Friday, December 18, 2009

IEC 2009 - Wisconsin

The reports from IEC 2009 are available. Lots of meaty pdfs and Power Point presentations.

It looks like work on IEC Fusion has picked up compared to 2008.

H/T Tall Dave

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Current State Of Fusion

Alan Boyle at Cosmic Log has the latest broad look at the state of Fusion. He discusses the state of laser fusion. The the $3.5 billion American National Ignition Facility seems to be doing well. But what excites me is that he has some indirect news on The Polywell Fusion Reactor experiments.
The dark horse in the fusion race is an approach known as inertial electrostatic confinement fusion, or Polywell fusion. This method, pioneered by the late physicist Robert Bussard, involves designing a high-voltage cage in such a way that atomic nuclei slam into each other at high speeds, sparking fusion.
That is the hope. Now what about some news?
In September, EMC2 Fusion was awarded a Navy contract, backed by $7.9 million in stimulus funds, to develop a scaled-up version of a Polywell fusion reactor. Development and testing of the device is expected to take two years, and there's an option to spend another $4.4 million on experiments with hydrogen-boron fuel (known as pB11).

In the past, EMC2 Fusion's Richard Nebel has been able to describe the team's progress in general terms, saying that he was "very pleased" with the performance of an earlier test device. But now, with more Navy money on the line, Nebel has been constrained from saying anything about the project. The fact that the research is continuing, however, appears to indicate that the results have been promising enough to keep the Navy interested.
My sources on the project have dried up as well. No one is talking. I am running on unsupported rumors and conjecture. Some think that the silence is a cover up for failure. Being a fanboy I'm more inclined that they are so wildly successful that the Navy doesn't want to let the cat out of the bag any sooner than they can help. Reality is probably some where in the middle or worse. The design is so simple that if the Navy gets it to work no country is more than 5 years behind in producing a working model from scratch (given a crash program).

As you know I have been closely following the progress of the WB-X contracts at EMC2. If you want to get deeper into them:

WB-8 Contract Progress

Polywell Gets The Dough

The Boys At Talk-Polywell Have Struck Paydirt

WB-8 In The Works

Polywell Gets In On The Act

You can learn the basics of fusion energy by reading Principles of Fusion Energy: An Introduction to Fusion Energy for Students of Science and Engineering

Polywell is a little more complicated. You can learn more about Polywell and its potential at: Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

The American Thinker has a good article up with the basics.

And the best part? We Will Know In Two Years

H/T rschaffer8 at Talk Polywell

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

ITER Back To The Drawing Board

The ITER fusion test reactor project is getting a schedule review [pdf] because the project is seriously out of whack.
The scientific and engineering team building the ITER fusion reactor failed to win an expected endorsement from the project’s governing council last week. The council, which represents the seven international partners in the project—China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the United States—sent the team back to do more work on the proposed construction schedule for the mammoth undertaking.
So what is being done to fix this mismatch between means and ends?
...ITER staff have been racing for months to get the final project baseline documents, which describe the design, cost estimates, and planned schedule, ready for the 18–19 November council meeting at Cadarache (Science, 13 November, p. 932). But some council members voiced concern that the schedule, which aimed to start the reactor by 2018, was not realistic and that there was too high a risk that some part of the immensely complicated effort could go wrong.

A slip in the schedule would invariably mean increased costs, and the council is already concerned about budget estimates, which, sources say, may have doubled from ��5 billion since the partners signed up in 2006. So the council told ITER staff to nail down more firmly the risks, both technical and organizational, involved in the schedule and come back in February with earliest and latest possible start-up dates.
And they are not even going to discuss costs until they get a schedule estimate. Good.

I wonder if the fact that Focus Fusion, and Tri-Alpha Energy, and General Fusion, and other groups promise results much sooner at much lower costs also has something to do with the reevaluation.

Of course you all know my favorite. The Polywell Fusion Reactor. You can learn the basics of fusion energy by reading Principles of Fusion Energy: An Introduction to Fusion Energy for Students of Science and Engineering

Polywell is a little more complicated. You can learn more about Polywell and its potential at: Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

The American Thinker has a good article up with the basics. And the best part? We Will Know In Two Years.

Here is a good page to keep up with ITER news. I love what it says at the top of the page:

18 Years Until 1st Q = 10 DT pulse 400s long at 500MW on ITER

Plasma Physicist and author of Principles of Plasma PhysicsDr. Nicholas Krall said, "We spent $15 billion dollars studying tokamaks and what we learned about them is that they are no damn good."