Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Fusion News

Two thing on the ongoing mess that is ITER, and a new item:
  • According to a Nomiuri Shimbun article, nameless "government experts" don't expect usable fusion energy for 50 years. Yeah, and I bet they spend most of that time arguing over where the damn reactor should be sited...
  • Thanks to the FIRE Place for news that Congress has blocked ITER spending (PDF) until somebody can figure out whose ox is going to be gored in the process. The problem seems to be that the U.S. still funds plasma research, but apparently ITER was assumed to come out of that budget. Hilarity ensues.
    The House action revives the possibility that the United States could repeat its 1997 decision to leave ITER, a project it helped launch 2 decades ago and then rejoined in 2003. "It will be important for us to be part of it," says Stephen Dean of Fusion Power Associates in Gaithersburg, Maryland, but not at the expense of domestic work. And will U.S. scientists utilize ITER if their government fails to help build it? "[S]omehow or another, we'll participate," Dean predicts.
  • A Japanese official says ITER is unlikely to move forward sans an agreement with Japan, though this is at odds with earlier statements by France saying they'd be willing to go it alone if Japan doesn't back down.
  • Sandia researchers have created a gun that can fire a small plate to 72,000 mph in less than a second. This is about half again faster than the previous record for the Z Machine, 21 km/s (vs. 34 km/s currently). Such a gun could ultimately provide enough energy to cause fusion in its target.