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Topic Title: Starting an IET Engineering Peer Review of the ITER Fusion Project
Topic Summary: What are the the engineering objectives of Fusion research at ITER?
Created On: 13 December 2012 01:35 PM
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 19 December 2012 07:04 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
Joined: 05 September 2004

A rush by Fusion for Energy (F4C) to get more contracts signed before the design is finalised seems to be ongoing...

http://www.world-nuclear-news....ts_signed_191212a.html

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James Arathoon
 19 December 2012 07:14 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1033
Joined: 05 September 2004

Apparently the ITER collaboration directed by a small band of elite scientists is so good that we should use it as a template for [ruining] CERN.

http://www.physicstoday.org/da...ould_the_us_join_cern


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James Arathoon
 20 December 2012 12:01 PM
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jarathoon

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An engineer. I will say that again just in case you missed it. An engineer, Professor Jeffery Funk of the Division of Engineering and Technology Management at the National University of Singapore has put up a slide show entitled

Fusion: When Might It Become Economically Feasible?

http://www.slideshare.net/Funk...ally-feasible#btnNext

He quotes Robert L. Hirsch who directed the American fusion energy programme in the 1970's:

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes....-narrowing-the-field/

He does not answer this question with a date, but gives engineering reasons why fusion developed on the current technological trajectory (via ITER) may never be economically competitive.

At last an academic engineer seems able to comment on the engineering feasibility of fusion energy!

Unfortunately I haven't found any recent evidence of British academic engineers actually critiquing our fusion energy engineering strategy in public. If there is one that I've missed then please let me know.

Perhaps ITER is not an engineering project at all. Perhaps most of the British academic engineers believe in the ITER fairy tales now. I haven't entered a engineering department recently, except the one at Imperial College, so I am not really in touch with what is being taught now; it could be fairy tales for all I know.

It is not enough for British academic engineers to shrug their shoulders and say to me "Don't let the ***** Grind You Down".

But then again I could be wrong - this could catch on as the latest form of reality tv experience for intellectuals! Engineering academics content to stay out of the game and watch independent thinkers, who wish to question the status quo, be ground down by the powerful elites for public entertainment instead.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 21 December 2012 09:24 PM
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jarathoon

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Research Councils UK Energy Programme
ww.rcuk.ac.uk/energy

In a document entitled

"A 20-year Vision for the UK Contribution to Fusion as an Energy Source"

http://www.stfc.ac.uk/resources/pdf/visiondocument.pdf

On page 9 are listed the disadvantages of the UK not being ivolved in the development of fusion as an energy source:

"5 DISADVANTAGES AND RISKS OF THE UK NOT BEING INVOLVED IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF FUSION AS AN ENERGY SOURCE
The major risks and disadvantages of the UK not being involved were identified as:

Loss of skills, expertise and capability in the UK
Loss of scientific leadership and credibility
The UK would need to buy in the technology at a later stage
It would not be possible to exploit ITER even though the UK would still be contributing to EURATOM
Damage to reputation
Potential loss of confidence in fusion (MCF and ICF) internationally if UK pulls out
UK will be left behind once NIF ignition occurs.

The UK experience in nuclear fission provides a valuable lesson where, having decreased investment in the 1990s, we are now struggling to provide the skills and capability required to build and operate the next generation of nuclear power stations - the same thing could happen with nuclear fusion."

When analysed properly these disadvantages turn into advantages:

- Avoiding the waste of skills, expertise and capability in the UK; more people to work on other more productive projects
- Loss of scientific leadership and credibility (This is good as this is an engineering project anyway. It is about time the scientific leadership of this project were shown up for having no credibility.)
- The UK would need to buy in the technology at a later stage (Thats ok we wouldn't bother it would be much too expensive to be a practical way of generating energy; money saved here then which we can spend on other options)
- It would not be possible to exploit ITER even though the UK would still be contributing to EURATOM (the UK scientists and engineers who really want to waste their time and effort on ITER are free to work in France under EU rules)
- Damage to reputation (Depends on your point of view of course; I doubt many engineers would worry about the damage to their reputations from leaving the ITER programme and building a more cost effective way of generating low carbon energy)
- Potential loss of confidence in fusion (MCF and ICF) internationally if UK pulls out (This is an advantage as it would save all the other participants lotts of money as well)
- UK will be left behind once NIF ignition occurs. (Last I hear ITER wasn't designing a form of rocket propulsion)

The expert group [first degree education]

Prof Keith Burnett (Chair) - [Physicist]
Vice-Chancellor University of Sheffield
(Member of STFC Council)

Philip Sharman - [Mining Engineering]
Director Technology External Affairs of Alstom Power

John Loughhead - [Mechanical Engineering]
Executive Director UK Energy Research Centre

Prof John Chapman - [Physicist]
Dean of Physical Sciences University of Glasgow

Prof Carlos Alejaldre - [Electrophysics]
Deputy Director General ITER
(Member of Fusion Advisory Board;
Member of HiPER Executive Board)

Prof Raymond Fonck - [Experimental Physicist]
University of Wisconsin-Madison
(Member of Fusion Advisory Board)

Prof Fritz Wagner - [Physicist]
Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics
(Member of Fusion Advisory Board; Chair MAST Programme Advisory Committee)

Prof Francis Kovacs - [?]
Associate Director Cadarache, CEA France
(Member HiPER Executive Board)

Dr Christopher Keane - [Physics and Engineering]
Assistant Principal Associate Director and Director, National Ignition Facility (NIF) User Office
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

On balance the physicists seem to out-number the engineers; so perhaps I am wrong and this is a physics programme with just an illusory relationship to engineering. Hence why no independent British academic engineers feel able to comment on it - it's outside their field of expertise.

However if this indeed turned out to be an engineering project I would have to call them all dollar kWh idiots, instead of dime kWh engineers.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 21 December 2012 09:33 PM
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jarathoon

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I've written to Professor Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor University of Sheffield to clarify the issue of whther or not the ITER programme is indeed an engineering programme.

After all he is in the best place to know being Chairman of the Research Councils UK Expert Group.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 23 December 2012 08:52 PM
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jarathoon

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The dialogue of a Christmas fairy story...

Frankenstein The Elite Scientist: I predict that we will need twice as much electricity in 2050 as we use today. We need more power, Egor, More Power.

Egor the Engineer: Yes Master. I can put some solar panels on the roof, Master, or a wind turbine in the gardens, or we can generate some electricity from our waste.

Frankenstein: No! No! No! Egor. The world needs a new source of power, unrivalled by any other so far created. I need to build a Sun here on earth, so big, bright and powerful , that everyone will come to worship the name of Frankenstein, its creator.

Egor: A son. Master. You want to build a son. Shouldn't you be talking to your wife about this not me.

Frankenstein: No Egor, you stupid engineer. I don't want a biological son. I want to recreate a replica of 'The Sun' here on earth. I want to build the biggest temple to power the world has ever seen.

Egor: But Master, that will be very very expensive, and no one will be able to afford to buy your power.

Frankenstein: Oh stupid Egor, don't you see, my power will be priceless. Do you think anyone will remember my name if I built a new source of power that was small enough and cheap enough for everyone to use. No this new Sun on earth will represent the sort of power that ordinary people will never be able to appreciate directly for themselves. None of them will understand how this power is created and how it will be maintained here on earth; they will only be able to worship its greatness from afar.

Egor: Sorry, Master, I wasn't thinking straight.

Frankenstein: I've decided I want to build a Tokamak.

Egor: But a Tokamak has to be built big and strong, otherwise the plasma instabilities will rip it apart.

Frankenstein: Of course Egor, that is just what I want. The bigger and stronger the better, I want it to last longer than the Pyramids, as a monument to the greatness of its creator, Frankenstein.

Egor: I am sorry Master, but it will need superconducting magnets, to generate themagnetic field necessary for the plasma containment.

Frankenstein: Oh Egor, the sheer brilliance of my design is revealing itself. This power will be worshiped as divine; it will arise from the coldest temperatures in the universe, set against the hottest. A truly awe inspiring creation.

Egor: But master I can only make it work for a few seconds at a time, because the materials...

Frankenstein: STOP! Egor. Stop there. Your negativity is getting the better of you again. This idea is too great for anything to stop it now. What else will we need? I want to know more about the brilliance of my creation.

Egor: I have worked out some tolerances, and what nuts and bolts we will need.

Frankenstein: Egor, I am not interested in such trifles. Tell me about the bigger things, the things that the pilgrims will remember when they visit.

Egor: Sorry Master, there is lots for me to do, I wasn't thinking straight again. Oh Master, I've just thought, we will need a control room, and a start button...

Frankenstein: Idiot Egor, not just 'a' control room, we need the biggest of big mission control rooms, with lots of screens, like the one NASA used for the moon launches; and a really big count down display to plasma ignition. I despair of you Egor. Why can't you appreciate the wondrous beauty of my ideas? You Engineers have no imagination.

Egor: Sorry Master. Oh Master, there is just one thing though. Will we still be alive to finish it?


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James Arathoon
 26 December 2012 01:31 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
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Originally posted by: jarathoon
Frankenstein The Elite Scientist: I predict that we will need twice as much electricity in 2050 as we use today. We need more power, Egor, More Power.

Maybe we should come up with some ideas to reduce this need!
Egor the Engineer: Yes Master. I can put some solar panels on the roof, Master, or a wind turbine in the gardens, or we can generate some electricity from our waste.

When the sun goes in and the wind stops and so we cannot cook anymore to eat etc., and the waste runs out.....well then we turn to our fairy story for a magic supply of energy.
Frankenstein: No! No! No! Egor. The world needs a new source of power, unrivalled by any other so far created. I need to build a Sun here on earth, so big, bright and powerful , that everyone will come to worship the name of Frankenstein, its creator.

Well actually they will not see the sun because it will be contained within a building etc. Is there something wrong with people wanting to create something and then receive credit for it?
Egor: But Master, that will be very very expensive, and no one will be able to afford to buy your power.

When cars were first invented very few people could afford them and the same goes for many other things. We have had a recent financial crisis and as I understand things billions have been wiped off Greece's debt and billions have been lost elsewhere bla bla bla., and yet we are still here and doing reasonably ok. So when you suggest no one will be able to afford to buy the power you are making a prediction without any sensible data to support it and which then weakens your own case to be taken seriously.
Frankenstein: Oh stupid Egor, don't you see, my power will be priceless. Do you think anyone will remember my name if I built a new source of power that was small enough and cheap enough for everyone to use. No this new Sun on earth will represent the sort of power that ordinary people will never be able to appreciate directly for themselves. None of them will understand how this power is created and how it will be maintained here on earth; they will only be able to worship its greatness from afar.

I have yet to see people worshiping nuclear power, for example, but have seen much worshipping of 'God's'. There has been and still is a whole lot of money spent on worshiping the latter and so is worshipping something really that bad?
Frankenstein: Of course Egor, that is just what I want. The bigger and stronger the better, I want it to last longer than the Pyramids, as a monument to the greatness of its creator, Frankenstein.

Nuclear Fusion is a many 1000's of people project and is not the project of just one person/creator.
Frankenstein: Oh Egor, the sheer brilliance of my design is revealing itself. This power will be worshiped as divine; it will arise from the coldest temperatures in the universe, set against the hottest. A truly awe inspiring creation.

God is seen as divine and is worshipped and yet there is no scientific evidence to prove 'he' exists.....do you have an issue with seeing something as divine and worshipping it? If not why then use that in your argument?
Egor: But master I can only make it work for a few seconds at a time, because the materials...

Think about the humble lightbulb....until it finally worked.
Frankenstein: STOP! Egor. Stop there. Your negativity is getting the better of you again. This idea is too great for anything to stop it now. What else will we need? I want to know more about the brilliance of my creation.

The idea is going on because a lot of people believe in it and the resources are available to fund it.
Frankenstein: Idiot Egor, not just 'a' control room, we need the biggest of big mission control rooms, with lots of screens, like the one NASA used for the moon launches; and a really big count down display to plasma ignition. I despair of you Egor. Why can't you appreciate the wondrous beauty of my ideas? You Engineers have no imagination.

Do the control rooms, and in fact the whole of the NASA site, get in your way during your daily life? Are they causing you or me any particular hardship to our way of life?
Egor: Sorry Master. Oh Master, there is just one thing though. Will we still be alive to finish it?

The 'will we still be alive to finish it?' answers itself.

Technology which is developed for solving issues on big projects is often put to great use in other areas of human development and so it is not always easy to know the true cost of benefit in one single moment....these things are measured over a lifetime and the human one is not over yet. The Apollo space program did not directly provide that much benefit to me, after all I did not get to walk on the moon and have that pleasure. But there have been many indirect benefits to me from the spin offs from the technological advances made during that program and also those which have followed after and could only do so because of those first and second steps which we taken. In the long distance future it is said that humans will have to leave planet Earth to survive and at which time the start of the things which made that ultimately possible may just be able to be traced back to the decision to 'go land on the moon'. The value in what we do today is not measured in only tommorrow but rather it is measured over all of the tommorrows.

Regards.

PS: Fairy stories have given a great deal of pleasure to a great number of people over a great many years....so what is their true value?
 08 January 2013 08:17 PM
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jarathoon

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Joined: 05 September 2004

Westonpa,

You are talking Christmas nonsense like me... Engineers have to attack the problems they want to solve head on with a clear set of realistic objectives.

How many prototype light bulbs were manufactured before the design was perfected? Of the order of hundreds I think. Just imagine how long one hundred versions of ITER would take to design and build (never mind the cost). Most of you arguments are supurious nonsense, which is unusual for you. Generally new products are expensive and in order to be successful have to find an initial market amoungst early adopters. Commodity products don't have that luxury.

If you want to listen to someone else talking nonsense, this TED talk from Steven Cowley: "Fusion is energy's future" hits the mark better than most.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6BLFdBfgfU

Now Simon Cowley is a professor at Imperial College and is chief executive officer of UKAEA and so he should know what he is talking about surely!

In this 2009 talk he says that Fusion energy will work out roughly the same as the cost of energy from other sources:

Roughly 3 to 9 cents per KWh (estimated from his graphic)

I notice that this data isn't sourced from a peered reviewed engineering journal. One or more hundred times that might be closer to the current realistic estimate.

James Arathoon



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James Arathoon
 08 January 2013 08:22 PM
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jarathoon

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Got Steven Cowley's name right on the first attempt, and wrong on the second! I don't know where "Simon" came from, sorry for that.





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James Arathoon
 21 January 2013 06:00 PM
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jarathoon

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Joined: 05 September 2004

Inauguration of ITER Headquarters on 17/01/2013

Link 1

"Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger travelled to Cadarache (France) on 17 January 2013 for the inauguration of the new headquarters building with French Minister for Higher Education and Research Geneviève Fioraso. Besides visiting the building and having bilateral meetings with Director-General Motojima and Minister Fioraso, Oettinger addressed elected officials and government representatives, staff from the ITER Organization, the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy and Agence ITER France.

Oettinger stated: "At this time when the urgency to transform our energy system has been overshadowed by the financial crisis it is important that we keep steadfast in funding projects like ITER. This project is at the forefront of energy technology research in the world, giving a long term view towards the decarbonisation of our energy supply. ITER, one of the world's biggest scientific collaborations, has a key role to play in establishing fusion as a sustainable energy source. Moreover, it benefits the economy of the countries, especially through the high tech SMEs sector. With ITER being located on EU territory we play a key role in global energy technology research now and in the future."
"


The Full Speech

Link 2

"ITER plays an essential role on the route to fusion as a sustainable energy source."


Note it is described as a "sustainable energy source" rather than a cheap or affordable energy source.

At the end of his speech Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger says


"Europe, as the main contributor - providing around 45% of the whole investment - has a particular responsibility to make ITER a success.

In this role, the Commission has proposed at the last ITER Council of November 2012, to hold a Ministerial meeting, a high-level conference, to allow all ITER Parties to reconfirm - several years after the first ministerial meeting in Paris in 2006 - their political commitment.

It should also provide a platform for high-level discussions and decisions on the progress and performance of the project and on initiatives to facilitate its implementation.

The Ministerial should take place in autumn this year in this wonderful building in Cadarache."


So we will have to wait till the Autumn for a political review of ITER. This gives me a few more months to find a UK academic engineer willing say anything at all on the ITER programme and its capability for generating affordable electicity for the masses.

The commissioner says nothing on costs or delivery dates other than

"ITER, one of the world's biggest scientific collaborations, has a key role to play in establishing fusion as a sustainable energy source.

This is in line with our EU's intention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 up to 95% by 2050.

To achieve this ambitious reduction, significant investments are required in research, development and demonstration of efficient safe and reliable low carbon energy technologies."


As we all know there is absolutely no chance of affordable and reliable Tokamak Fusion power being ready for 2050. So why the commissioner tries to pretend that ITER is in any way relevant to the 2050 target I have no idea.

I very much support the UK remaining a strong and active part of the EU. We will just swap one set of difficult problems, for another more horrible set of problems if we leave the EU.

However the European political system must some how become much more responsive to the actual and real needs of its constituent peoples. There must be reform to stop money being wasted on useless vanity projects like ITER.

James Arathoon



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James Arathoon
 22 January 2013 03:01 PM
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jarathoon

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This is what ITER has to say about the commissioners visit

http://www.iter.org/newsline/253/1465

"In answer to a question on her government's [France's] nuclear policy and the part fusion could play in the "energy mix" of the coming decades, Minister Fioraso stressed the "fantastic progress that ITER and fusion represent." With fusion, she said, "we can access a decarbonized energy source, one that does not depend on rare raw material and does not produce high-level, long-life radioactive waste. It would be folly to refuse it!"
"
What she means by "folly" is a foolish act.

However the architectural definition of "folly" is as a decorative building suggesting some other purpose than for which it is built or a building so extravagantly wasteful of resources that it transcends everything that has come before it. Both these architectual definitions seem apt descriptions of the ITER building to me.

So it appears we have to live with a "folly" by accepting it or become guilty of "folly" by refusing it. Hobson's choice.

James Arathoon




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James Arathoon
 24 January 2013 01:34 PM
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jarathoon

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The E&T has published an article on Fusion Power

http://eandt.theiet.org/magazi.../01/how-to-energy.cfm

One thing not discussed is ITER's requirement for more cash and how it is to be funded.

It appears that in order to avoid renegociating the ITER agreement with international partners, European politicians plan to fund the cost overruns via a new complemetary research programme funded solely by European tax payers.

http://www.europolitics.info/s...tus-art347417-14.html

"The complementary research programme for ITER would be funded by national contributions based on a rate applied to the gross national income (GNI) of every member state. These contributions would be paid into the general budget of the European Union and allocated to the programme."

Questions for Engineering Peer Review

Will all budgetry increases at ITER from now on fall on the sholders of European TAX payers?

Why don't international parners play their full part in funding the cost overruns on the project?

Apparently "Euratom is not able to withdraw one-sidedly from the ITER agreement."

Why can't Europe withdraw from the project unilaterally, when they are allowed the option of unilaterally funding cost overruns in 5 yearly funding rounds?

What other engineering projects won't get funding because ITER is now requiring more cash from complementary research funding programmes?

Will engineers be able to independently peer review the complemetary engineering research funding proposals and compare them against other requests for money?

James Arathooon




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James Arathoon
 25 January 2013 06:58 PM
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jarathoon

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"CCFE welcomes European fusion roadmap"

"Head of CCFE Professor Steve Cowley has called the European Fusion Development Agreement's new roadmap document "the path to a fusion future." "

http://www.ccfe.ac.uk/news_detail.aspx?id=200

"A PDF of 'Fusion Electricity - A roadmap to the realisation of fusion energy' can be downloaded at the EFDA website:"

http://www.efda.org/wpcms/wp-c...G12.356-web.pdf?91a98e

page 15 "The realisation of fusion energy has to face a number of challenges:"

Challenge 7 is utterly meaningless

"In order to have a rapid market penetration, fusion will have to demonstrate the potential for competitive cost of electricity. Although this is not a primary goal for DEMO, the perspective of economic electricity production from fusion has to be set as a target, e.g. minimising the DEMO capital costs. Building on the experience of ITER, design solutions demonstrating a reliable plant with a high availability, serving as a credible data basis for commercial energy production, will have to be pursued. Socioeconomic research activities on fusion energy (SERF) will also help in maintaining a long-term perspective and optimising the strategies for market penetration of fusion."

Reread the sentence below

"In order to have a rapid market penetration, fusion will have to demonstrate the potential for competitive cost of electricity."

I wonder whether there is any engineer in the UK, Europe, Asia etc who would write such a idiotic thing in a report and expect to keep their job.

The problem in this roadmap is that DEMO is due to start construction in 2030 before ITER has delivered much in the way of high Q results and long lasting plasma pulses.

DEMO will have to be built using new materials so new material test facilities will have to be built outside of the main ITER programme well before 2030. More money needed from Europe for complementary research then. What is the point of ITER if we can't develop the new materials for DEMO?

It is obvious from an engineering point of view that they have their research in completely the wrong order.

When people listen to me they end up saving money. However the people at ITER won't listen to me because I am not charging them £1000 per day for my advice, I am giving to them for free.

I once was assigned to a chemical plant and within two weeks and a few simple software changes batch production cycle times were halved, and considerable amounts of money saved (7 figures annually). People had been working on improving the process for many months before I arrived and had achieved very little. These people were specialised and highly competent, but didn't have the patience to study all the empirical data and keep an open mind while spending lots of time observing what was actually going on. I achieved so much so quickly that people had to invent ways of pretending that the improvements occured over a longer period of time to help save face.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 02 March 2013 01:29 PM
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jarathoon

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I noted some time ago that there don't seem to be any British academic engineers who feel able to comment on the timescales and future likely costs of fusion power delivered using the ITER-DEMO roadmap.

There is now another visit to the Culham Site (Where the Jet and MAST fusion experiments are based). Having been on one of these tours I would very much recommend it to other engineers (industrial and academic), who wish to independently assess the likelyhood of our developing economically competitive fusion power prior to 2050 using the current set of plans.

http://www.theiet.org/events/l...3905.cfm?nxtId=169177

I have in the past made the comment that there has been no attempt to spawn out neutron source technologies from the work done at Culham.

This is not correct as there is a newish startup (Tokamak Solutions Ltd, incorporated in 2009) based at the Culham site trying to develop fusion based neutron sources.

http://www.tokamaksolutions.co.uk/

However the Polywell fusion device, if it can be made to work may be a better way of building a compact fusion neutron source more cheaply.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywell

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
IET » Energy » Starting an IET Engineering Peer Review of the ITER Fusion Project

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