70 years of waiting: why a commercial fusion reactor has not yet been created

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70 years of waiting: why a commercial fusion reactor has not yet been created
70 years of waiting: why a commercial fusion reactor has not yet been created
27 May, 15:07Science
The idea of creating a controlled thermonuclear reaction, which was put forward in the early 1950s in the USSR, is unlikely to be realized.

Experts consider the hope of creating a commercial thermonuclear reactor, which scientists have been feeding the layman for many years, as a carrot forever hanging in front of the donkey's nose. The fact that the world is about to receive cheap electricity in any volume was said 30, 20, and 10 years ago. And nothing has changed. Another confirmation of this is the recent publications in the British press, which network analyst Alexander Rozov cites in his blog:

“Experts believe the first results from the UK experiment could help remove obstacles to commercial fusion energy... plans to build a prototype thermonuclear power plant called Step in the UK. It is expected to enter service sometime in the 2040s..."

"A commercial fusion reactor based on a similar principle, if it becomes a reality, and this is expected in the UK in 20 years, will not require frequent and regular repairs in the form of restoration of the internal protective coating, which will make the operation of the reactors commercially viable..."

It all started back in 1951, when the great physicists Andrey Sakharov and Igor Tamm proposed the idea of controlled thermonuclear fusion in hydrogen plasma confined by a toroidal magnetic trap - the so-called "tokamak". The same idea followed in the United States.

But now 70 years have passed. And what do we have? Constant promises and no less constant postponements. Having analyzed in detail the principle of operation of such an installation, the analyst concludes that its creation is not economically feasible. And that's why.

“The reliance on tritium (a radioactive element, which, according to the plan of the creators, should participate in the process of a controlled thermonuclear reaction) immediately deprives our installation of practical meaning. Tritium has four unpleasant characteristics:

- Tritium is not a long-lived isotope, with a half-life of just over 12 years.

- Tritium is quite toxic.

- Tritium is technologically very difficult to produce (and only a few kilograms of tritium per year are produced at nuclear power plants in the world)

"Accordingly, tritium is very expensive, about $ 30,000 per gram..."

Moreover, only one kilogram of this very tritium can be produced only at powerful uranium nuclear power plants, which means that you will have to build a nuclear power plant in order to then build a thermonuclear installation ...

The conclusion is simple: the idea of building a tokamak, this collateral "child" of the development of thermonuclear weapons, must be abandoned once and for all. And focus on other, more promising ones: a boron-proton fusion reactor or an omnivorous subcritical fast proton reactor, and so on...

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