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The Real MIT Fusion Announcement

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. This past week many mainstream media outlets devoted coverage to an announcement of a fusion research project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The MIT announcement highlighted an effort to develop a compact tokamak fusion reactor. The headline grabbing news was the prediction that this would yield electricity to the grid in 15 years. Much of this coverage positioned the announcement as possible due to some new novel scientific break-though. Let’s take a closer look. The tokamak device proposed by MIT is essentially the same design proposed by Russian scientists nearly 70 years ago. Tokamaks, invented in the 1950s by Soviet physicists Igor Tamm and Andrei Sakharov, grew from an original […]

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Animation Feature Producer Job Description

Date of advert: 4 March 2018, updated 1st of April Deadline: 3 June 2018 5pm (GMT) Interviews: mid-late June 2018 Job Title: Animation Feature Producer Location: UK (meetings in Bournemouth and London) Duration: to be discussed. Payment: per episode (see below). Details to be discussed. Overview: The Focus Fusion Society and Atul’s Earth are looking for an experienced Animation Feature Producer. Your role will be to project manage the production of the feature film, Minnie, from start to finish. Your experience will be invaluable in ensuring all contractual, budgetary, rights and other practical issues are considered and implemented in accordance with all relevant legislation. Your role will also be to integrate and implement solutions to the long term factors post-production […]

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Fusion Funding Cuts

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. A few weeks ago President Trump released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2019. This proposal carries cuts to many scientific programs. Programs under threat include several fusion research efforts. Cuts might delay ITER construction funding. Yet, smaller programs could feel the impact most. The University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), which houses one of the most powerful lasers in the US, has slammed what it calls “potentially devastating” budget cuts threatened by the Trump administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2019. University interim president designate Richard Feldman defending LLE released the following statement: The University was disappointed to learn that the Administration’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposes a significant […]

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The Drawbacks of ITER

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. Far and away the largest fusion project on earth is the ITER reactor under construction in France. An international slate of countries support this research effort with billions of euros. The timeline for development and testing of this facility stretches into the 2050s. As the king of fusion projects ITER draws widespread press coverage. But bigger isn’t always better. In an article published in February of 2018, fusion research physicist physicist Daniel Jassby lays out some drawbacks of the ITER project. Dr. Jassby outline four critiques of ITER: electricity consumption, tritium fuel losses, neutron activation, and cooling water demand. When operational ITER will consume as much electricity as a medium sized city. […]

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Renewable Energy in the Middle East

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. The School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP) at American University in Cairo (AUC) recently published an energy piece in their quarterly Cairo Review of Global Affairs. The article about renewable power sources was written by Jeffrey Ball, scholar in residence at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and a lecturer at Stanford Law School. The article posted last week here at focusfusion.org covered renewable energy trends in western Europe. Mr. Ball’s article extends that story to the Middle East and Northeast Africa (MENA). Here too, renewable energy is beginning to make a significant contribution to the regional energy demand. The article lays out the global trends for […]

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The Rise of Green Energy?

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. The About page of FocusFusion.org describes our group as “a grassroots campaign and educational organization, fighting to bring cheap green energy to all.” Of course the ultimate green energy would be aneutronic fusion like that being pursued by LPPFusion and other groups. However, while that pursuit is underway, there has been progress in the move away from traditional fossil fuel energy production. On April 30, 2017, Germany set a record by generating 85% of its electricity from renewable resources. This day was particularly windy and sunny. The power generated from solar and wind farms added to that from biomass and hydro plants summed up to 85% of the country’s demand. The remaining […]

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Laser Driven Fusion Explained

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. FocusFusion.org has featured several laser based fusion stories. This is another, but from a slightly different angle. A couple summers ago Dr. Kate Lancaster gave a presentation to the Royal Institute in London. Her talk covers laser basics, high energy laser interactions with matter and laser driven fusion. Fortunately this talk was captured on video and preserved on Youtube. Dr. Lancaster studies the use of lasers for inertial confinement fusion. The lecture begins by covering laser basics. She explains how laser light is generated and its unique characteristics. One interesting fact she shared is that the average home has three lasers. This contrasts with the sentiment right after discovery; that the laser […]

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Artificial Intelligence in Fusion Research

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. Prior FocusFusion.org posts covered the intersection between fusion research and artificial intelligence (AI). AI is likely to become more important to the advancement of fusion research. Recent reports highlight more projects bringing AI to bear on the challenge of viable fusion power generation. A December report provides insight into what researchers are calling a Fusion Recurrent Neural Network (FRNN). Scientists affiliated with Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are trying to craft a neural network that predicts failure of magnetic containment in tokamak fusion reactors. The common tokamak design in fusion research is prone to reactor damage if hot plasma escapes containment. Julian Kates-Harbeck is the lead architect for software that uses artificial […]

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Plasma Rings

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. Here at FocusFusion.org we love aneutronic fusion. Aneutronic fusion is fusion without neutrons. The same type being pursued by LPPFusion. Another effort in pursuit of aneutronic fusion is TAE. Formerly known as Tri-Alpha Energy, TAE recently made news by securing time on a national super computer. TAE intends to achieve usable aneutronic with the help of computer modeling and guidance. TAE calls its approach to fusion “Friendly Fusion” power. Their device, called a field reversed configuration, or FRC, generates two large rings of plasma and heats them with an externally accelerated ion beam. These rings collide generating fusion reactions between hydrogen and boron fuel constituents. The fusion fuel is controlled without magnets […]

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Laser Driven Fusion

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. LPPFusion has been working toward net energy gain from a hydrogen-boron fusion reactor. LPPFusion’s approach uses natural plasma instabilities to generate the high temperatures and densities necessary for fusion. They have already demonstrated world record ion temperatures in their device. New beryllium electrodes will allow them to tackle the needed densities. However, an Australian lead international team is approaching hydrogen-boron reactions driven by a completely different mechanism. Physicist Heinrich Hora plans to use picosecond laser pulses to initiate aneutronic fusion. Two prior Focus Fusion Society posts have discussed laser driven fusion. This Australian team seems to be inspired by the promising outlook from this earlier research. In fact, the Australian team has […]

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