Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New IEC Fusion Research Group Opens

Space Ports reports the opening of an IEC Fusion Research facility to develop fusion for spacecraft propulsion.
AVRC has been awarded a contract by Wise County's Industrial Development Authority to manage a $7 million energy research center now under construction in the Lonesome Pine Business and Technology Park [PDF] in Wise, VA focused on the development of inertial electrostatic confinement aneutronic fusion energy at the Appalachia America Energy Research Center along with other projects in a significant energy technology portfilio.

Plans are in the works to conduct a multimillion-dollar research project in Wise to develop fusion technology into a cheap source for everything from electricity to spacecraft propulsion. Invented by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Dr. George Miley, the process involves pumping aerosol boron plasma into a spherical container where it is made very, very hot. The atoms begin to fuse, creating energy.

The project will start small, with about 6-8 researchers, and could employ 20-28 researchers within 18 months.
That is interesting.

Whose work is this based on? George Miley who I mentioned in A New Theory Of Electrodynamics. A look at the AVR page on fusion has some more hints.
The Intertial Electrostatice Confinement (IEC) Fusion Propulsion technology being promoted by AVRC was developed by Dr. George Miley.

Fusion reactions release an enormous amount of energy which is why there is such a large push for research in harnessing the energy for propulsion systems. A fusion propulsion system could have a specific impulse about 300 times greater than a conventional chemical rocket engine. Fusion-powered rockets would use hydrogen as a propellant, which means it would be able to replenish itself as it travels through space.
I wonder how they plan to fuse hydrogen which is very difficult to fuse because it requires converting a proton into a neutron to make the reaction work. Or maybe they just plan to use hydrogen gathered in space as reaction mass and plan to fuse something else. Sort of like a modified Bussard Ramjet.

AVR has a slide show in pdf of their design. It is a variant of a Farnsworth Fusor operating with 600 to 800 volt drive which will burn Hydrogen and Boron 11. I wonder how they plan to make it work with such low drive voltages? Perhaps their plan to begin with a Deuterium-Helium 3 fuel has something to do with it.

This paper [pdf} indicates that they are planning to use the IEC design as just a thruster to start with.
A novel plasma jet thruster, based on Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) technology, is proposed for ultra maneuverable - space thruster for satellite and small probe thrust operations. The IEC Jet design potential offers an unique capability to cover a wide range of powers (few Watts to Kilowatts) with good efficiency while providing a plasma jet that can start with a large diameter but be narrowed directionally to focus on targets The IEC thruster uses a spherical configuration, wherein ions are generated and accelerated towards the center of a spherical vacuum chamber A virtual cathode forms in the high-density central core region, combined with a locally distorted cathode grid potential field, extracts accelerated ions into an intense quasi-neutral ion jet. Thus, the IEC thruster is roughly analogous to a planar electrostatic ion thruster "folded" into spherical form. Estimates suggest that its electrical efficiency would match conventional plasma thrusters, while offering advantages in design simplicity, reduced erosion giving long life time, reduced propellant leakage losses, and high power-to-weight ratio. Heat rejection is eased due to large heated surface areas making the unit especially well suited to high power operation.
That might work. And if it does fusion could come later.

Kind of like the progression in piston pump technology. First you build pumps. Very handy. Then you apply steam and pumps become a power source. Then you figure out how to burn the fuel inside the cylinder and you get an internal combustion engine. Let's hope we can compress the development cycle from hundreds of years to a couple of decades.

Update: 1934z 29 Jan 2010

Next Big Future has more.

A New Theory Of Electrodynamics

I have just sent this out to a group of physicists and scientists to see if it has any merit.

Here is the cover letter I sent:
George Miley of U Illinois, Champaign is involved.

I am passing this on after a cursory review. It was published yesterday. Please give it 5 minutes before you give up. The speed of light bit in the beginning was off putting for me. But it gets explained better later. The equations at first glance are compelling. They are better covered in the second 5 minutes. I'm going to review it more carefully with multiple stops to get a better feel. This is rapid fire and not typical lecture speed.

I'm more at home with engineering but I am at least conversant with all the material presented. I have also introduced the video to Lubos Motl to see what he thinks.
It will be interesting if anything comes of it.

Here are some of the documents in the video:

Evidence of Cold Fusion?

Impulse Gravity Generator?

Gravitomagnetic Field of a Rotating Superconductor
and of a Rotating Superfluid [pdf]

Researchers now able to stop, restart light

The Control of the Natural Forces by Frank Znidarsic [pdf]

BBC News - Boeing tries to defy gravity

Quantum Chemistry - McQuarrie

Tapping the Zero Point Energy

H/T jlumartinez at Talk Polywell

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nerd Night Report

Here is the first sketchy report on last night's nerd night in New York.
If you've never been to a Nerd Nite before, here's how it goes down. Take a college PowerPoint seminar on bird migration or muscular dystrophy or nuclear fusion or what have you, and hold it late at night in a hip bar in DUMBO. Allow anyone to present on any scientific subject, regardless of obscurity, social appropriateness, or sobriety. Yes. It is exactly as crazy and surreal as you imagine. And it is great.

Tonight's lectures were on open source Bussard reactors, the neuroscience of visual perception in the context of art, the anti-ergonomic effects of running shoes, and teledildonics. I think you can probably imagine how each of those went.

Perhaps most notably, this is the first large social event I've been to in NYC in which I've actually succeeded in getting to meet and hang out with random strangers in my general age cohort. Maybe I don't completely suck at making new friends after all.

I missed nerds so much.
Here is my original announcement of Nerd Night with fusion.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nerd Night

Famulus of Prometheus Fusion will be featured at Nerd Night, Friday, January 15th, in NYC.
*Presentation 1

Fusing the Atom and Living to Tell
by Famulus

Description: We have built an open source nuclear fusion reactor and fused the atom. This is the story of a remarkable fusion device called the Farnsworth Fusor and its successor, the Bussard Reactor (aka. Polywell). The Bussard Reactor holds the promise of clean cheap abundant energy from fusion. This is a story of research on the edge.

Bio: Famulus is an entrepreneur, hacker, and rails developer. In 2008 he learned of the Bussard fusion reactor and left the software world to try and build a working Bussard Reactor.
If you have the time and the inclination a night out with the nerds could be fun. And if you want learn the basics of fusion energy so you can ask intelligent questions you can start 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

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The University of Sydney Is Building Small Polywell

Prometheus Fusion reports that the University of Sydney is building a small Polywell with copper coils.

He has picture and a link to a series of Power Point slides explaining the work.