Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor. Edited by Ignas Galvelis, Supervising Director.

Last fall Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Fusion (LPP Fusion) Chief Scientist Eric Lerner was the featured speaker for the New York City Physics and Astronomy Meetup groups.  Fortunately, the event was captured on video and recently released as a YouTube video series named ”The New Race to Fusion.”  Mr. Lerner spoke to the assembled groups for over an hour on the current state of fusion research including his own.  He also touched on the background of several ongoing fusion efforts, as well as their best fusion results.  Most interesting were the comparisons made between these current outcomes and those of his own Focus Fusion-1 device.  Based on a result per dollar of investment metric, the LPP project is the leading contender to achieve a new sustainable green energy source.  The talk has been parsed into a playlist of six videos.

Part 1, “The Old Fusion Race,” reviews the leading government-backed efforts to use deuterium-tritium fuel. This fuel burns at the lowest temperature, but produces its energy in the form of neutrons, which greatly increases the expense of the devices. Mr. Lerner looks at and compares the results of the giant laser projects: the National Ignition Facility (NIF); the big tokamak projects including ITER, JET and EAST; and the biggest z-pinch, the Z-machine. He ends by starting to look at the “New Fusion Race” consisting of many privately funded efforts trying new approaches.

Part 2, “Aneutronic Fusion” looks at the leading projects attempting to achieve fusion energy using fuels that produce no neutrons.  Aneutronic Fusion holds the potential for generating clean energy far cheaper than any existing energy source.  Mr. Lerner compares the results from Tri-Alpha, EMC2’s Polywell, the PALS project and Helion. He leaves LPP Fusion’s own Focus Fusion effort for the next part in the series.

Part 3, “Focus Fusion: How Does It Work?” LPP Fusion Chief Scientist Eric Lerner explains the LPP Focus Fusion approach to getting cheap, clean, safe and unlimited energy.  An explanation of the pinch and formation of the plasmoid are covered.  Eric stresses that LPP Fusion is leveraging the natural behavior of plasmatic systems rather than working against these tendencies.

Part 4, “Fusion Race: Who’s Ahead” compares and ranks the results of all the world’s leading fusion efforts, using three objective yardsticks. Comparing the ratio of fusion energy out to total energy into the device, LPP Fusion’s, $5-million-dollar Focus Fusion-1 (FF-1) device comes in a close second to the largest functioning tokamak device, the Joint European Torus (JET), which has cost nearly a thousand times more. While JET leads FF-1 by only 50% in wall plug efficiency, FF-1 is a factor of 80 ahead of the multi-billion dollar National Ignition Facility (NIF) by the same measure. As noted earlier, FF-1 ranks first in the world in efficiency per dollar invested.  FF-1 boasts 100 times more ”bang for the buck” than the second-ranked Z-machine of Sandia Labs, and 1,000 times more than JET.

Part 5, “Focus Fusion Next Steps” describes the next steps the LPP Fusion research team is taking to improve the performance of the Focus Fusion-1 device. Work done recently is being directed at eliminating impurities in the plasma using tungsten electrodes. Over the course of 2017, the team expects to shift to beryllium electrodes and then introduce the target fuel, hydrogen and boron.

Part 6, “Fusion Race Stats – 2017” additional charts and tables are shown to complete the comparison of investments and results of the world’s leading fusion efforts.