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FogerRox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-29-09 05:09 PM
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US funds Polywell Fusion as ITER bogs down
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This is part 3 of a 3 part series. Part one is here
& Part two is here If you like what you read please consider recommending all 3 parts, thanks. Roger Fox.

The giant donut shaped fusion rector being built in France, an international effort to harvest the energy of a star called ITER has been rethought, a slower more deliberative construction process has emerged, as cost go up and the completion date gets pushed back. All for something that'll be run for 500 seconds and shut down, fore ever.

All for something that I believe will never yield a watt of commercial generation.

Tokamaks became all the buzz after a Soviet breakthru in the late 1960's. In the US, Robert Hirsch became Director of the US Atomic Energy Commission, and picked Dr Robert Bussard as his number 2 man. Together the 2 men lobbied Congress for a US Tokamak program, as well as funding for other plasma/fusion projects.

Both men have since voiced their doubts on the commercial viability of the Tokamak design, Dr Bussard going as far as publicly saying the Tokamak wont work, and spending the last 15-16 years of his life working on an alternative to toridial fusion.

Originaly some 11 or 12 billion, 14 or 15 billion seems to be the number we hear today. I think an operational ITER will cost 25 billion by 2026.

Four years ago, ITER was priced at around 10 billion euros (13.8 billion dollars today), spread among its stakeholders, led by the EU, which has a 45-percent share.

ITER fusion experiment faces three-year delay

Fusion falters under soaring costs

Smaller reactor design for fusion may work in a "pinch"

This is a bad time for ITER proponents, I remember when we thought the Polwell was dead in the water. It was the pits.

The nadir for Polywell & Dr Bussard was in early 2006 when he was invited to make a tech talk at Google. Bussard's last test reactor had had a short circuit, he had to clean out the lab quickly as his contract had ended. All his equipment in storage, no job, a Phisyst on the lame, if you will, Bussard gave the talk at Google, and a video was posted of the talk.

An Enviromental group approached Dr Bussard with 3 million in VC, but they couldn't come to terms, it seemed like a year went by without any interest.

Then the Navy steps back in with 1.8 million bucks to build a new reactor just like the old reactor to see just what was going on on, before the experiment was cut short by the short circuit. Works starts with a core of followers on the internet following the project, most after finding Bussard's Google TechTalk video. Then Dr Bussard died, he had cancer.

So what do you do with a project that more resembles a vacuum tube from the days of radio, before even TV became popular, when all the experts are in their 80's or 90's? Well over at Los Alamos they decide they could spare a certain Dr Richard Nebel , Rick took over the team after Dr Bussards death and finished WB-7, adding lots of measuring instrumentation that there never was time for on WB-6. All that good test data went in front of a Navy peer review panel. And now Polwell has gotten the attention of the Obama Administration, and 2 years worth of contracts should keep the team at EMC2Fusion busy for a while.
Part 3 of a 3 part series on Polywell, Part one in here,
Part two is here.

In 2 years Dr Nebel says he'll know if Polywell will work on a large scale. At that point he wants to build a net power Proton Boron-11 fusion reactor. If Polwell works, great, it'll replace coal plants. All of them. Fission nukes? Yep. A one way trip to Mars in a QED Polywell ship: 38 days. And lots of electric cars.

Top Polywell Comments from last week:

Paul Goodman:

Do you mind if I don't hold my breath?


Dr Bussard is awesome.
For a tour de force presentation of detailed scientific exposition, you can't beat the video below which I saw referenced in your previous diary and thought worth touting again. This is Dr. Bussard speaking to a group of Google people about fusion and Polywell. What a ride! He delves into wizard like insights about some on the edge physical processes. It's one and a half hours, but worth the journey to a realm most of us never go.

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