Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fusion Report 06 May 008

Richard Nebel tells about plans for commercializing the Bussard Fusion Reactor (BFR) at Talk Polywell. Richard starts off discussing who owns the BFR technology and patents. DOD is The Department of Defense. Currently the US Navy is funding the research.
...EMC2 owns the patents and the commercialization rights. DOD retains the right to use the technology free of charge. That's a pretty standard arrangement.

As for DOD taking control of the technology, I think that's pretty unlikely. The most similar parallel to this that I can think of was the development of fission power. Both nuclear fission propulsion and commercial power were developed in parallel. It isn't a coincidence that both systems are LWRs. I expect a similar situation here. Everyone that I have talked to at the DOD understands that energy supply is a major national security issue. It's not in the national interest of the US to keep this technology from going commercial. Furthermore, this project has never been classified. Fusion research world-wide was declassified in 1958 by international treaty.

Finally, I appreciate your concern about research being slowed down by the lack of dialogue. My previous research at LANL (POPS for instance) was always public domain. The reason we did it that way is because we figured that the patents would run out before we could commercialize it and the benefits of having it critiqued outweighed the drawbacks of getting "scooped". I still feel that way, but I have a little different responsibilities at EMC2. We have a responsibility to get this technology developed in a timely manner and I also have a responsibility to look after the interests of our employees and the corporation.
From the way he is talking he seems pretty confidant of success. I sure hope he is right. Dr. Nebel also reports that the EMC2 contract with the Navy runs through August. So that gives some idea of when we might know the answer.

To get an idea of what success would mean check out:

Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion also check out the IEC Fusion Technology blog.

The side bar at IEC Fusion Technology blog has links to various discussion groups. They can be found under the heading Working Groups.

A good tutorial and a history of the project before the US Navy resumed funding can be found at: World's Simplest Fusion Reactor Revisited.

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