math is correct, Langley’s War Department grant was about one hundredth of a percent of 1898 revenue, even less of 1903 revenue, and even less considering it was spread out over five years. Of course, it’s possible the War Department gave other grants related to aeronautics (such as ballooning) during the same period. Total US revenue in 2010 is $2,165,120,000,000. If the US spent $400,000,000 on fusion research in 2010, that would be about two hundredths of a percent of 2010 revenue. Of that, $124,000,000 went towards ITER, about six thousandths of a percent of 2010 revenue. In comparison, the total cost of each F-22 was about $339,000,000 per aircraft with the total program cost included, or $138,000,000 for each new aircraft manufactured, ignoring total program cost.

    In other words, Rezwan’s point, that spending on fusion research is relatively miniscule, even if you include the big, expensive projects, is quite true. However, my counterpoint is that spending on fusion research is most likely to remain miniscule until after some exciting advance, such as “scientific break-even”, is announced or leaks out.

    On the other hand, how many people can say they helped fund the Wright brothers before their first successful powered flight?

    #8397
    AvatarAeronaut
    Member

    Langley blew a bunch of his capital on engine development before he had working lift or control systems. The Wright brothers built their theory and experiential base using gliders. This may cross into the fusion arena as the debate about electromagnets vs self-induced magnetic containment fields.

    #8400
    Avatarvansig
    Member

    Aeronaut wrote: Langley blew a bunch of his capital on engine development before he had working lift or control systems. The Wright brothers built their theory and experiential base using gliders. This may cross into the fusion arena as the debate about electromagnets vs self-induced magnetic containment fields.

    it’ll be about efficient power conversion technology. specifically,
    how do you collect and transform 100 to 200 kJ of electromagnetic energy in a few nanoseconds?

    the equipment starts to look just like a small particle accelerator coil,
    eg: wound on a torus, with wide, race-track turns of thin sheets, arranged radially.

    #8402
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    Ivy Matt wrote:

    In other words, Rezwan’s point, that spending on fusion research is relatively miniscule, even if you include the big, expensive projects, is quite true. However, my counterpoint is that spending on fusion research is most likely to remain miniscule until after some exciting advance, such as “scientific break-even”, is announced or leaks out.

    NIF is going for ignition in 2 years. LPP has been going for proof of concept within a several month time span – contingent on the switches get consistently operational at full power. Rumors are that the secretive TriAlpha might even announce something in a year. Per the folks at NIF, their (Inshallah) Ignition announcement would have that “exciting advance” effect you speak of, and raise all fusion boats.

    On the other hand, how many people can say they helped fund the Wright brothers before their first successful powered flight?

    Yes! We want to find the people who are ahead of the curve. The ones that will deserve the bragging rights, among other things.

    #8403
    AvatarRezwan
    Member

    Aeronaut wrote: I can’t help but thinking of that much flowing power as heat or steam moving around a system without doing useful work. :grrr:

    The electric currency/ monetary currency connection seems like a great way to explain both economics and energy systems. An ambitious project. I hope one day to see a crisp, definitive film/animation that nails it.

    #8447
    Avatarvansig
    Member

    Rezwan wrote:
    Yes! We want to find the people who are ahead of the curve. The ones that will deserve the bragging rights, among other things.

    As a boy, i was inspired by science fiction that told stories of colonizing space, and seeking the stars.
    Stephen Hawking was quoted as saying that humanity must do this, to assure the survival of our species.

    The world needs fusion, now.

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