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... and the latest news is that our involvement is back up in the air due to Brexit. Despite the fact that JET have been developing the materials for ITER. I was lucky enough to get a tour round JET during a rebuild so I was able to stick my head into the reactor. Not many people can say they've stuck their head into a reactor and lived to tell the tale.
 

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There's already a pretty good nuclear fusion reactor providing more power than we could possibly use. It's a safe distance away from populated areas. It's called the sun.
... so long as you don't need fusion power at night time. Or when a bit too cloudy/rainy. Or late winter. Or in the winter, at night when it's raining and cold.

So, the Sun turns out to be a perfect fusion reactor when it's sunny and warm, which is precisely when we need extra electricity to power our lighting and heating. Oh ... errrr ... :unsure:
 

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Construction on the building to house the reactor was completed last November after nine years of labor, setting the scene for tokamak experiments that will host streams of plasma 10 times thicker than those in action today.

So, getting built quickly then?

Agreed in the 80's, designed in the 90's, the construction work began 9 years ago and they are just getting around to constructing the reactor itself, which will be turned on in ... ? , and after running that for a while this will give results to then build a prototype reactor that will take ? years to agree, then design, then construct, then build the reactor, then run, and after getting results out of that we might have a power station agreed, then designed, then constructed, then the reactor built, then .... won't the planet be dead from CO2 by then?
 

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Here's the official start of construction, including tour, ceremony and Q&A session (3 hour video):-

 

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C'mon Donald - fusion power is only 10 years away.

Always has been, always will be.
I think it might well be only 10 years away.

.... but that means it won't look like ITER!

It is not due to power up DT operation until 2040, DEMO is pushed back to 2060/70, so that means you won't get a power station out of DEMO results until >2100.
 

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How intense would a fusion reaction need to be to trigger a chain reaction and engulf the planet?

 

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How intense would a fusion reaction need to be to trigger a chain reaction and engulf the planet?

It's not possible, and you can know it's not possible because we are constantly bombarded by high energy cosmic rays consisting of all sorts of 'very fusible' and very fast atoms, many many orders of magnitude higher that what comes out of man made nuclear reactions. So, if it was possible, these would 'spark' such a chain reaction already.

Same goes for making world-destroying black holes at CERN.

The reactivity versus density of potential reactants is so low that it is never, ever going to happen exothermally.

The same applies to the combustion of nitrogen and oxygen. I mean, we do actually have a combustible atmosphere, and at the right temperatures and pressures (inside a working diesel engine, for example!) nitrogen will burn with oxygen. But you know that doesn't happen either, we have lightning storms all the time that do precisely that, generate copious nitrous oxides (you can actually smell them, in fact mostly post-cursor ozone) and those reactions don't release untold hell on Earth.

Our atmosphere protects and nurtures us in a cradle of life. We'd better treat it nicely, eh?

On the subject of lightning and nuclear fusion, there is both theoretical and measurable amounts of neutrons formed in lightning strikes. It is difficult to fully assess if this is from deuterium fusion in the water vapour of the air (you are unlikely to find water vapour carry deuterium at higher altitudes, only at ground level perhaps .. deuterium is isotopically concentrated in sea water and there is little of it in rain) or from spallation of molecule in the air from highly accelerated ion collisions.
 
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