Friday, January 11, 2008

First plasma

I have written a number of times about Dr Bussard and his Fusor fusion reactor.

There has been more good news in that area.
MSNBC Reports first plasma on the WB-7 Reactor.
Bussard's mantle has been picked up by a small team led by Richard Nebel, who has taken a leave from Los Alamos National Laboratory to head up Bussard's EMC2 Fusion Development Corp. Backed by a Navy contract, Nebel's five-person team is trying to pick up the technology where Bussard left it.

"What's there is interesting, OK?" Nebel told me today. "And the bottom line of it is, what we've been charged to do is reproduce that. Find out if it's real. Find out if or if not all this stuff is what it seems to be."

EMC2 Fusion has built an upgraded model of Bussard's last experimental plasma containment device, which was known as WB-6. (The WB stands for Wiffle Ball, a whimsical reference to the structure of the device.) "We got first plasma yesterday," Nebel said - but he and his colleagues in Santa Fe, N.M., still have a long way to get the WB-7 experiment up to the power levels Bussard was working with.

"We're not out trying to make a big splash on any of this stuff at this point," Nebel said. But he said he's hoping to find out by this spring whether or not Bussard's concept is worth pursuing with a larger demonstration project.

The initial analysis showed that Bussard's data on energy yields were consistent with expectations, Nebel said.

"We don't know for sure whether all that's right," he said, "but it'd be horrible for Mother Nature to give you what you expect to see, and have it all be bogus."

If you want to learn more about this technology may I suggest:

Bussard Fusion Reactor
Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion

If you want to get deeper into the technology visit:

IEC Fusion Technology blog

Excellent news, I think you'll agree.

As Roger Thornhill says,
They have achieved first plasma. The hope is to have full power tests in the Spring and then on to a full scale net energy producing unit.

Gore's face when that happens. I want a Gore-cam set up so we can see the moment his gravy train is shunted into the siding and lifted onto the flatbed headed for the scrap yard.

I am going to fucking laugh my fucking head off, I can tell you. And I shall also listen, with barely concealed hilarity, as the eco-loons attempt to think up some fucking excuse as to why we should abandon this particular affront to Gaia and go back to fucking Dark Ages.

What do you want to bet that they start using Spiderman 2 as a credible reference?


JR said...

Interesting! It sure would be nice to see some real success with fusion, finally.

Great quote from Roger Thornhill.

sniper said...

Let's hope it works. i would really like to see the Bronze Age Appreciation get the kicking they deserve.

Mark Wadsworth said...

I'd be delighted if it worked, but I'll believe it when I see it. If it's so brilliant how come nobody has snapped up the patent and gone into production?

Devil's Kitchen said...

The first reason, Mark, is that the patents already exist from way back in the 60s when a gentleman called Philo T Farnsworth (who is famous for inventing electronic television) first invented this process.

Second, and most pertinently, this is still experimental.

Third, it's funded by the US military.


Vasey said...

The news is promising but I'm not going to let myself get too excited about it just yet. There's still a lot of ground to cover and the move from experimental prototype to powering the national grid is huge in itself even if it does turn out to be A-OK and wonderful.

Still, it's good to hear of some success on this front. Fusion power has such immense potential.

Umbongo said...

If this is a success you can bet that Fattygore will be there claiming the credit and probably asking for some cash (or another Nobel Prize - this time for physics). Remember Al (according to Al) invented the internet.

anthonynorth said...

If this proves practical, and there's no waste, and no danger of radiation, and it can be produced and operated by smaller companies, providing cheap power, then it's a good idea.
If all this IS possible, then the answer as to why it isn't operatintg yet is simple. Big Biz would be afraid of it, as it would break up their power monopolies.

Cleanthes said...

" Big Biz would be afraid of it, as it would break up their power monopolies."

Quite: but it's not just big biz. The reason this was historically funded - on a small scale - by the US Navy is that it is in DIRECT competition with the HUGE budget Torus stuff funded by the dept of Energy. Any threat to that budget cause massive ructions - the US Navy more or less had to keep it under wraps for precisely that reason.

On a gloomier note, there is a question on where they get their fusion fuel from: they need quite a lot of esoteric isotopes and you still have a mining/refining energy consuming step before you can start to generate energy. This isn't a "Back to the Future" device running on banana skins and beer...

Devil's Kitchen said...


Point taken, but the most likely candidate for fuel is a deuterium-tritium combination; both of these isotopes are naturally occurring.


Roger Thornhill said...

IICR the Navy is funding it as a Bussard IEC reactor can fit into subs and warships and, given the right fuel, pretty safe, while a TOKOMAK, the toroidal, lithium clad neutron spewing cathedral-sized reactor does not.

AFAICT, the US Navy has justification for progressing this and keeps funding below the radar to stop it being stymied.

wildgoose said...

Esoteric isotopes? I thought it was Hydrogen-Boron fusion, both of which are freely available and non-radioactive. More to the point, you tap the ionised products of the fusion for electricity directly, so you don't have to mess around using heat by-products to power 19th Century style steam turbines to (eventually) generate electricity.

M. Simon said...

I wish I had seen this sooner. I would have thanked you earlier.

What is so amazing is that three countries have IEC fusion programs. Japan, Australia, and the USA.

The EU has all its eggs in the Tokamak camp. If the Bussard team pulls this off it is going to be one of the greatest scientific laffers of all time. The consensus mongers will be driven nuts.

M. Simon said...

Let me add that I'm intimately involved with an open source engineering project on the subject

IEC Fusion Technology blog.

and I think that with copious funding a grid connected reactor could be produced in 3 years and series production could be well established 3 years after that.

Assuming of course that current experiments green light further efforts.