Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fusion - A New Hope?

A private company has just gotten a $50 million cash infusion for its fusion experiments.
A private company in Foothill Ranch that is reportedly experimenting with nuclear fusion power has raised $50 million in funding, according to a report from Socaltech.com.

Little more information was available Monday about the experiments at the company, Tri-Alpha Energy, or the funding itself. In the past, Socaltech reported, Tri-Alpha has received funding from Goldman Sachs, Venrock, Vulcan Capital and New Enterprise Associates.

Tri-Alpha's experiments, based on the work of UC Irvine plasma physics professor Norman Rostoker, have been rumored for years, but the company has not revealed the nature of its experiments to the public.

Solcaltech calls it a "stealth developer of advanced plasma fusion technology.
Well not exactly stealth. I reported on the work of Rostoker and Monkton in additions to something I first posted in November of 2007. Still, the fact that they are either getting new money or a release of promised money is good news. The more different ideas we explore on the way to practical fusion the sooner we will reach that goal. Because this is an experimental field. And as Einstein once said, "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"

Tri-Alpha Energy, Polywell Fusion, and Dense Plasma Focus are all working on the holy grail of fusion physics. The combining of Hydrogen (a proton when ionized) and Boron 11 which is a fusion reaction that gives off very few neutrons and whose reaction product is high energy (relatively) charged particles which would allow converting the resultant energy directly to electricity. This greatly lowers the cost of a power plant. Consider that for a fission (currently Uranium) power plant 80% of the cost is in the steam plant which is used to convert the heat output of the reactor into electricity or shaft horsepower in the case of a ship.

One other point. Consider the millions being spent on these fusion experiments with the billions being spent on ITER which is currently in big financial trouble. The reported fix is to steal money from small research projects in other disciplines.

Of course I like Polywell Fusion. 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

And the best part about Polywell? We Will Know In Two Years or less.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Second Hand Report From The American Society of Naval Engineers Symposium

rschaffer8 at Talk Polywell gives a third hand report of a second hand report about the symposium.
The American Society of Naval Engineers held a symposium on "Engineering the Total Ship" on July 14 and 15. The session titled “Technology for the Future Navy” was moderated by Dr. John Pazik, Director, Ship Systems and Engineering Division, Office of Naval Research. I was not in attendance at the meeting, but a colleague in his meeting report and follow-up discussions with me indicated that Dr. Pazik made several favorable references to Polywell Fusion to the point where my colleague immediately did a google search to find out more. Although I don’t know specifically what Dr. Pazik said and I don’t know who was in attendance at this session, I believe it is significant that he would mention it in this forum. The meeting was attended by about 130 naval engineers and analysts including nine admirals constituting the leadership of the Navy’s engineering establishment. Ron O’Rourke, a very influential naval analyst for the Congressional Research Service was also in attendance. I do not know if Dr. Pazik’s comments reflected any preliminary results of the ongoing ONR funded research at EMC2. However, I don’t think Dr. Pazik would jeopardize his professional reputation or ONR’s before such an influential audience if he did not believe Pollywell Fusion had genuine technical potential. More information on the symposium is available at: Engineering the Total Ship
I think this means the experiments to date show promise. I will try to get more details.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Quantum Mechanic

If you are interested in quantum physics as I am I think you will find this paper very interesting: Modern Physics is Rotting [pdf]. You can also follow the discussion and read some words by the author at Talk Polywell.

You can also read more sections of Prof. Johan F. Prins's forthcoming book at Cathodixx.

Here are the opening paragraphs of the pdf linked above. He then goes on in this piece to give a simplified explanation of his theory with simple math.
Physics is considered to be the purest of all natural sciences. Scientists practising physics are supposedly those “special” people who search for knowledge with an “open mind”. New ideas and concepts are supposedly welcomed and objectively considered and tested. Since my own training is in physics and materials science, I also believed that this behaviour must reign supreme in science. I have applied these rules diligently while building my own career.

It thus came as a traumatic shock to discover when already approaching retirement that the real bigots in the world are to be found within the physics community, and more specifically amongst our modern-day theoretical physicists who have lost the plot many years ago when Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) convinced them during the 1920’s that it is impossible to “visualise” what happens on the atomic scale.
One other quote from the bottom of the second page of the Talk Polywell link above that I thought was very pertinent to the subject:
But the most important fact is that I should have been able to predict the result WITHOUT ANY EXPERIMENTAL VERIFICATION, since the impeccable solid state physics on which electronic devices are based demand that it must be so.
What he is saying is that we have empirical physics (transistors) that does not match current superconductor physics. What he has come up with (if true) is a unifying principle that explains both.

His complete book is due out later this year and I will do a post on it when it is available.