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Kumar Thangudu

I work on EngineerSF helping companies scale through non-obvious methods.

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Why Fusion is Irrelevant and Unlikely

I'm writing here from Spain.  TLDR: Mankind won't spend hundreds of billions for a ~10%-20% gain in specific energy over a fission plant, removing radioactive isotopes from lithium reactor jackets is onerous, and dispatch & transmission of energy always have costs.  A lot of friends ask me "Will fusion save us?"  The answer is quite a simple no, it's a marginally improved exorbitantly priced improvement of Plutonium/Uranium based fission plants.  Fusion, if successful, only gives you a 6% to 13% gain in specific energy over a fission plant.  Which means, even after what is likely tens of billions spent on research, the Fusion plant is only slightly smaller than the fission plant.  Some people may tell you that we can rely on Deuterium-Tritium based fusion plants. ["The ''closed DT loop'' fuelling cycle of ITER. Stored deuterium and tritium are introduced into the vacuum chamber where only a small percentage of the fuel is consumed. The plasma exhaust is removed and processed through an isotope separation system that extracts out the fusion fuels for reinjection into the fuelling cycle." - Source: ITER] There's some flaws with that thinking.  The feedstock mechanism for Tritium is having a burning fission plant that relies on Plutonium and Uranium.  I remember reading somewhere that the USA has produced under 400 kilograms of Tritium....in its entire lifetime. (I'm rusty so my number here might be off by a few hundred kilograms)  Fusion: Tritium costs ~$35,000 per a gram.  Fission: Uranium costs $8/gram  If we increase tritium production capacity, the price might drop, but it is very unlikely to drop by ~4300x.  Designing Tritium breeder reactors is extremely hard and requires a vast amount of over-engineering in comparison to building a fission plant.  In the designs I've seen thrown around, you end up generating tritium and helium inside the lithium reactor cover. [Every few years, some crackhead is peddling fusion to me.] Have you ever tried removing Hydrogen isotopes from the lithium blanket? Have you ever engineered a neuron multiplier into a lithium blanket?  Am I missing something here? I'll leave this post scratching my head and also declaring that Fusion might be worthy of random research dollars but there's lower hanging fruits in terms fo energy returns on investment. I'll also add that even if the cost of electricity generation goes to zero, there's always a cost to transmission and dispatch of energy. Those costs are rising with the squeeze on transformer infrastructure caused by EV(Electric vehicle) and renewables proliferation. [Image] In conclusion, anytime someone tells you about fusion and how groundbreaking it will be, please approach it with great skepticism as it relates the feedstock pricing, reactor jacket engineering, and transmission of energy. 
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