Sunday, June 29, 2008

Managed Fusion Power

The wild and free Sun, our local deep space campfire, is powered by condensed hydrogen atoms that as they get mashed by gravity, they heat up and merge (or fuse) to form Helium atoms.

This process releases a photon each time.

All that Hydrogen, which was really about all there was before the Universe condensed into stars, galaxies etc., creates a lot of energy and light as it fuses into Helium. The Sun is also, to use a scientific description, frikken huge. Its diameter is 68+ times that of the earth. So the way we get our life sustaining energy is from a big wild roiling explosive ball of nulear fusion.

The Sun is an entirely unmanaged resource. Or it seems about as well managed as an energy source as a BP Texas oil refinery. So much of the energy of the Sun just jets into space in random explosions.

It would be amazing if we could use Hydrogen to make a star that was carefully managed from the start. It could be steadily fueled and waste products somehow safely purged. We could maybe even design a star to live far longer that our Sun.

Our star, SOL, is among the longer lived star types. Some are so massive that they explode and die far sooner compared to other stars. The solar sphere is so vast and yet only a comparatively small bit of that energy strikes the Earth. A carefully designed, planned and managed star could be a stable reliable source of energy for many worlds for billions more years than the 5 billion our star will burn.

The work of replicating the Sun's energy system is in progress in the study of Fusion reactors

We need the supernovas and red giants of the universe to manufacture elements of higher atomic number in their violent death throes.

It just seems to me that if the Sun were an engine, that has a lot of torque but randomly backfires and blows seals, we'd see it as needing design improvements.

Not that I am complaining about my current solar-powered existence.



M. Simon said...

You might find this of interest:

Fusion Report 13 June 008

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