Sonofusion is a process where you use sound energy to create bubbles in heavy water. When the bubbles collapse they create a zone of very high temperature and pressure right in the center of the collapsing bubble. High enough for fusion. They have actually demonstrated this. Heavy water is Oxygen plus two deuterium atoms instead of two normal hydrogen. So they could see the neutrons produced when the deuterium fuse. Deuterium by itself doesn’t produce much energy, but it is easily available and produces a telltale signature when it fuses so it’s a commonly used diagnostic isotope. That’s what Eric used in the Texas A&M experiments.
Sonofusion is further away from breakeven than we are, but it is nonetheless a very exciting alternative. One interesting thing is that sonofusion makes use of natural instabilities to produce bursts of fusion just like focus fusion. Unlike tokomak which tries to create a stable, continuous process. If they can tune up their system and reach breakeven they could produce power with heavy water that has deuterium and tritium, or regular water with hydrogen that has boron salts dissolved in it. One disadvantage of sonofusion is that they would have to generate electricity by generating heat to drive a steam turbine. Even if they used hydrogen-boron the charged particles would get absorbed by the water, and wouldn’t come out as a beam of electricity like they do in focus fusion.
As far as combining the two I don’t see how it could be done. Sonofusion requires starting with a liquid while focus fusion requires starting with a diffuse gas. Even if you could do sonofusion with a gas or focus fusion with a liquid I don’t see how you would make the center of the collapsing bubble line up exactly with the collapsing magnetic plasmoid. The zone of fusion is only a few millionths of a meter across.
Eric, this did give me an idea though. Is there anything we could do to add energy to the plasmoid in addition to what it’s already getting? I’m thinking like if we can predict the location and timing of the plasmoid very precisely maybe we could hit it with lasers, or neutral beam injection? This would require more power so it might not help our breakeven story, but if we needed just a little more boost to get to the right temperature would this work? I know you want something simple so that it is cheap, but technology development sometimes takes the route through something complex that works before it can be made to work in its simplified form by lots and lots of engineering.