Our Future With Fusion
Article By Pramodh Kumar Reddy, MBA (Power), B.Tech (EE), UPES, Dehradun
The simple flip of a switch brings Light, Heat, Power, with capturing fullest of a river, controlling a Nuclear Reaction or transforming the light of the sun into electricity is anything but simple.
“Electricity it makes us masters of our environment, yet most of us take it for granted”.
Deprived of it we get a sense of what life was like more than a hundred and fifty year ago.
In the middle of the nineteenth century a day’s work was just that, labour that necessarily took place during sun light hours. Work was manual mostly unaided by machines.
Over the next century and a half we took a world that had dominated us and transformed us into this, an electrified environment which responds to our every need, we control our climate, process information, and in fact each and every thing in the world with power that flows hundreds of miles across an interconnected transmission grid that encompasses the entire country.
“Electric current the flow of charged electrons intimately influences how we live and yet only a few actually understands how it works”.
One of the biggest challenges we face today is Energy. This conventional energy a mist that comes from burning fossil fuels in fact about 85% of the global energy consumed comes from fossil fuel which is oil, coal, gas. We know that burning these fossil fuels produces large volumes of CO2 which is being released into atmosphere damaging the environment. And we know that use of carbon oxide runs significantly waste the man-made climate change.
Ultimately it comes down how seriously we see the threat of man-made climate change, if we do see it is serious threat as many of us do then we must look a significant reductions in CO2 emissions and that means a big change to our energy system and that could be on the supply side or demand side.
So to respond to Global Warming either we need an energy supply that has no carbon release or we need to find waste of use less energy.
And as we always try to lift billions of people out of poverty in the developing world. We using energy faster and faster and those resources are going away. “And the way the energy is made in the future is not from resource rather it’s from Knowledge”.
They make our lives comfortable, rewarding and secure; they are the magical machines that have brought us to the edge of a new world of limitless possibilities, but it is a world filled with dangerous, daemons of our own creation.
Yes, Nuclear power promises to the world, a supply of cheap and limitless energy. But where was the mankind made mistake,
1942 December 6th – The first self-sustaining Nuclear Chain reaction occurs at the University of Chicago.
1945 July 16th – The US Army Manhattan Engineer District tests the first Atomic Bomb at Alamogordo, New Mexico under code name Manhattan Project.
1946 August 6th – The atomic bomb named Little Boy is dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. After Three days another bomb named Fat Man is dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, Japan surrenders on August 15th, thus ending World War II.
1946 August 1st – The Atomic Energy Act of 1946 creates the Atomic Energy Commission(AEC) to control Nuclear Energy development and explore peaceful uses of Nuclear Energy in India.
1951 December 20th – The first electric power from experimental breeder reactor I using nuclear energy lighting four bulbs took place at Arco, Idaho.
1979 March 28th – An accident at 3 mile island in Pennsylvania sends thousands flare.
1986 April 26th – An explosion on full meltdown at Chernobyl in Ukraine causes panic across Europe.
Nuclear Power Plants around the world were supposed to be getting safer, but,
2011 March 11th – Fukushima nuclear facility is first rocks by an earthquake, then a massive tsunami. Japan witnessed a Radiation Nightmare on this day.
Although people who lived in nearby these giant towers when the accidents happens only half remains living there. Those who stayed here expressed confidence that society has learned well the lessons from the nuclear accidents, those who have moved away from this place remind us that we must forever be unguarden for the mistakes and arrogance that can bring about disaster.
This power of nuclear fission is witnessed by whole world. And that same power is now being harnessed for peaceful purposes but always remains potentially dangerous.
And now it’s time for Fusioning the reactors.
India is going to put seven new fission reactors in four of its nuclear power stations, even china is building new power stations, everybody is because they know that that’s one show way to do carbon free energy.
Fusion the perfect energy source is one that doesn’t take out much space, has a virtually inexhaustible supply, is safe, doesn’t out any carbon into the atmosphere, radioactive wastes. But fusion is very hard to do. We have been trying for fifty years.
The sun produces enough energy every second to power our planet for a million years. The suns energy is generated by nuclear fusion. But we don’t need to travel a hundred and ninety million kilometers to harness this power, it can be generated here on earth. Fusion is important because it’s something that’s going to give us really long term sustainable energy source.
And yes, a Fusion power plant would produce no deadly radioactive wastes; it can’t meltdown and uses a clean and abundance source of fuel.
Today all nuclear power plants split atoms in nuclear fission reactions. The main drawbacks are a lack of good options for the disposal of spent fuel and the danger of accidents that release radioactive material in to the air or ground water.
But in this fusion, atoms are split a part they are fused together, it’s a process that uses no radioactive plutonium or uranium, the fuel is hydrogen.
To get energy from fusion, gas from mixture hydrogen, deuterium and tritium – is heated to very high temperatures (100 million degrees Celsius), 10 times hotter than the suns core. At this extreme temperature atoms turn into plasma. The plasma atoms collide and fuse. Energy is released when the positively charged plasma ions overcomes their neutral repulsive forces. One way to achieve these conditions is a method called ‘magnetic confinement’ – controlling the hot gas (known as a plasma) usingstrong magnets. And the technologically advanced device for this is the ‘tokamak’, a Russian word for a ring-shaped magnetic chamber.It’s a million times efficient than today’s nuclear power plants and trillion times efficient than fossil fuels. The technology is inherently safe.
A typical Fusion Power Plant with 1500 megawatts of installed capacity would consume nearly 600 grams of tritium and 400 grams of deuterium each day. A very few input energy gives enormous output which makes the world to be a power surplus.
By 2050, we can expect a rise in global population from six to nine billion and Inorder to have better living standards an increase in two-to-threefold energy consumption is estimated.
No any technology can fulfill this demand. Each has got strengths besides weaknesses, and a combination of power sources will be needed to deal the challenges of environmental protection,energy security, and sustainable development. Energy supply options in future may includefossil fuels, solar, renewables, Nuclear Fission and Fusion.
The challenge now is to prove that fusion have the potential to work on a power plant scale.
And here is how the world’s Fusion Research is planned to achieve Fusion power –
ITER(International Thermo Nuclear Experimental Reactor) which is being developed in south of France, will be serving as a 500 megawatts tokamak. Its participants include India, Japan, South Korea, United States of America, China and European Union. A 20 year operation period and its first plasma expected to be in 2020.
IFMIF(International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility) will be operating along with ITER and this is a particle accelerator device that will test fusion power station materials against neutron damage and irradiation. Their operation in European or Japanese projects is expected to be started in 2017.
DEMO, once the test process completed in ITER and IFMIF it’s now time for results. It will serve as demonstration power plant for injecting electricity to the grid, expected to be in commercial use in 2030.
Fusions intrinsic property allows us to design the power plants that are inherently safe with low environmental impact. Extensive studies over the last decade proved that no internally-generated accident could lead to evacuate public staying nearby the plantand alsoit will not be a burden for future generations about the waste generated.
Because fusion is fuelled by hydrogen there are few security risks. But the research is still the experimental stage. Scientists estimates it will be another 30 years before their will be a commercial fusion power plants.
The planets, increasing population and expanding energy demands may well depend on tomorrow’s FUSION.
PRAMODH KUMAR REDDY
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