Jason Lindquist (jlindquist) wrote,
Jason Lindquist

Energy and Idiots

An article on CNN talks about the National Ignition Facility, a project to produce a laser system to jump-start a controlled nuclear fusion reaction. Currently, the only way to start a fusion reaction is with a low-yield fission event, which gives you an uncontrolled fireball that burns out in a couple of minutes, destroying everything in the vicinity. Not very useful for ComEd's purposes.

All the article talks about is the NIF's utility in weapons testing. Gee whiz, if we can light some deuterium in a lab, then we can study the Bomb without actually setting up us one. It's not surprising that this is why Congress has kept funding it.

Goddammit, fuck weapons testing. This is about POWER GENERATION. God forbid we should actually figure out how to build a fusion-based power plant, we might find a way out of the impending petroleum crisis. Besides, if this is useful for verification of the nuclear stockpile arsenal, it's only useful for the second half of the problem. It still doesn't address the viability of the weapons' primary stage--the fission triggers.

Fusion power is a long way off, if it ever happens. In the meantime, there are means to generate power through fission which are not nuclear weapons proliferation concerns, and they also solve the current problem with power plant waste fuel. The Integrated Fast Reactor was the key, along with its associated fuel reprocessing technology. Pyroprocessing gets you uranium you can put right back into an existing commercial reactor, plutonium that can fuel a fast reactor (but is next to useless in making a bomb,) and wastes that are dangerous for only 500 years, making the Yucca Flats waste repository attractive and viable again. (See also here, which discusses "leasing" of fuel to non-nuclear-weapon nations.)

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