Krivit continues his crusade against DECEPTION!
What has been done is to replace “input power” with “input heating power.” Krivit says this is to “differentiate between reactor input power and plasma heating input power.” He’s not wrong, but … “Input heating power” could still be misunderstood. In fact, all along what was meant by “input power” was plasma heating power, and it never meant total power consumption, not even total power consumption by the heating system, since there are inefficiencies in converting electrical power to plasma heating.
Krivit calls all this “false and misleading statements about the promised performance of the ITER fusion reactor” and claims “This misrepresentation was a key factor in the ITER organization’s efforts to secure $22 billion of public funding.”
If anyone was misled about ITER operation, they were not paying attention.
The most misunderstanding seems to have occurred in press reports, but I’ve been reading about ITER and tokamaks and fusion reactors for over fifty years and I have never seen them represented as being close to ready for electrical power production. They have always been experimental affairs, attempting to demonstrate “fusion power,” and the meaning of that term has never been “net electrical power generated” but rather “power released from fusion,” power being heating.
Krivit then claims, “The fraudulent claims were effected by a) hiding the true amount of input power and b) using the misleading term “fusion power,” as explained in “The ITER Power Amplification Myth.” Below are before-and-after comparisons.
There does not appear to have been any “hiding,” i.e., attempt to conceal.
Krivit personally and originally misunderstood the meaning of the various announcements, because of his own ignorance. Above, his statement assumes that there is a clear and singular definition of “input power,” and their meaning is false, and his is “true.” But he does not actually know the full system input power, it’s complex. It is of peripheral interest with the ITER project, which simply was not designed to optimize system power.
In my last post, I pointed to the design goals of ITER; the fundamental mission is to study a steady-state plasma, to confirm that it can be maintained with high Q (fusion power/plasma heating power), and to study its effect on reactor materials. It is true that many media accounts and some of the ITER PR materials did not carefully explain the situation.
However, Krivit does over the top:
The use of the phrase “500 MW of fusion power” is still misleading and deceptive for lay readers who do not understand that, in this context, “fusion power” does not mean what they think it means.
The use of the phrase “fusion power,” as used here, is still undefined on the ITER Web site and thus still reflects an unethical and fraudulent scientific practice.
What do “they think it means”? The term, as used for many years, means the release of energy from fusion, power being the rate of release. ITER is planned to release 500 MW, for about eight minutes. Krivit then gets this all confused with “net power,” a poorly-defined term. But “unethical” and “fraudulent”? Those are extreme terms. Who is being harmed? If legislators tasked with making funding decisions were misled as to what had been done and what was planned, that would be an undesirable result of poor explanation. If this was done deliberately, it would be unethical and “fraudulent” could describe it. But Krivit has not shown any sign of such wilful deception. Key is that Krivit found many experts who explained the situation to him. They knew. They were not deceived. Only he and some other journalists failed to understand, perhaps. Decision-makers would not be making decisions based on shallow press reports. Or at least we hope not!
I’m still struck by Krivit’s first reaction on learning about the “input power” issue.
When I first learned that some thermonuclear fusion representatives had been promoting fusion results with a secondary meaning of the phrase “fusion power” — one that drastically changed the perceived importance of the data — I didn’t believe it.
- He didn’t believe it, but “it” was simply the normal meaning of “fusion power.”
- He calls it a “secondary meaning” because he has some other meaning in mind, that he imagines is “primary.” He apparently means “all related power inputs,” which is actually quite fuzzy. Sure, in assessing the performance of a power plant, one would ultimately want to know all inputs and costs. But ITER (and JET before it) were not power plants. They were experimental plasma devices, “reactors.”
- “The perceived importance” was simply Krivit’s befuddled imagination.
What is the “primary meaning” of “fusion power”? I have searched Krivit’s stories for a definition, so far coming up empty; usage in all the sources he quotes seems to be as I have presented it above. The rate of energy release from fusion. Krivit obviously has something else in mind.
Krivit is so busy claiming that everyone else is wrong and deceptive and fraudulent that he never actually explains himself.