HYPE is a four letter word in more ways than one. And the HYPE that the mainstream is applying to the latest experiment by the Lawrence Livermore National Lab should make everyone suspicious. Here’s one of today’s pre-announcement offerings …
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... s-sun.html
Is this the dawn of UNLIMITED clean energy? California scientists make fusion power breakthrough after using world's biggest laser to replicate reaction that powers the sun - which could spell the end of fossil fuels
California scientists may have discovered a source of unlimited clean energy by recreating the process of nuclear fusion which powers the sun.
Let’s be clear from the start. Causing fusion with lasers is NOT what the sun does.
Researchers at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in Livermore were able to spark a fusion reaction that briefly sustained itself ... snip ... The experiment was performed in August, but reported for the first time earlier this month. Similar tests have been performed before, but this was the first one that generated more energy than was used to create the experiment - meaning scientists could now harness nuclear fusion as an energy source.
That right there is another LIE. This test did not produce more energy than was used to create the experiment. There were all sorts of energy loses in creating the laser beams and none of those loses were accounted for in their hype. This fact was pointed out in the article I posted yesterday.
Now, concerning the energy that actually was produced, the article correctly states that the average home (in the US) consumes about 108 megajoules per day of electricity. Ignoring all energy loses, that would be enough to power a one or two bedroom apartment, so to keep that ONE apartment supplied with electricity over a day … ignoring all energy losses in system and assuming the preliminary estimate of 0.4 megajoule excess energy, they would need about 270 such laser shots a day to power one small apartment, again assuming no energy losses in the production and distribution of that energy. And in the last article I quoted one expert saying LLNL MIGHT be able to get off ONE shot a day … from a $3.5 billion dollar facility.
And they’re claiming this “couldn’t be more profound for fusion power”? LOL! What a JOKE! A very expensive one ... at YOUR expensive. But that money sure is buying a nice lifestyle for all the *researchers* involved. And continuing that is the real goal of these people.
Now here’s the official announcement from LLNL later in the day (https://www.llnl.gov/news/national-igni ... n-ignition
They said that this *breakthrough* “will pave the way for advancements in national defense and the future of clean power.” They said the experiment achieved “scientific energy breakeven, meaning it produced more energy from fusion than the laser energy used to drive it.” Then they boasted that this “feat will provide unprecedented capability to support NNSA’s Stockpile Stewardship Program and will provide invaluable insights into the prospects of clean fusion energy, which would be a game-changer for efforts to achieve President Biden’s goal of a net-zero carbon economy.”
What a collection of hyperboles, lies, half truths and outright nonsense. This feat isn’t going to make one bit of difference in achieving commercial electrical production through fusion because this is not the way it will actually be done, if it’s done anytime soon at all. And that means it won’t make one bit of difference to the net-zero carbon economy goal either, which is itself unwise nonsense.
The truth is that LLNL is desperate to find some excuse to keep funding LLNL now that the Biden (Obama) administration is slowly doing away with nuclear weapons entirely. The truth is that the Biden Administration is desperate to find any *good news* it can hype to distract people from the true state of the country and their intentions for us all.
The only difference from all the pre-announcement announcements is that they say the shot produced an excess of 1.1 mega joules … almost enough to boil 3 kettles of water. And it took them 60 years (that’s right, 60 YEARS) and uncounted billions to do it. And a facility “the size of a sport stadium”! And as always, the goal of this hype is to beg for more money … because they have mortgages to pay and mouths to feed. They say “we must double down and accelerate the research to explore new pathways for the clean, limitless energy that fusion promises.” GARBAGE. Save your money folks. Tell them no. Here’s a far more realistic article from today, post announcement …
https://nypost.com/2022/12/13/scientist ... ried-away/
Scientists have made a breakthrough in fusion — but don’t get carried away
I’m going to go out on a limb with a year-end prediction. The old joke in the physics community is still true: Fusion is always 50 years away.
… snip …
Some news outlets saw this as “a massive step in a decades-long quest to unleash an infinite source of clean energy that could help end dependence on fossil fuels.” Not so fast.
While the “net energy” achievement is big for scientists, it’s not a “massive step” for power engineers. Why? We need to account for the grid energy required for powering those lasers. Doing so more than wipes out the net gain of 20%. Each unit of laser energy put into the fuel pellet gobbled 200 units of grid energy. A lot of work needs to be done.
Not least, materials scientists and manufacturing engineers will have to come up with breakthroughs for fabricating the fusion fuel pellets, millions of which will be needed per year per reactor. Right now, each single jewel-like fuel pellet is hand-crafted and costs about $1 million. Odds are we solve that challenge, eventually. And far better lasers are already feasible and will be built, eventually.
I say don't count on that either because they aren't going to do the first unless they plan to build laser powered fusion power plants, and I haven't heard them say that. In fact, note that even LLNL in their announcement was careful to only say that this current experiment will "provide invaluable insights into the prospects of clean fusion energy." Even they know that laser powered commercial fusion is a fantasy.
The author correctly sums up the problems with this sort of hype from researchers and decision makers ...
The hype about energy revolutions is all characterized by three fallacies that distort thinking about energy:
First is the magic wand fallacy wherein policymakers and pundits believe the invention of a new energy machine will change everything and do so practically overnight.In the real world, it takes a lot of engineering and time to convert new physics into useful machines at society scales. From the first steam engine to useful trains took 50 years, and from the first internal combustion engine to useful cars, 50 years. From the first photovoltaic cell, it took 40 years to useful ones, and from the first nuclear fission to useful commercial nuclear power plants, also about 40 years.[/b}
Second is the helicopter fallacy, wherein we find there’s never one technology that solves all problems in any given domain, whether flying, farming or producing power. The invention of the helicopter inspired claims it would revolutionize car and air travel. One would no more use a helicopter to cross the Atlantic than use a nuclear reactor to run a train, or photovoltaic systems to run a country.
Finally, there’s the moonshot fallacy, a trope used for every aspirational goal. But the global energy challenge is not the same as putting a dozen humans on the moon, it’s the equivalent of putting all of humanity on the moon. In no small irony, humanity today still gets roughly 300% more energy from burning wood than from either solar and wind combined, or from nuclear fission. The world gets over 80% of its energy from burning hydrocarbons. Odds are that’s where we’ll see more useful revolutions in energy tech in the foreseeable future.
Just saying ...