Polywell, ITER and the Helium Supply

If polywell fusion is developed, in what ways will the world change for better or worse? Discuss.

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Isochroma
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Postby Isochroma » Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:02 pm

Wired Magazine: Three Smart Things You Should Know About Helium
03.24.08 | 6:00 PM

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/16-04/st_3smart

Although helium is the second-most-plentiful element in the cosmos — it's synthesized in stars by nuclear fusion — Earth is running short of the noble gas. Extracted from natural gas, our supply accumulated in the planet's crust over billions of years — the result of radioactive decay. One-third of that stash lies in the Texas panhandle, and if it continues to be consumed at the current rate, it'll be gone in nine years.

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:52 pm

Isochroma wrote:Wired Magazine: Three Smart Things You Should Know About Helium
03.24.08 | 6:00 PM

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/16-04/st_3smart

Although helium is the second-most-plentiful element in the cosmos — it's synthesized in stars by nuclear fusion — Earth is running short of the noble gas. Extracted from natural gas, our supply accumulated in the planet's crust over billions of years — the result of radioactive decay. One-third of that stash lies in the Texas panhandle, and if it continues to be consumed at the current rate, it'll be gone in nine years.


It can be extracted from any natural gas. It will be if the price goes up enough. Which it will if supplies are declining.

BTW the sky is falling, if it keeps falling at the current rate there will be no sky in 30 years.

Its always something.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

Torulf2
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Postby Torulf2 » Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:17 pm

He is common in earth upper atmosphere.
A suggestion.
Made balloon possible with hydrogen. Have it grounded with a thin wire.
Have some light extraction equipments. Bring it down and hardest the He.
He is god to diffuse threw porous materials. A vacuum bottle with a porous membrane will draw in the He and stop the carp gases.

Warthog
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Don't Need Helium

Postby Warthog » Fri May 23, 2008 2:13 pm

scareduck wrote:
Isochroma wrote:And it will only work if the plants can be filled with the required helium. Catch-22 anyone?

So the solution is to use superconductors with Tc > 77K.


Which already exist and are being put into commercial use. Saw an article about a week ago about a 2000 ft liquid nitrogen cooled high voltage transmission link being put into commercial service.

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Fri May 23, 2008 5:59 pm

Warthog,

The difficulty is that to support the required magnetic field you have to run even HTSCs at around 20K.

I think that by the time He becomes a problem we will be making it.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

kunkmiester
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Postby kunkmiester » Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:41 pm

What about hydrogen? Granted you'd need a "no smoking" sign in the cryo plant, but you can get it down to 20 K, and neon can get closer to the helium temps.

Hydrogen should be enough for most superconductors. Think outside the box guys, is there an alternative coolant that could be cycled through the reactor, then a helium bath or some such to get the critical temperature, without needing the massive amounts for the primary coolant?
Evil is evil, no matter how small

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:55 pm

kunkmiester wrote:What about hydrogen? Granted you'd need a "no smoking" sign in the cryo plant, but you can get it down to 20 K, and neon can get closer to the helium temps.

Hydrogen should be enough for most superconductors. Think outside the box guys, is there an alternative coolant that could be cycled through the reactor, then a helium bath or some such to get the critical temperature, without needing the massive amounts for the primary coolant?


Precooling might be a good idea. Except for residual frozen precool gases left behind in the cooling circuit complicating how you have to deal with with the LHe.

And do you have any idea what intrinsic safety required in a hydrogen environment does to instrument costs? Or how about you get a bright idea and want to run some wire to an instrument. Everything added must be boxed, wires in conduit, and energy limited. And before you can do that everything to be done has to be signed off by the safety officer. And after it is done it needs to be inspected and signed off by the safety officer.

At least for an experimental device it is not worth it. BTW I'm contemplating taking the MRI magnets down to 1.8 K for higher fields. You can't do that with H2.

Once we have more light than darkness cost reductions are certainly in order. Right now the design should be for flexibility. No LH2.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

jsbiff
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Postby jsbiff » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:58 pm

Is there any significant amount of helium available in things like Oil Shale, or the Oil Sands of Canada, where we might be able to recover large amounts of helium from such resources which are mostly un-exploited at present, simply because they are not as cheap as drilling for crude?

zapkitty
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Postby zapkitty » Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:37 pm

jsbiff wrote:Is there any significant amount of helium available in things like Oil Shale, or the Oil Sands of Canada, where we might be able to recover large amounts of helium from such resources which are mostly un-exploited at present, simply because they are not as cheap as drilling for crude?


Don't know of any such resources but what if there was? Are you actually considering the idea of requiring oil companies to reclaim and not waste a nationally valuable resource that is a byproduct of their extraction efforts?

Even if there was He available in such deposits it's a little late for such requirements now that the lords and masters firmly have the bit between their teeth.

jsbiff
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Postby jsbiff » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:04 am

zapkitty wrote:
jsbiff wrote:Is there any significant amount of helium available in things like Oil Shale, or the Oil Sands of Canada, where we might be able to recover large amounts of helium from such resources which are mostly un-exploited at present, simply because they are not as cheap as drilling for crude?


Don't know of any such resources but what if there was? Are you actually considering the idea of requiring oil companies to reclaim and not waste a nationally valuable resource that is a byproduct of their extraction efforts?

Even if there was He available in such deposits it's a little late for such requirements now that the lords and masters firmly have the bit between their teeth.


Wow, quite the cynic lol. I guess it's not really unwarranted though.

Actually, my understanding is that the energy required to extract the kerogen (from oil shale) or bitumen (from oil sands) is the main thing that currently makes it uneconomical to extract. If you have cheap power from fusion, it makes it cheaper to extract the hydrocarbons and such from the shale/sands.

So, my reasoning is that, with cheap electric power, either

A) there's still going to be a market for hydrocarbons to make gas/diesel to run cars, trucks, boats, etc, and therefor the oil industry will have an economic incentive to support fusion electric power (so they have a cheap abundant source of energy to extract the oil with cheaply), so it would be in their interest to harvest the helium and sell it off to the fusion utilities.

Or

B) The fusion power companies, using current reserves of helium, are so successful that they are able to drive some of the oil companies out of business, then come in and buy up the rights to the oil shale/sands that the oil industry is no longer using, and the fusion companies can harvest the helium themselves.

That is, if there's any helium in those deposits to begin with. If not, then of course, it's all kind of moot.

kcdodd
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Postby kcdodd » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:22 am

It is hard to imagine we have so little helium, considering 1/4 of the universe is made of it.
Carter

zapkitty
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Postby zapkitty » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:30 am

kcdodd wrote:It is hard to imagine we have so little helium, considering 1/4 of the universe is made of it.


On Earth it tends to migrate up and out when liberated...

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:39 am

zapkitty wrote:
jsbiff wrote:Is there any significant amount of helium available in things like Oil Shale, or the Oil Sands of Canada, where we might be able to recover large amounts of helium from such resources which are mostly un-exploited at present, simply because they are not as cheap as drilling for crude?


Don't know of any such resources but what if there was? Are you actually considering the idea of requiring oil companies to reclaim and not waste a nationally valuable resource that is a byproduct of their extraction efforts?


If it is so valuable wouldn't it be economically valuable and thus priced accordingly?

In any case I believe the chief source of He4 is natural gas. There is a lot of it around. BTW concentrations in coal methane ought to be higher than average due to the Uranium in the coal.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

kcdodd
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Postby kcdodd » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:54 am

I would also point out that most helium was created during the big bang, and not in stars due to fusion.
Carter

D Tibbets
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Postby D Tibbets » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:55 pm

Helium in oil tars sands and shale? I doubt there is much. Remember helium is a noble gas. It is found in natural gas deposits- because natural gas also tends to collect in areas where it cannot escape, such as the top of a oil dome. The natural gas is involved with oil evolution. The helium is ther only because it is trapped as it percolates through the rocks as it is produced by radioactive decay. Without the trap, no gas accumulation. For that matter, is there any natural gas in oil shales?

Helium, like hydrogen is very common in the universe, but both are rare in the atmosphere, because they readily escape the atmosphere into space.

Besides, the D-D Polywell can make He3, which with careful conservation might be enough for limited use. Also, helium (alphas) can be made by neutron bombardment (from a Polywell, other fusion reactor, hybird, or fission reactor). The price would presumably be much higher, but if an alternative cannot be found for the various uses (such a liquid nitrogen for high temperature superconductors), it is not an absolute end.

And as M. Simon said any trapped natural gas deposits probably has helium in it. The Texas site dominates production presumably for economic reasons.

Dan Tibbets
To error is human... and I'm very human.


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