Thursday, March 25, 2010

Clearing Up Misconceptions

Rick Nebel who is in charge of the Polywell Experiments at EMC2 comments on Alan Boyle's article on progress in Fusion Power on MSNBC's Cosmic Log.
As usual, I seem to have created some misconceptions by my comments. First of all, what we said on our website is that the work on the WB-7 has been completed. We did not discuss the results. If you would like to conjecture what those results are, let me suggest that you notice the fact that we are working on the WB-8 device. The WB-8 was not a part of Dr. Bussard's original development plan. This device came about as a result of the peer review process which suggested that there were issues that needed to be resolved at a smaller scale before proceeding to a demo. This was a conclusion that EMC2 heartily concurred with. I don't want to leave people with the impression that everything on the WB-7 is identical to the WB-6.

Secondly, in our contract with the DOD, EMC2 owns the commercialization rights for the Polywell. However, commercialization is not something that we can do with our DOD funding. That is what we would like to look at with any contributions from the website. This will enable us to:

1. Design an attractive commercial reactor package.
2. Identify the high leverage physics items that most impact the design (i.e. how good is good enough).
3. Give us a base design when we are ready to proceed to the next step.

rnebel (Sent Wednesday, March 24, 2010 9:12 PM)
I think it is evident that the Polywell people are making progress. Will it actually lead to a viable fusion power machine? There is no way to know for sure until the experiments are done. I am hopeful. It seems like Rick is hopeful as well and with better reason. He has the data.

Some of my more recent articles on the subject:

Rick Nebel has a few things to say:
Polywell - No BS - No Excuses

Pictures of past and future Polywell efforts:

Where the money for commercialization will come from:
Venture Capital Likes Fusion

H/T DeltaV at Talk Polywell

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Polywell - No BS - No Excuses

Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log has a new article up on Polywell Fusion.
You won't hear Rick Nebel talking about fusion as a challenge requiring billions of dollars and decades of experimentation. For the past couple of years, Nebel heads up a handful of researchers following the less-traveled path to fusion at EMC2 Fusion Development Corp. in Santa Fe, N.M. That path involves creating a high-voltage chamber to sling ions so energetically at each other that at least some of them fuse and release energy.

EMC2 recently created a buzz in the fusion underground by reporting on its Web site that a series of experiments was able to "validate and extend" earlier results reported by the late physicist Robert Bussard. The company is now using a $7.9 million contract from the U.S. Navy to build a bigger test machine, known as WB-8. (WB stands for "Wiffle Ball," which refers to the shape of the machine's magnetic fields.)

What's more, Nebel and his colleagues are now seeking contributions to fund the development of what they say would be a 100-megawatt fusion plant - a "Phase 3" effort projected to cost $200 million and take four years.

"Successful Phase 3 marks the end of fossil fuels," the Web site proclaims.

Success isn't assured. The WB-8 experiment could conceivably show that the approach pioneered by Bussard, known as inertial electrostatic confinement fusion or IEC fusion, can't be scaled up to produce more power than it consumes. And if Nebel's team comes to that conclusion, he doesn't plan to pull any punches.

"No B.S. and no excuses," Nebel told me over the weekend. "If it looks like we have a problem with this, we're going to tell them."
Now that is a really different attitude from what has gone on in ITER. It was obvious to me a few years ago that the program was in trouble. But only in the last year have they admitted it by slipping the schedule by almost three years. So far.

You can read my earlier post on what I learned from EMC2 at WB-D which has some nice pictures of experiments and their proposed 100 MW device.

Thursday, March 18, 2010



EMC2 (Polywell Fusion) has updated their site with an image of WB-8 shown above. The Drawing is labeled as "with diagnostics".

And then there is this picture:

WB-D 100MW Polywell Demo Device

Your Contributions Will Help Us Design The WB-D Polywell Device

Send your supporting contributions to:

New Mexico Community Foundation

Contact Energy Matter Conversion Corporation

1202 Parkway Drive Suite A
Santa Fe, NM 87507
Phone: 505-471-2050
Email: Rick at Emc2fusion dot com
There is considerable speculation at Talk Polywell as to what it all means.

And since from time to time there are people reading here who need to be brought up to speed on fusion I'm reposting my usual: 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 or less.

I'm a big fan of small fusion projects. Especially after hearing what 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." And they seem really hard to build even. And who knows, if the Polywell experiments being done by the US Navy are successful the ITER project may just wind up as a big hole in the ground in France.


Here is the progress report given so far by EMC2:
EMC2 Fusion Development Corporation has been formed as a charitable research and development organization in frontier energy technologies with emphasis on fusion.

Fusion R&D Phase 1 - Validate and extend WB-6 results with WB-7 Device: 1.5 years / $1.8M, Successfully Completed

Fusion R&D Phase 2 - Design, build and test larger scale WB-8 Polywell Device: 2 years / $7M, In Process

Fusion R&D Phase 3 - Design, build and test full scale 100 MW Fusion System: 4 years / $200M, In Design Phase

Successful Phase 3 marks the end of fossil fuels
Good luck and happy fusing to the EMC2 folks and Rick Nebel who is leading the project.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Venture Capital Likes Fusion

If you read my post Investing In Polywell you would know that venture capital seems interested in funding fusion start-ups. We now have more confirmation in this Finance Business article.
A prominent venture capitalist, Wal van Lierop, of Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, has begun to invest in companies (such as General Fusion) who are providing patents and technologies for economical fusion power. in a recent interview at the Clean Tech Investor Summit (which we're very sad we're not attending), van Lierop said that he expects large energy companies to start thinking about building fusion plants within the next five years.

As we've noted before here at EcoGeek, the best way to track down that technologies are going to (very shortly) change the world is to watch what the venture capitalists are doing. these are people who basically make ridiculous sums of cash by predicting the future...and investing in it. and since they've got so much riding on their bets, they like to do a lot of research.

Often this is research that people like me (because I don't have billions of dollars to invest) can't do. So I follow the VCs, and pay attention to what they're saying.

And what van Lierop is saying seems almost crazy, on the surface. But dig a little deeper, and things start looking exciting. despite sounding like a comic book hero, General Fusion's technology is very realistic. in a world where we're all used to hearing that "Fusion power has been twenty years away for twenty years" hearing that it's five years away is pretty remarkable.
Yes. It does seem remarkable. Except if you have been reading articles of mine like: We Will Know In Two Years or less. Or one of my more recent ones like: Advanced and Delayed.

Let me also say that I have been approached several times over the last few years to personally develop a project that would reach the fusion goal faster than any government project. One of these days I will connect either with my own project or as an assistant to some one else's project.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Investing In Polywell

Famulus at Prometheus Fusion had a close encounter with an angel investor from Europe. He gives an account of his interactions. Famulus was kind enough to ask me for some assistance with his proposal. I also got one of my physicist friends (Dr. Mike) to help out.

Famulus needs to raise funds to continue his experiments. He is getting close to his goal.

Donate Here.