Plans that require an exaFLOP AI supercomputer first are broken nuclear fusion plans

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Princeton University will use the exaFLOP Aurora supercomputer starting in 2021 to help solve the problems and complexities associated with the ITER tokomak project.

Regular Nextbigfuture reader Goatguy notes:

we have yet to invent a general AI that can even pass the Turing Test, let alone figure out how to make FUSION, upon which the top 100,000 minds in Physics from around the world have pitted themselves for the last 50+ years, to no avail.

Think about that!!! 5,000,000 (or more) seriously talented “GENIUS” level intellect-years of investment and we haven’t cracked “cheap, ready, potent, ubiquitous and limitless” fusion power. Seriously: its not tho’ we’ven’t tried. Five million genius-years is an awful lot of horsepower.

By comparison, the entire APOLLO space program had an investment of less than 700,000 GENIUS years of intellectual investment. Some would say, critiquing the armies of pocket-protector bearing munchkins that endlessly filled out gub’mint forms, reports, and documentation records, that we had less than 100,000 genius-years of true investment. (My Uncle … the “really damned smart one” figured deep in NASA and the Moonshot program. He had a LOT to say regarding the average intellect, the average proficiency of mushroom employed by the Big N.)

But FIVE MILLION genius-intellect years of progress, slow that it very well has been, is somehow going to be upended and reinvented .. correctly .. by a bunch of AI ‘bots that HAVE YET TO BE CODED?

Nextbigfuture notes that if your 30+ year technological development project hinges upon yet to be developing new more powerful superconducting magnets and an exaFLOP supercomputer that were NOT part of the original project plan then the plan was broken decades earlier. There was promise in the original Tokomak research but the research has made the project more and more terrible.

The expected cost of ITER has risen from US$5 billion to US$20 billion, and the timeline for operation at full power was moved from the original estimate of 2016 to 2027.

The 14 MeV neutrons produced by the fusion reactions will damage the materials from which the reactor is built. Research is in progress to determine whether and how reactor walls can be designed to last long enough to make a commercial power station economically viable in the presence of the intense neutron bombardment.

There are dozens of other options for commercial nuclear fusion. We need to retreat to consider whether other technological paths to nuclear fusion or whether advanced molten salt fission are the better answers to breakthrough energy.

The planned start of deuterium–tritium operation is now 2035.

ITER will not generate commercial power.
It will have have the follow DEMO pilot reactors project to prove out fusion at commercial scale then those will be followed by commercial nuclear fusion tokomaks.

Those reactors are currently projected to be football or baseball stadium sized machines.


Don’t miss the latest future news

Subscribe and get a FREE Ebook