Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fusion Gets a New "Pinch"

New Energy and Fuel looks at a new "pinch" approach to fusion, from MIT and Columbia, called LDX -- levitated dipole experiment.
The experiment confirms the seeming counter-intuitive prediction that inside the device’s magnetic chamber, random turbulence causes the plasma to become more densely concentrated – crucial step to getting atoms to fuse together – instead of becoming more spread out, as usually happens during turbulence. MIT is using the term “pinch effect” to describe the observation, a term we’ve heard before from other fusion developers.

...The team is saying say that if the turbulence-induced density enhancement exhibited by the LDX could be scaled up to larger devices, it might enable them to recreate the conditions necessary to sustain fusion reactions, and thus may point the way toward abundant and sustainable production of fusion energy.

... _NewEnergyandFuel

Read more at the link above, and follow the links to the original sources.

It sounds as if the MIT and Columbia researchers are several decades away from useful fusion, and are strenuously fishing for research grants. If so, they are chasing ITER, which is likely to be a losing proposition in an atmosphere of shrinking budgets worldwide.

If the small fusion projects such as Bussard IEC and Focus Fusion do not pan out, it may be well into the second half of this century before the larger scale mainstream fusion approaches begin to show real promise. Such a timeline would strain the ability of regular crude oil to support transportation. But of course, by then, advanced methods of CTL, GTL, BTL, and other longer range fuel production methods will be productive. Also by then, advanced fission should have broken the barriers placed by faux-environmentalists -- making possible an ever growing fleet of electric vehicles. By 2050, utility scale electric storage should be available to provide dispatchable power from renewable energy sources such as solar.

For wind energy to provide a substantial part of electric power, it will need a revolutionary new approach -- one that probably no wind power designers have even dreamed as of yet.



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