Reply to post: Re: Fusion vs. fission

Hotter than the Sun: JET – Earth’s biggest fusion reactor, in Culham

hammarbtyp Silver badge

Re: Fusion vs. fission

"If we'd spent one tenth of the amount of money that goes into fusion research, we'd have small, intrinsically safe fission reactors all up and running years ago. A bit more and we'd have radionuclide junk-eating reactors to take care of the long-lived fission products."

Even if you are right (and i have doubts about you figures ), we still have the issue of the need to get and refine uranium for the reactor. That fuel has a dual purpose and remains a claer and present danger

Furthermore, fusion is not "clean" - the huge neutron flux makes the walls of the containment chamber intensely radioactive and they degrade, needing replacement. So there is still the problem of disposing of long-lived radionuclides . . .

No, but the waste is confined to the vessel itself and relatively easy to deal with. Most of the issues with fission reactors come from an escape of nuclear material into the atmosphere after some accident, which cannot happen in fusion since it is inherently unstable. Not only that but the half life of a fusion reactor is about 1/2 that of a fission one, and that itself could be reduced further through careful choice of material

Right back where we started - and in the meantime we continue to use our dwindling stock of fossil fuels that wreck the ozone layer, pollute our lungs and could be used far more profitably as chemical feedstock than just being burned. And in efforts to reduce this we pollute the countryside with acres of windfarms whose generators require scarce rare-earths, the mining and refining of which generate even more pollution.

True, US spent £1Billion on Nuclear research while oil subsidies cost $400 bill (by the way rare earths are not that rare and uranium mining has its own issues)

Fusion is a well understood process (though there aren't many nuclear engineers left) and can be made safer than a fossil-fuel plant. Ask the US Navy (not the Russians!) how many of their nuclear-powered vessels have had accidents or containment issues. They operate 100 or so reactors and logged over 5,400 reactor years of accident-free operation while traveling over 130 million miles, enough to circle the earth 3,200 times.

True the US navy has a fantastic record with fission reactors, but these are relatively small self contained devices. Scaling them up increases the risks and dangers. Not that I am anti nuclear, but it is risky to extrapolate. The biggest issue is the fuel and how it is obtained and refined. Fusion uses tritium and deuterium, which is easy to store handle and has little weapon value (Ok I know H bombs use it too, but it is useless without the initiator)

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019