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Re: starship-design: Re: debate

In a message dated 12/8/97 3:34:34 PM, wharton@physics.ucla.edu wrote:

>Re: debate
>Kelly writes:
>>>>No we have had runing fusion reactions that produced more power then they
>>>>took to run, and have other systms that could work efficently at those
>>>Huh?  Give me a hard reference!  This would be very exciting news!
>>Why?  It hardly made the evening news at the time, and isn't that big of a
>>milestone.  Its not like they were comercially usable systems, or even
>>adaptible to such things.  Even if they were, they certainly wern't
>>to commercial operation in our power grids at competative prices.  Even the
>>DOE is grdgingly admiting their tours fusion systems, even if capable of
>>producing power competativly, could not be used in any power market now
>I think you're referring to the recent JET results, which didn't reach the 
>break-even point... quite.  They broke 50%, I think.  Of course, you could 
>never make a workable power plant from a device that didn't reach fusion 
>ignition (a self-sustaining reaction), even if it does break even.

No I remember a older anocement a couple of years ago, and one in the '80's
from a comercial test system.

>As for your statement about no fusion system ever being competitive, you're 
>forgetting that there will be another oil shock one day, and one other day 
>coal is going to be a lot more expensive than it is now.  True, fusion may 
>never be cheaper than a fission breeder reactor, but it still may be 
>competitive if current sentiments about fission don't change.

The oil companies do expect practical fusion to really crater their market in
50 years or so, but since they've identofied at least 2 centuries of oil
(assuming no market losses to other sources, and a continuation of world
consuption growth rates), a future oil shock is not likely to help push the

Currently commercial analysis in this country is that fussion is possible
given comercial development (for a decade or so) of identified designs (none
of which are being research by our gov), but its not nessisary to meet any
projected needs, and is virtually certain to insite the same political
reaction as fission systems, most especially by ecology groups.  Given this
they figure they leave it on the shelf until the political climate changes, or
some projected need is identified.