Guest: Umair Irfan | Science Reporter | Vox
Category: ⚡ Energy | Nuclear Fusion
Original: 32 min | Time Saved: 30 min
Podcast’s Essential Bites:
[0:58] UI: "The National Ignition Facility (NIF), this Laboratory in California, [announced] that they finally managed to get more energy out of a fusion reaction than they put into it. This is a huge achievement for them. This is the main threshold that they've been trying to reach for decades."
[2:12] UI: "In order to make fusion viable as an energy source, we need to be able to get a lot more energy out there than they put in. But the fact that they were able to do this at all, [...] is a huge step forward. It means that they're on the right track. And from here on out, it's basically an engineering problem that eventually they will be able to [...] in theory, close this gap, and maybe one day we'll see fusion energy."
[3:39] NH: "Fusion power almost seems too good to be true. One kilogram of fusion fuel has the same potential power as 10 million kilograms of coal. And that same kilogram of fusion fuel could power 10,000 homes for a full year, all without the same pollution or greenhouse gasses that come from fossil fuel. [...] Fusion has this almost limitless potential, because it's essentially like bottling up a star."
[6:51] UI: "Fusion is [...] taking tiny atoms like hydrogen, the smallest chemical element, [...] and you're smashing those tiny atoms together so hard that they stick. And then it forms a new atom, helium. [...] The new atom [...] actually has slightly less mass than you would expect. The whole is actually less than the sum of its parts by a tiny amount. And that's because matter is being converted into pure energy."
[8:28] UI: "[Fusion energy is] probably one of the cleanest energy sources we've ever come up with. We're talking about no carbon dioxide, no particulates, no nitrogen oxides, no sulfur oxides. And there aren't tons of this radioactive nuclear waste you get with conventional nuclear reactors. So on almost every front, this is cleaner and better than anything else we've tried."
[23:07] UI: "A lot of fusion scientists would argue that we have never funded fusion to the extent that it deserves to be funded. The US Department of Energy did a study back in the 70s, looking at the different pathways towards achieving energy positive fusion. And they looked at a scenario for a rapid all out approach, for a middle tier approach, and for a slow long term approach. And then they also looked at this fusion never scenario where we only have a trickle of funding going into fusion, that is never enough to actually achieve anything. And to date we've been funding well below that [fusion never] level."
Announcement: "National Ignition Facility achieves fusion ignition"