Daniel L. Jassby is retired researcher from the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab and he wrote an article about Voodoo Fusion for the American Physical Society. It has 15 citations of Nextbigfuture articles to track the slippage in promised dates for nuclear fusion projects.
Daniel noted that Nextbigfuture tracks all of the date claims and progress on nuclear fusion companies and nuclear fusion projects. Nextbigfuture also tracks molten salt companies and other nuclear projects.
* All Nuclear fusion projects have missed deadlines and are very far from generating commercial power unless there are multiple breakthroughs
* IF there was a money scarcity problem and we had to fund only advanced nuclear energy projects that would not less delays and technical risks, then I would choose to fund the molten salt nuclear fission projects.
* IF venture funds or startups wish to have a due diligence report created, then I can research and create a lengthy and thorough analysis of the viability of the technical and business plans of a nuclear project or other technology projects. Due diligence reports vary in cost based on the scope of the diligence.
* If money was scarce and we wanted a nuclear reactor design where smaller versions have safely generated power for decades and should be safer and should generate energy at nearly 1 cent per kwh (although as heat) then the deep pool nuclear reactors would be the choice. China is developing the first of kinds units for deep pool reactors and this would replace the usage of a lot of coal for heating cities. A complete conversion to heat generation from deep pool reactors could displace 500 million tons of coal per year.
* Money is not scarce. Venture capital and equity capital can take a gamble on many different energy projects.
* Government money is wasted in many ways. The $4 trillion of federal US funds each year could deliver the same services for half of the budget or less. It is less of a societal problem that PHDs and engineers work on multi-billion projects that will fail and have useless objectives, than the fact that smart people are missing the opportunity to advance real solutions.
* Daniel Jassby used my links and articles to track nuclear fusion projects. I did the work that he wanted and needed for his article. He then chose to insult me personally. He did not just thank me for spending the time over 14 years to constantly track nuclear fusion and all major energy projects. He chose to insult me because I did not filter or include project metrics with each of my nuclear fusion articles.
Metrics for Tracking Nuclear Fusion
Nextbigfuture has noted the comparison of different nuclear fusion projects with different metrics in the past. If Daniel was going to cite over a dozen of my articles, then he could have contacted me for the comparison of projects or used the contact form on the website and I would have told him what I thought of the different projects and companies.
One sketchy way to track the predicted dates for each player’s commercial power plant is to review the articles issued periodically by Brian Wang on nextbigfuture.com. For the last dozen years, Wang has quoted uncritically the rash predictions of future accomplishments with dates furnished by project promoters. Wang treats all projects and unjustified claims seriously, but you, dear reader, will merely take note of the dates promised for commercial fusion reactors.
In general, I do not slam projects and companies. Especially, if I am reviewing what they hope to achieve. I would have to write three to four times as many articles with three articles criticizing projects and companies for every article describing what some company is attempting to achieve.
All of the nuclear fusion companies and projects that have been around long enough have slipped dates and target deadlines. ITER the big Tokamak project is the worst offender in terms of slipped dates. ITER also confuses people in the press releases about the different kinds of breakeven.
A tokamak nuclear fusion demonstration power plant (DEMO) will not arrive before 2050. Tens of billions of dollars will be needed for DEMO reactors. DEMO reactors are after ITER. DEMO’s would show that controlled nuclear fusion can generate net electrical power and mark the final step before the construction of a commercial fusion power plant. This would represent the next stage after ITER, the world’s largest fusion experiment underway, which is expected to demonstrate by the late 2030s that fusion can be used to generate net energy, i.e. produce more energy than supplied to it to feed the reactor. ITER is overpriced and very late. ITER began in 1985 as a Reagan–Gorbachev initiative with the equal participation of the Soviet Union, the European Atomic Energy Community, the United States, and Japan through the 1988–1998 initial design phases.
ITER Tokamak Timeline
1985 ITER project starts
2039 maybe net energy [for the plasma] is produced by ITER for 500 seconds
ITER lists its goals as ITER is designed for much higher fusion power gain, or Q greater than 10. For 50 MW of injected heating power it will produce 500 MW of fusion power for long pulses of 400 to 600 seconds. ITER will not capture the power it produces as electricity, but as the first of all fusion experiments in history to produce net energy. In a rollover, there is a definition of net energy. Net energy refers to the energy to heat the plasma and the energy in heat from the plasma.
2050s the first DEMO pre-commercial demonstrations begin operating
2085 maybe some giant and expensive commercial tokamaks begin operation, but would not be cheaper than current nuclear fission reactors
Nextbigfuture has noted the delays in promised commercialization of nuclear fusion. In 2018 and at other updates articles, Nextbigfuture noted that General Fusion and other companies missed their dates. When new dates are given, Nextbigfuture frequently notes the slippage from the prior date.
In 1998, Roy Bickerton gave an introductory on the ‘History of the approach to ignition’. His 1998 predictions for the future was for ITER operational in 2005, and DEMO in 2025. ITER will be at least 20 years late and DEMO will likely be 30 years late. I believe ITER will be 25-35 years late if it gets completed. I am sure Daniel Jassby knew this history. Daniel chose to only slam the non-Tokamaks for missing target dates.
Daniel Jassby notes the problems of the non-Tokamak nuclear fusion companies and focuses on the neutron production. Daniel ignores the decades of delays in the ITER Tokamak project. I do not claim that Daniel Jassby is ignorant. I claim that he is biased and rude.
The expected cost of ITER has risen from $5 billion USD to $20 billion USD, and the timeline for operation at full power was moved from the original estimate of 2016 to 2027. However, the schedule for deuterium and tritium experiments would be in 2035 if things started to go right. They will not be able to complete the deuterium and tritium experiments in 2035 those will go on until 2040 at least. ITER publicizes the 2025 date of first plasma but not the uncertainty of funding and sacrificing of post plasma timeline. The real fusion experiments will be in 2035-2040 and hope to reach 20 minutes of operation. ITER talks about 50 megawatts in 500 MW out but the 50 MW in is for power directly to the heat the hydrogen and the out is heat. It is not electricity input to electricity output.
ITER and many fusion companies and project mislead people into thinking that plasma breakeven is power plant breakeven. Those can be differences of 100 times.
Nextbigfuture has tracked the new Tokamak startups. Commonwealth Fusion systems is targeting 2033 for commercial nuclear fusion.
SOURCES- LPP Fusion, Many Nuclear fusion projects, APS article, Daniel Jassby
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com