I was wondering if some kind of lithium isotope like lithium 6 or lithium 7 might ignite at a lower temperatue and/or pressure than the boron reaction. More than likely, lithium ignition would probably not be any easier than boron ignition. Plus, if I’m not mistaken, I think that the lithium reaction only kicks – out two alphas of lower energy than the greater energy produced by the boron reaction, am I not correct? Lerner probably still went with the right choice by choosing the pB11 reaction for optimum performance. But anyway, I’m still curious about hearing some feedback about the possibility of lithium as a fuel supplement. It sure seems more practical or likely than He 3, heavy actinides, blacklight process and other exotic ” out – of – the – box ” things I’ve done considered but discarded. Whatever it may take to try and get a fusion ” burn ” to take place a little easier.
Look up the term “Aneutronic Fusion” in Wikipedia. Very close to the beginning is a section called “Candidate Aneutronic Reactions” where it discusses all the pluses and minuses of the various aneutronic reactions.
It seems to me to be a very through and concice summary. It also reaches much the same conclusions as Mr Lerner. That
P-B11 is indeed the Holy Grail of fusion.
Sort of what I suspected. The three energetic alphas from pB11 reaction still seems the best candidate for getting far more energy out than in.
My contemplation of various hybrid fuel mixes seems to go nowhere. Somebody once mentioned adding bismuth as a fusion catalyst. But such larger atoms would probably only cause too much X – ray loss and cooling. If any assist is to work, it has to be a small atom without too many nuclear protons (so as to minimize X – ray loss). But boron still seems to be the best compromise for a slightly larger atom with 5 protons, but forms 3 energetic alphas.
What about Carbon-12? It is already an intermediate product in the reaction. What does additional carbon in the soup do?
Jolly Roger :
I have often asked the same question about carbon 12. So has belbear……and he got an explanation by Lerner already that the hydrogen – boron 11 reaction produces a type of very shortlived carbon 12 that is highly excited with extra energy and therefore highly unstable……and then fissions into three highly energetic alphas.
However, I have already brought up the suggestion in other posts already that there may be some other as yet undiscovered way to make ordinary common garden variety carbon 12 go unstable and break apart. You would certainly get many millions of times more energy out of a lump of coal this way than with conventional burning at a coal – fired generating plant.
One of my suggestions that I’ve already made somewhere in one of the other posts is that perhaps you could bombard a carbon nucleus with some kind of exotic subatomic particle that would act as a catalyst for the nuclear reaction. I have also suggested the possibility of perhaps anti – matter assisted fusion. What if an a particle such as an anti – proton reacted with the ordinary matter of the carbon atom ? Some of the nucleus would be annhiliated as pure energy. The remainder might be excited and pumped full of enough energy to break apart into energetic fragments.
The only problem with my highly speculative idea is that nobody has yet figured out how to mass produce sufficient quantities of exotic particles such as anti – matter for experimentation. But anti – matter assisted fission to break apart the C 12 nucleus is one possibility.
But I’m not too sure about injecting C 12 into the FF reactor. When it comes to X – ray emission cooling of the plasma, how much a particular atom emits is the square of the number of protons. So with boron it’s only 5 X 5 = 25 times, or the x – ray cooling equivalent of only 25 hydrogen atoms consisting of a single proton. But with carbon, you would have atomic number 6 X 6 = 36 times more X – ray emission losses than a hydrogen atom from the plasma you’re trying to heat.
That’s another reason I gave – up the other preposterous idea I had of trying to have a hybrid fission / fusion reactor like as in an H – Bomb. It works great for a thermonuclear hydrogen bomb, where a plutonium bomb supplies the energy to initiate fusion, but the physics is totally incompatible with focus fusion. Not only is it virtually impossible to get thorium or plutonium or whatever else that is employed to undergo fission in the FF reactor…… as a way to further heat the plasma……the contamination of such high atomic numbers in the plasma would more than likely sap it of energy……rather than supply more of it. Nice open – minded thinking outside the box, but not very easy or probable.
However, in large massive stars that are more massive than the sun, and burn more furiously at temperatures of 10 billion degrees or more, you do have such a thing as the carbon cycle. In this cycle, carbon absorbs a hydrogen proton to become a nitrogen. Then it absorbs a second proton to become an oxygen atom. The over – excited oxygen with too much energy to remain stable then fissions into a carbon and a highly energetic alpha particle of helium. The carbon then begins the cyclic process anew.
However, this carbon cycle is probably not as good as the p – B11 nuclear reaction. Because the plasma has to be heated much higher to 10 billion degrees (focus fusion p – B11 starts to happen at only one billion) or more, you have to put much more energy into it. And you have to pump more protons into the carbon cycle before it finally produces a single energetic alpha particle. Whereas p – B11 still produces three highly energetic alphas at the much lower temperature.
Now that we have side – tracked away from the topic of lithium to carbon, I’d like to make another comment about the lithium :
Jimmy T stated that :
Look up the term ” Aneutronic Fusion ” in Wikepedia. Very close to the beginning is a section called ” Candidate Aneutronic Reactions ” where it discusses all the pluses and minuses of the various aneutronic reactions. It seems to me to be a very concise summary. It also reaches much the same conclusions as Mr. Lerner. That p – B11 is indeed the Holy Grail of fusion
Jimmy T, no one can deny that p – B11 is indeed by far the best candidate and Holy Grail of fusion. But I was thinking more along the lines of something that would NOT be a total substitute for hydrogen – boron11, but a partial supplement to it……something that would undergo ignition at far lower temperature……additionally preheat the plasma ahead of time……more than the electric power supply alone can provide……to help give the p – B11 reaction an extra energy boost. Which may be workable, or may not be.
Small atoms of low atomic numbers seem like a far more likely candidate than the preposterous idea I had for giving p – B11 an extra boost with highly improbable heavy atom fission such as thorium, uranium, americium, and etc. which would not only be hard to get to fission, but sap the plasma of thermal energy rather than add to it.
Jolly Roger :
Bouncing back to the subject of the carbon atom you mentioned earlier, another possible way you might get ordinary garden variety C 12 to go unstable and break apart is by photo – fission (instead of being able to use neutrons like you can with certain isotopes of heavy atoms, carbon absorbs more neutrons than it emits, causing the chain reaction to wind down to a stop. Trying to fission carbon with neutrons is like trying to burn wet wood soaked with lots of water). With photo – fission, absorption of a highly energetic photon is used to excite atoms enough to destabilize them. However, this requires a highly energetic gamma ray, and I don’t know if you could ever get more energy out by the E = MC2 mass conversion…… than the amount of energy it takes to produce the high energy gamma ray necessary to break carbon apart.
Jolly Roger :
Perhaps if the gamma ray was specifically fine – tuned to react with the carbon nucleus. A frequency or wavelength that works well with one type of atomic nucleus may not work well for another. I know this is getting a little off the subject of the lithium, but I hope this helps provide some extra food for thought about the C 12 question.
I think it was belbear who first got me thinking about carbon, when he asked Lerner about this same question. I have also thought about the possibility of an exotic particle of antimatter or something of that sort which might act as a catalyst to excite and destabilize ordinary carbon – 12. You would certainly get a lot more energy from a lump of coal this way than conventional coal – fired plants ! ! ! But such an idea to excite and destabilize ordinary garden variety carbon will still require some kind of new breakthrough discovery we still don’t have yet.
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