In addition to the problems of containing the plasma in a fusion reactor,
there's the additional problem of the neutron damage to the pole pieces. I
recall a presentation some years ago where it was pointed out that pretty
well every atom in a (I believe, Nb) pole piece would be knocked out of its
position in a few years. So, these (now intensively radioactive) pole
pieces would have to be replaced. We see the same sort of neutron damage in
Zr-alloy CANDU pressure tubes: they actually stretch!
As a less-theoretical (non-theoretical) person, I gave up on fusion years
ago. Matter of fact, at a conference about a year ago, one speaker
mentioned that about the only pronouncement on the fusion is that it is
"forty years away from being viable." This has been the case for the last
fifty years. ;-)
I have not seen the US News & World Report article, so I cannot comment.
True, there are security problems with pretty well any human activity. I
can think of some very nasty things that could be done with a number of
human enterprises (but that's probably 'total depravity' manifesting
From: george murphy [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday October 03, 2001 7:08 PM
To: Vandergraaf, Chuck
Cc: 'George Hammond'; email@example.com
Subject: Re: USGS estimate of oil supply
"Vandergraaf, Chuck" wrote:
> Mr. Hammond,
> You write, "...A 757 at 500 mph could probably dive right through the
> containment building and explode the core all over the place causing the
> evacuation of millions and radioactive contamination for hundreds of
> Hitting 4 of them at once would have done
> a half a trillion dollars in damage."
> A debate on energy supply would benefit more if it were based on fact and
> not on assumptions and preconceived ideas. Unless you can show
> that a 757 @ 500 mph can penetrate a concrete containment enclosure around
> nuclear reactor, your statement is little more than scare mongering and
> that's the last thing we need, especially in this time of crisis. CANDUs
> and PWRs have concrete enclosures, not flimsy metal structures like that
> surrounding the RBMK reactors at Chornobyl. Could a 747, 757, or 767
> penetrate a concrete shell around a PWR or CANDU? I don't know but I aim
> find out.
> Fusion reactors are no solution to our energy problems. Even after
> billions of dollars into research on fusion, there is little to show for.
> Wishing for fusion reactors will not materialize them, no matter how tight
> we close our eyes and wish. In addition, contrary to popular opinion,
> fusion reactors generate lots of radioactive waste.
> If no fission reactors, then what? "Curse the darkness?"
FWIW US News & World Report had an article on security & safety
with power reactors in its 17 September issue - done before the 11 Sept
attacks. There are problems, though not of an apocalyptic scale.
I used to be very enthusiastic about fusion, but then I'm a
We need to get a fusion reactor that actually works before we start
fusion as a solution.
George L. Murphy
"The Science-Theology Interface"
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