Currently, I am a freshman at Stevens Institute of Technology. We have a class here that we are required to take called Engineering Experience in which we are required to go to 6 seminars on various facets of the engineering field, such as workplace ethics. At one point we were going to have a seminar on Tokamak fusion, but the person got sick and had to cancel. Would the FFS be willing to send someone here to give a talk on focus fusion? I think that reaching the college students here would be a very good thing, because there will probably be at least a couple here that will ask their parents to donate. On top of that, some of the next generation of engineers, doctors, researchers, and possibly lawyers would know about focus fusion, which could never hurt the cause.
Thanks! Great idea. Lectures at colleges and other venues is something we’d like to do more of. Where is this Stevens of which you speak?
It is in Hoboken, NJ. The website is http://www.stevens.edu/ and the Dean in charge of the Experience program is Keith Sheppard.
Sounds great. Eric would be happy to fit in a talk at Stevens. When could this be done? Turns out, this is where some of the key DPF work was done.
Hey, just checked out your bio. I see you’re aware of the Bostick Nardi connection.
Also, thanks for filling in the bio and adding an avatar. We must encourage more members to do this.
Finally: Music? Electronica? If you ever feel like adding some to FFS movie soundtracks (in development) – let me know.
I can check with the Dean at the start of next semester as to when the talk could be done. First on the checklist is to survive finals. 😛
Yeah, I basically read the majority of the posts on the website before joining. Always good to do research. 😀
So, did you survive finals, or are you now on the streets as a failed physics student? :bug:
I managed to survive them, thankfully. The semester started yesterday, and I am going to be sending the email to the Dean in charge of the experience stuff soon. Here’s for hoping that he likes the idea. 😀
LINKed up wrote: I managed to survive them, thankfully. The semester started yesterday, and I am going to be sending the email to the Dean in charge of the experience stuff soon. Here’s for hoping that he likes the idea. 😀
BTW, you don’t have to use nekked emoticons; the “Smileys” button to the left of the entry box provides a “laugh” image: 😆 And my favorite, :cheese: . Or you can type, e.g., colon-lol-colon for the laugh– : lol : 😆
Below is a “layman’s summary” I wrote up early last year; feel free to borrow, plagarize, or excerpt in your presentation to the Dean: (continues next post)
There are a firm and associated non-profit society in New Jersey called, respectively, Lawrenceville Plasma Physics and Focus Fusion Society. They are dedicated to advancing and putting into play a revolutionary and incredibly cost-efficient energy source.
I have been following this for years, and now funding and progress have accelerated. I’ll walk you through my own understanding and projections of outcomes a bit first, and then you can get the data from their sites, directly.
The process is a form of what’s called Dense Plasma Focus fusion. It involves inducing a combination of elements to self-ignite by (usually) magnetic contraction. There are two main varieties: steady-state (as exemplified by the Bussard approach), and pulsed. This is the latter, and is vastly easier to sustain once established. Rather than, e.g., fusing Deuterium with (highly radioactive) Tritium (both very expensive and requiring elaborate handling), both are designed to master the much tougher but ‘aneutronic’ p-B (proton-boron) process, using ordinary stable elements (hydrogen and boron). The pulsed system does not have to manage and suppress turbulence, however, as the pulse duration is a microsecond or less.
The device itself consists of a ring of 8-16 cathode pins surrounding a tubular anode, all in about the size of your palm with fingers pointed upwards. It sits in a vacuum chamber full of hot decaborane (B10H14), which supplies both boron and hydrogen. A 45KV pulse is sent up the cathodes from a capacitor bank, producing a rolling ‘donut’ of charged gas which is drawn into the anode tube.
There, it coils into a twisted cord which is drawn down, kinking more and more until it knots into a sub-microscopic “plasmoid”, which implodes under the pressure of its own magnetic fields. A brief fusion event occurs, in which single protons (ionized hydrogen) fuse with B11 ions, producing C12 which immediately fissions into 3 He4 ions. A powerful electron beam exits the plasmoid in one direction, and helium ions in an opposing beam out the opening in the anode tube. The electrons are absorbed in the chamber gas, reheating it, and the helium ions pass out through a standard “solenoid” (wound copper wire tube), which experiences a huge pulse of induced current as it slows the ion beam. That current is fed back into the power control system, and fully recharges the capacitors.
About 40% additional energy is produced as hard X-rays. (This very low and manageable % is achieved by a new (patented) quantum process for limiting the “X-ray cooling” which normally squelches plasma fusion events.) These escape the core chamber and encounter a new (patented) shell of thousands of layers of foil(s), drained by a wiring grid. The X-ray photons impact the foils, gradually giving up all their energy as current. This current is drained off as the “profit” from the generator.
Output increases with pulsing frequency. The most manageable “sweet spot” seems to be around 330cps (Hertz), which produces a steady 5MW power supply. [With adequate fast electrode cooling technology, up to 25MW seems quite possible.] One of these generators can run a year on about 5 kilos or so of boron — a trivial amount. Fuel costs are negligible.
There is no radiation outside the housing, and it can be entered after about 9 hrs “cooling off” in complete safety. (There are a only few low-energy neutrons produced from reactions on the “statistical fringes” of the main p-B energy regime, so no troublesome long-lived radioisotopes are produced in the equipment, etc. The neutrons are trapped by a shell consisting of about 1 meter of water and a few cm. of B10.) There are no waste products, other than a small amount of garden-variety helium. Some fairly low-grade excess heat is produced, which can either be vented or used for local purposes (building heating, industrial processes, etc.)
It is critical to note here that this is NOT a “thermal cycle” heat engine like ALL other nuclear/fusion/fission processes. That is, it does not depend on generating heat to boil water (or other volatile fluid) to spin a turbine to generate electricity (at about 30% efficiency, typically). The comparable energy efficiency/recovery measure in FF is estimated at 80-95%, which accounts for much of its startling cost advantages.
Now, the economics.
A complete prefab generator and maintenance housing, about the size of a home garage, is expected to cost around $250,000, or possibly much less, in mass production. This is about 1/20 the cost of best current plant capital costs for generating installations (normally given as $/W; $1/W is an excellent number, typically; FF is $0.05/W!). Generators can be trucked and set up virtually anywhere, the only constraint being that there must be provision for real-time monitoring and control, and access a half-dozen days or so a year for refueling and component replacement/maintenance by engineers/technicians. Generators can either plug directly into existing grids, or be used as local power sources — e.g., by factories or buildings. Or ships. Or spacecraft.
Power pricing (with all amortization, fuel, maintenance etc. rolled in) for its output is estimated at ¼¢/KWH. That’s $0.0025. Again, about 1/20 of best current sourcing.
It is estimated that 10X current planetary power requirements could be sustained using local (on-planet) boron resources until approximately when the sun goes red giant in a gigayear or few.
This is “disruptive technology” with bells on.
Imagine yourself as a government or investor with $XXX,000,000 to put down on new power generation capacity OR operation/upgrade of existing plant. Which are you going to put your money into: (1) Technology which has suddenly been rendered obsolete by a 20+:1 cost disadvantage? Or (2) Scrapping the old and replacing it with the new ultra-economical alternative? Hint: if you choose (1), those who choose (2) will eat your lunch. And breakfast and dinner, too.
It can plausibly be argued that the prices of all human goods and services reflect roughly the amount of energy put into finding or building or growing and then bringing them from source to purchaser, whether that be gold or internet-delivered bits and bytes or arugula or beer or cars or …. Fuel, heat, movement, and so on are major components of those energy inputs. Reducing those costs by 95-98% will have a dramatic impact on human wealth, across the board. It will suddenly be readily possible to provide resources and life basics to billions who cannot now afford them. And the wealthier world will experience an explosion of benefits and choices which were impossible just yesterday.
Desalination, irrigating deserts (even southern California)? Trivial. Powering a nation/world of electric vehicles? Easy and essential. Huge expansion of space exploration, perhaps helped by building a Space Elevator or two? No problem. Elimination of pollution and contaminated soils and air? Cheap and straightforward.
Energy independence? Every town and neighborhood can have it if they want, for a song. Everywhere.
Nations and regimes battening on the Devil’s Excrement will be cut off above the knees. They will continue to have some markets for their oil, from a declining transportation/power requirement to continuing feedstock/lubricant needs, but may be lucky to get $10-15/bbl for their best product after a few years. Coal providers will experience an even steeper and more permanent decline, unless some innovative new clean uses for coal (raw material for immensely expanded nanotech?) are invented. Perhaps powdered and spread on top of the advancing Ice Caps for albedo reduction to slow or reverse their overdue advance?
And so on.
The crisis-concocting AGW-panic exploiters, AKA “climate alarmists”, will be homeless. Perhaps a special welfare fund will be established for them, including huge dedicated residential complexes [‘Terminal Confinement Homes For Disgraced Climatologists’] where frequent unannounced fire and Carbon Monoxide evacuations will be called to keep them excited and interested (not all drills; a certain minimum fatality rate to be ensured to sustain realism.)
Investment and resources were finally obtained (Nov. ’08) to immediately embark on a 2-yr scientific validation and proof-of-theory project (now under way), which would set up a 3-yr engineering and production-design phase, overlapping with the last year of research. Licensing for mass pre-fab generator production facilities will be made affordably available to all comers, everywhere. Probable time-to-market is thus 5-6 years, 2015 or before.
Hold onto your hat (and hopes for a sane and prosperous future).
Recent update: See October ’09 press release: http://tinyurl.com/FFPressRelease2009-Oct .
P.S. As mentioned on the sites, the major funding push was provided by the Abell Foundation, Inc., a rather interesting group originally set up to benefit Baltimore and environs. Their connection here is very far-sighted, of course, since FF would upgrade everyone’s living conditions, not just Baltimorians’.
I must add, of course, that many of the opinions in that write-up are my own, especially the snarky ones, and may well differ from those of the LPP principals and others here on the FFS site! :coolsmirk:
Awesome, thanks. I’ll sort through it and use what I think will help convince the Dean the most. Should I have him contact Eric directly?
LINKed up wrote: Awesome, thanks. I’ll sort through it and use what I think will help convince the Dean the most. Should I have him contact Eric directly?
Check with Rezwan first; she’s on the spot and knows what to do. She runs this site; Eric runs LPP.
Please consider making a video of the lecture'(s) if any. It could benefit other people as well.
I’m thinking “podcast”. How do we set one up? Then we could also have guest speakers and mini-lectures and – oh, songs. Who knows.