[ RadSafe ] Nuclear fusion coming soon

JPreisig at aol.com JPreisig at aol.com
Sun Jul 3 22:56:28 CDT 2011

In a message dated 7/1/2011 1:08:00 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
denferguso at state.pa.us writes:

Actually, we probably could "bank on it" if the program was  properly 

I was a rad tech at Princeton's TFTR during the D-T  test shots: they were 
getting some really interesting results while I was  there. Things like the 
record temperature, enhanced reverse shear mode  magnetic fields, six-Tesla 
shots, and some interesting self-insulating of the  plasma fields. We even 
had a purification system to recover unburned tritium  from the exhaust 
gases. And this was in the 90's, using mostly 1970's  technology. No 
superconducting magnets, etc. I often wonder how much further  we'd have gone with all 
the new advances on the machine. But the funding  wasn't there for the 

There's little industrial funding going  to fusion projects, because 
industry is tied to the current fission  technologies, which I personally feel are 
less safe than fusion. We had  "disruptions" (loss of magnetic containment) 
on the system. It was no big  deal, and there was no decay heat problem. I 
worked in the TMI2 cleanup and in  commercial nuclear power, so I am aware 
of nuclear safety.  

Yes,  it's difficult to control essentially a miniature star in a jar... 
but I have  confidence in the folks at Princeton, UW-Madison, LANL, ITER and 
other  projects. The Manhattan Project took theory to practical in a short 
period of  time. I think we're up to it.

Lack of vision? It could cost us.  Developing new technology to become 
energy independent is a worthwhile  project. If we want the economy to improve, 
research will provide us the tools  to do it. If fusion is to become viable, 
we need to adequately fund tokamak,  inertial confinement, and other fusion 
test projects. Not just laugh at it.  Consider it an investment in the 

My humble opinion and not  necessarily that of the management! 

Dennis E. Ferguson | Radiation  Protection Program Supervisor 
PA Dept of Environmental Protection - Bureau  of Radiation  Protection
denferguso at pa.gov
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