Lansing Company Plays Role in Creating True Fusion Power By Larry Klaes Ithaca
11/04/2013 - 11/30/-0001
Posted: Friday, November 1, 2013 2:19 pm In the Ithaca Times
Lansing Company Plays Role in Creating True Fusion Power By Larry Klaes Ithaca Times
Advanced Design Consulting (ADC) USA, Inc., recently announced they were chosen by the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER, through a business partner to design and build a prototype device that would one day play a major role in creating the first sustained fusion reactions.
An engineering and scientific consulting company, ADC provides devices, integrated systems and a range of high-precision components and instruments to commercial, academic and government agencies. It's called Lansing home since 1995.
ADC was selected by ITER’s partner, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee to create a “pellet selector” for the international fusion project. According the ADC President Alex Deyhim, the project began in August of this year and should be completed for delivery by January of 2014.
“This is one of the coolest projects we have done in the last seventeen years,” said Deyhim. Fusion is the process of having the nuclei of two light atoms forming into one heavier nucleus. The result is a release of more energy than put into the action. This is the same process generated by the sun and most other stars. Fusion is also the reason for the massive destructive power in hydrogen bombs. In contrast, fission involves a subatomic particle impacting with and splitting apart an atomic nucleus. All current nuclear reactors and power plants utilize some form of nuclear fission.
Fusion power is also much cleaner than fission in terms of releasing radiation into the surrounding environment. The $30 billion ITER program plans to see their first sustained fusion reactions around 2020.
The role of ADC in this major project is a prototype pellet selector. Deyhim said the fusion process involves injecting cryogenic (very cold) pellets composed of deuterium, tritium, argon, and neon at the incredibly rapid rate of 200 to 500 milliseconds apart. The pellet selector box, which measures four feet by three feet by six feet in diameter, systematically sorts the tiny (just 3 to 6 millimeters in diameter) cylindrical pellets out into three outputs.
The purpose of injecting the pellets in the fusion process is to fuel a special plasma, which Deyhim said reaches more than 200 million degrees Celsius. Perhaps the only form of matter that can contain such intense heat is a magnetic field, which ITER is working on perfecting.
“Fifty megawatts of input power creates 500 megawatts of output power,” Deyhim said. “Fusion will also be much cleaner and safer than fission.” The ADC President recommended this YouTube video:
to facilitate in understanding how fusion works and the complexities in recreating such powerful energies on earth to what goes on inside the sun.
Deyhim said another reason he is so excited about this project is that it “has a huge potential for our company to create and sustain manufacturing jobs in Lansing for many years. This will bring hard cash to the local economy.” Deyhim noted that 99 percent of ADC’s business comes from other parts of world such as NASA and large laboratories in United States. ADC also plans on building a 20,000 square-foot facility in the near future to further improve their business.
Deyhim said the pellet selector project is not only an opportunity with the massive ITER program, but the company is in line for developing two more devices for ITER. He also hopes that ADC will be chosen to build the actual pellet device for the fusion reactor.
Deyhim is also looking even further ahead as to what this all means when it comes to nuclear fusion.
“I want to look back one day and see that we did good in our role when it comes to nuclear fusion. We need to solve so many problems in the next ten thousand years for the survival of our civilization," he said. "Energy is one of our biggest issues that we need to resolve. That is why this project will be so cool for hundreds of generations to come.”
The Oak Ridge facility, which will receive the pellet selector from ADC, is funded by the Department of Energy and is a subcontractor to ITER. Eight nations are involved in the project, including the United States. The European Union (EU) is footing half of the $30 billion cost.