Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hot Fusion Energy

The BBC reports that France will get to host the project to build a 10bn-euro ($12.16bn) fusion reactor, in the face of strong competition from Japan.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) will be the most expensive joint scientific project after the International Space Station.

The Iter programme was held up for over 18 months as parties tried to broker a deal between the two rivals.

Fusion taps energy from reactions like those that heat the Sun.

Fusion is seen as a cleaner approach to power production than nuclear fission and fossil fuels.

Prof Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, director of UK Atomic Energy Authority's (UKAEA) Culham division, said the decision was "wonderful news".

"Rapid construction of Iter will be a major step in the development of fusion as a potential large-scale source of electricity that will not contribute to climate change," he added.

In terms of the physics and huge amounts of energy involved, the Iter project would be akin to building a star on Earth.

It would be the first fusion device to produce thermal energy at the level of conventional electricity-producing power stations, and would pave the way for the first prototype commercial power station.

In a fusion reaction, energy is produced when light atoms - the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium - are fused together to form heavier atoms.

Plasma has some of the qualities of a gas, but conducts electricity and responds to magnetism.

Unlike oil, gas and coal, the sources of deuterium are almost infinite, for it is present in seawater. Tritium is a man-made isotope derived by irradiating the plentiful element lithium in the fusion vessel.

To use controlled fusion reactions on Earth as an energy source, it is necessary to heat a gas to temperatures exceeding 100 million Celsius - many times hotter than the centre of the Sun.

The technical requirements to do this, which scientists have spent decades developing, are immense. But the rewards, if Iter can be made to work successfully, are extremely attractive.

One kilogram of fusion fuel would produce the same amount of energy as 10,000,000 kg of fossil fuel.

Fusion does produce radioactive waste but not the volumes of long-term high-level radiotoxic materials that have so burdened fission.

Fusion energy may be only a few decades away or it may be many more. Regardless it is important for us to make serious investments into potential solutions to the energy challenges facing us. These include fusion, wind power, solar energy, improving battery technology for automotive applications, wave power, energy efficiency, smart grids, and micropower generation.

Full BBC Article

BBC - How Fusion Energy Works

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe in the face of oil depletion it is something of a waste of resources. So much money to find a fancy way to boil water.

11:13 am, June 28, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fancy way to boil water? Lool.
Rather from "producing food to .... boil water, and much moore".

7:37 am, July 03, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was funny, sure its a fancy way to boil water. well fancy would be a huge understatement. do you know what fusion is or even fission for that matter. do you want to be stuck in the stone age forever?

8:02 am, July 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure fusion would be expensive to develop, but that has so far been true of things such as hybrid vehicle technology and pretty much any kind of computer-based technology anyway. Besides, once these reactors are up and running, we will have access to a limitless resource, which will save on costs in the long run.

9:12 am, July 07, 2005  
Anonymous Erich Knight said...

Dear Sirs, In my searches for efficient home technology I came across EPS. I E-mailed EPS about the obvious synergies for their home generator with the power chips of Borealis. I also contacted Borealis. I have been mediating an argument between Clint Seward of Electron Power Systems http://www.electronpowersystems.com with Rodney T. Cox of http://www.powerchips.gi/. Basically Rodney said they got the math wrong and NASA is right and Clint says MIT doesn't get their math wrong. I thought you may have an interest and be of help. Both companies are proposing very disruptive technologies, Borealis in thermoelectrics and EPS in micro fusion.

Mediating, in this case, means in the middle of e-mail exchanges.
The issue seems to be Dr. Chen's paper and whether his assumptions of the aspect ratio for the plasma toroids, match the model of Clint Seward proposed device. Will the ion stability condition be satisfied to maintain equilibrium?
I'm in way over my head here and have been seeking help from interested parties, if you know any plasma physicist that may help that would be great.

Clint Seward recently sent me this e-mail, the applications, across such a broad spectrum, deserve your attention.

"An independent consulting group in Washington,DC has just reviewed our
technology for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. They just sent me a
draft for comments, and I have included it below. It is based on their
having talked with our technology partners.

Since it is a full page of technical detail before the conclusion, I have
copied the conclusion here first so you get the idea of their review.

"MIT considers these plasmas a revolutionary breakthrough, with Delphi's
chief scientist and senior manager for advanced technology both agreeing
that EST/SPT physics are repeatable and theoretically explainable. MIT and
EPS have jointly authored numerous professional papers describing their
work. (Delphi is a $33B company, the spun off Delco Division of General

Revolutionary Impact: High - reliable generation and acceleration of these
plasmas using compact mobile machinery could provide US forces with a unique
generic defense against ballistic and cruise missiles, manned and unmanned
aircraft, and kinetic-energy projectiles of all sizes, velocities and

Please let me klnow what you think.


Technology Review of Electron Power Systems (by an independent consulting
group) for Office Of The Secretary Of Defense July 2004

Technology Title: Electron spiral toroids (EST) as kinetic-energy weapons

Development Organization: Electron Power Systems, Inc., Acton, Mass.

Description: EPS teamed with MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center under an
STTR grant to develop a theoretical framework and laboratory methods for
reliably creating small (0.5-1.0 cm diameter) self-organized plasmas, called
"electron spiral toroids" (ESTs) or "spiral plasma toroids" (SPTs). EST
electrons travel in parallel orbits around a torus in densities sufficient
to create a stable, self-sustaining internal magnetic field. These novel
laboratory-level plasmas, whose physics resembles that of ball lightning,
are unusual in that they remain stable in partial atmospheres without
requiring external magnetic fields for their containment, yet can also be
accelerated in a directed fashion to potentially very high velocities (e.g.,
600 km/sec) and kinetic energies. Parallel work on formation and magnetic
acceleration of "compact toroids" is also underway at DoE's Livermore lab
and at Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Kirtland AFB, NM, although
these plasmas - which can only exist in vacuum - require large (multi-meter
long) machinery that uses magnetic field pressures associated with "Tokamak"
fusion reactors to create large-diameter (0.5-1.0 meter) plasmas, which must
then be greatly reduced in diameter and volume to be useful. By contrast,
EPS uses much smaller, cheaper hardware to repeatably generate
high-ion-density plasmas that have remained stable in air for up to 0.6
seconds at 1-Torr atmospheric pressures. The EPS/MIT work has drawn interest
from MDA and DTRA for DEW/KEW applications and from Delphi Corporation, a
major automotive electronics firm, which envisions an automotive mini-fusion
reactor that would collide two small toroids generated by 1-meter-long
"neutron tubes" and capture the heat from their collision.

Potential Operational Payoff: used as KEWs, even a tiny (microscopic-scale)
EST would generate enough kinetic energy to destroy any military vehicle or
projectile operating in the atmosphere, including solid-rod anti-armor
penetrators. These charge-neutral plasmas would be produced in large numbers
in rapid succession to form a steerable beam. Impact velocities of 600
km/sec, possibly several times higher, may be possible, based on MIT's
extrapolation of AFRL's compact-toroid acceleration experiments for vacuum.

- Effects: target destruction by kinetic impacts far above hyper velocities
(defined by the speed of sound in metal and nonmetal targets)
- Speed: up to 600 km/sec (MIT estimate), possibly up to 2000 km/sec (EPS
- Range: endoatmospheric line-of-sight up to space/atmosphere boundary
(officially defined as 62 miles)
- Power requirements: EPS proposes using EST mini-fusion reactors, whose
initial power could be provided by a car battery, to produce and accelerate
its ESTs.

Cost: no cost data available. The complexity of reliable mini-toroid
formation and acceleration with compact, relatively low-cost equipment
remains to be determined. Yet the fact that the EPS/MIT STTR work this
technology has attracted interest from Delphi is very significant, as the
automotive electronics industry is considered to be extremely demanding of
functionality per dollar and pound (e.g., mil-spec performance at
Wal-Mart-class 'commodity' prices).

Estimated Development Funding, FY 2005-2011 (combined KEW, mini-reactor)
- appr. $2M so far (Army Research Office, NASA SBIR, NASA-IAC (Institute for
Advanced Concepts) grant, BMDO STTR for $1M). EPS estimate: over FY
2005-2009, would need $0.5-$1.0M/yr (not including funding for MIT support),
but with a Phase 1 and 2 SBIR, could achieve a lab demonstration (TRL 4-5)
within 2.5-3 years of a proof-of-principle device that hits targets with
visible kinetic damage. Industrial co-funding from strategic partners
(agreements with Raytheon, Delphi (formerly GM Delco) and Titan Pulse Power)
could accelerate this.
-MIT estimate: with adequate staff and facilities funding ("at least
$2-$5M/year"), could demonstrate basic physics within 2 years, followed by
development of an integratable engineering package.

TRL 3-4. MIT considers these plasmas a revolutionary breakthrough, with
Delphi's chief scientist and senior manager for advanced technology both
agreeing that EST/SPT physics are repeatable and theoretically explainable.
MIT and EPS have jointly authored numerous professional papers describing
their work.

Revolutionary Impact: High - reliable generation and acceleration of these
plasmas using compact mobile machinery could provide US forces with a unique
generic defense against ballistic and cruise missiles, manned and unmanned
aircraft, and kinetic-energy projectiles of all sizes, velocities and

Also, a Recent speech by Rodney Cox : http://www.borealis.gi/press/NEW-GOLDEN-AGE-IBM.Speech.6=04.pdf is very inspiring.
Thomas Friedman, of the Times, wrote a great column last month. His dream of head lines he would read on return from sabbatical, the top one, China and America announce Manhattan Project for Clean Energy. The geopolitical implications of china's oil thirst as the paramount problem of our time.
The New York Times> Search> Abstract

There must be a story here down your alley.

Thanks for your attention

Erich J. Knight

9:56 pm, July 09, 2005  
Anonymous Adrian Akau said...

From what I have read, useful production of energy from hot fusion is decades into the future. I think our government should provide funding for low temperature reactions and; for example, fusion reactions using sound.

If you recall, a few years ago Keanu Reeves stared in a movie on producing fusion using sound waves. Although it may have been fiction then, it seems that verification from scientists have shown that it is now becoming a reality.

The problem is that most scientist do not recognize other forms of fusion as valid. This should not come as a surprise since it took over a hundred years for Galileo's sun-centerd theory to be accepted by scientists of his time. It also took half a century before scientists stopped laughing at Alfred Wegner's theory on the motion of continents which we today recognize as the science of plate techtonics.

Sometimes scientist know so much that it is hard for them to learn more, especially if it means a change in thinking. Try reading the book "Science is a Sacred Cow".


11:18 pm, July 27, 2005  
Blogger erich said...

Here's the latest news on bubble fusion:

Is bubble fusion back? (July 2005) - News - PhysicsWeb


6:54 pm, July 28, 2005  
Anonymous Panasonic Plasma Television said...

Yes, but when will there be a commercial fusion reactor?

5:25 pm, September 12, 2006  

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