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RE: [cdn-nucl-l] U.S. Should Rejoin Revised Fusion Energy Project
Hi Rod, Jerry,
No 'false impression' that fusion runs on hydrogen has ever been evident in
my experience and I would suggest that the reference to hydrogen as the fuel
was a simplification made by the New York Times in their article for the
simple reason that the average public is simply not aware of the differences
between isotopes and relative abundances - mirroring what an article on
fission reactors might say about it's fuel being simply 'uranium' and not
Uranium 235 / Plutonium 239 - U235 itself being an isotope with far less
abundance (0.71%) than the major natural component U238 (99.3%). Tritium,
itself not natural, can be derived from lithium (see my last message), a
technology which will be demonstrated in ITER.
As for pure figures, though, remember that even though D and T are the
primary fuels in a fusion power plant, the amount needed is far less than
the scale required for any fission or fossil fueled plant. In my first
fusion graduate course, a question asked "how much water would be required
to fuel a 1000 MWe DD fusion power plant in 1 year?", DD fusion being a much
less desirable form of fusion from a power plant perspective due to a much
lower reaction rate profile, but avoiding the need for T. The answer is
about 15,000 cubic metres of water, of which about 2 cubic metres (1 part in
7000) of heavy water would be extracted, and the deuterium contained within
it extracted via simple electrolysis (the math for this takes about a page -
I'm happy to pass it on on request). To compare, a Darlington-type reactor
contains 312 cubic metres of 99.95% D2O by weight in the calandria, and
another 280 cubic metres in the primary coolant loops. That's a lotta years
of fusion fuel sitting there :) ITER in its 20 year lifetime, for example,
will consume about 12-15 kilograms each of deuterium and tritium.
In fact, guys, if you can find a single web page on fusion which does
mislead the reader by saying that fusion requires only hydrogen and not
deuterium and tritium, I'll contact the administrator of that page myself
and ask them to correct it.
[mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.McMaster.CA] On Behalf Of
Sent: Monday, December 23, 2002 5:05 AM
Subject: Re: [cdn-nucl-l] U.S. Should Rejoin Revised Fusion Energy Project
Why would we want to spend 2-3 times the current fission research budget on
participating in a scientific effort billed as a future energy solution when
there is not even a chance of producing self-sustaining power during a ten
When are fusion advocates going to correct the false impression that it runs
on common hydrogen and not tritium and deuterium, two isotopes with far less
abundance than hydrogen?
I hate being a nay sayer, but fusion is a pie in the sky diversion from the
very real problem of solving our dependence on oil.
Has anyone else noticed the threat to world prosperity that is represented
a strike in Venezuela at the same time as war is threatening in Iraq and the
people in Nigeria are increasingly demanding changes in their treatment by
companies like Chevron?
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