Thursday, January 17, 2008

Contact Your Congress Critter

It is election season again. The time when the Congress Critters are most responsive to citizens. As most of you know by now Dr. Bussard's latest Fusion Power experiment, WB-7 First Plasma, is so far showing encouraging results.

It is time to get Congress and the President thinking about this so that if final results are positive (I expect they will be) Congress will be ready to belly up to the bar and make a power producing reactor happen as fast as possible. Now you can contact them by e-mail, fax, letter, or phone. Phone is best for the initial contact because it insures a human response. Tell them if they get with the program we can have a working fusion reactor in as little as three years. To do that they are going to have to Manhattanize the project. A full up scientific and industrial effort.

Here is contact info for the government:

House of Representatives

The Senate

The President

Light up their tails.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

20 comments:

LarryD said...

A "Manhattan Project" might trim a few years off of deployment of power reactors, but it will increase the probability of bad design decisions by a lot.

And the probability of massive pork will be 100%.

I want this to be funded. I fear the consequences of over-funding and rushing.

The original Manhattan Project developed two bombs which were critical in ending the war with Japan without further massive loss of life. A crash project made sense.

But we need reliable, safe, and cheap power reactors, and deploying them will take decades regardless. Just replacing (or duplicating) our coal-fired capacity means installing around 335 gigawatts of capacity. And there will be the "little" issue of what happens to the coal miners.

The infrastructure for purifying Boron 11 is going to have to expand tremendously.

And I'm sure there will be political opposition from the environmental crowd, though I don't know what pretext they'll come up with. Focusing the political side on smashing them down will be more valuable than throwing excessive amounts of money on rushing to deployment.

M. Simon said...

larry,

I'm with Boyd and Patton on this one. A poor plan executed immediately will be better than a perfect plan 50 years hence.

After we get one working lots of people will be looking to make $$$ with improvements.

And yes. The cost in pork will at least double the price. Probably more like a factor of 10X. Given that the slow plan was 10 years and probably $2 bn total a fast plan of 3 years and $20 bn is not out of the question.

Given that replacing all the world's power generators is worth $5 trillion a year that is still not a bad return.

One also has to consider the morale boost. Civilization need not fear running out of energy.

And it will make space accessible. Another morale boost.

M. Simon said...

As to the rest of your points.

The transition will not be instantaneous.

Moving fast will help smash them down.

We could start off selling them to the Chinese and Indians. That should remove some enviro opposition.

LarryD said...

A poor plan executed immediately will be better than a perfect plan 50 years hence.

Only if the immediately executed plan succeeds.

Given that the slow plan was 10 years and probably $2 bn total a fast plan of 3 years and $20 bn is not out of the question.

I don't think it can be done in three years, not successfully. I am sure that the government can crate a massive, expensive, spectacular failure in three years though. And such a failure could, most likely would, be used to propagandize against the technology by everyone whose interests or agenda it would threaten.

After we get one working lots of people will be looking to make $$$ with improvements.

If they are permitted to. If Congress and the bureaucracy blesses the first design and ignores any others (how many designs has NRC approved?) we'll be stuck with the prototype.

We could start off selling them to the Chinese and Indians. That should remove some enviro opposition.

Many of the enviro leadership are ex-communists. It's a movement they manipulate to hobble, if not strangle, us. Anything that strengthens us, they will oppose. They don't really give a damn about either the enviroment or the climate.

M. Simon said...

Larry,

I know what is involved in overcoming the problems. I am considered one of the top engineers in the nation on this. (people tell me that all the time who have studied my work).

With luck it could be done in 2 years with a 24/7 schedule and unlimited budget. Three is almost a certainty.

Once the first one works - if we don't produce it - some one will steal the design.

If nothing else the Navy wants to get off oil. This will allow it to do that for smaller ships. It would also like less dangerous reactors for its aircraft carriers.

If no one else gets these the military will.

Get over your fears.

kurt said...

It seems premature to contact congress about this until we hear positive confirmation of the WB7 experiments.

Any idea of when the WB7 experiments will be completed and the review conducted

M. Simon said...

Kurt,

The purpose of contacting Congress now is to educate them so delays are minimized.

We will know in 60 to 120 days.

Someone said...

See the news today the US is delaying funding for ITER? Things that make you go hmm...

M. Simon said...

Someone,

Yes. I saw the news. DOE has been holding back the Bussard research for years.

IMO this is their just punishment.

In another article on the subject a DOE guy kept repeating it was "the will of the people".

The Will of the People

I think he got the message. He can't say what it was out loud, but I'm sure it is being whispered around the DOE offices.

The fact that DOE was suppressing it is a sure sign it holds promise.

kurt said...

M. Simon,

Please correct me if I am wrong.

We will know if the WB-7 are successful within the next 3-4 month. If successful, this means that Dr. Bussard's Polywell idea is for real and the next step is to build the full-sized reactor (the one that is supposed to cost $150-$200 million). Is this correct?

M. Simon said...

Kurt,

Yes.

Although I'd like to see a lot more than $400 million put into the project. I'd like to see at least $2 bn and maybe $20 bn so we could use the extra $$ to jump to the head of the line in the industrial que and build 5 to 20 test reactors and operate everything 24/7 to speed things along. Crash programs require a lot of waste. Given that there is a war on and that this could starve our enemies I think it would be worth it.

Aaron McEvoy said...

If I've learned anything about what the government thinks of IEC, it is 'not much'. And, while I am optimistic about the experimental results of WB-7, I find it hard to believe that they will be so profound as to warrant a significant increase in government funding.

As evidenced by the recent science funding cuts and the growing fears of economic recession, increased government spending on anything new, or rather 'old', is probably not going to be realized.

As I see it, any substantial interest in IEC fusion will come only from WB-7 achievement of break-even, which was never the intention of the project.

We must remember that, despite dropping out of ITER, tokamak fusion is what's on everyone's minds, not to mention the massive ICF undertaking at NIF. NIF and ITER have both promised break-even already and, regardless of the price tag, this is what 'we' have chosen to fund.

To you and I it may seem reasonable to expect some interest in IEC technology because we believe in it. Realistically, I think that we will have to be patient and continue flying under the radar until we really get it working.

Then, we'll stir up some excitement.

M. Simon said...

Aaron,

Read the Comments by Dr. Richard Nebel at the MSNBC link located at

WB-7 First Plasma

he thinks the public pressure brought by me and other bloggers (he names me personally as well as Tall Dave) helped drive the project forward. So you heard it from the horse's mouth.

WB-7 is not large enough to reach break even (as you point out) and was never designed to reach break even.

It is my considered opinion that "what we have chosen to fund" has changed due to the political pressure already brought to bear. Good. Congress is not stuck on stupid.

My contacts tell me it is not under the Congressional radar. My contacts tell me Congress has had to restrain themselves from pushing this faster than current results warrant.

None the less with more pressure I believe we can accelerate the program so that once WB-7 results green light further efforts we can move at Warp Speed.

Government really is pretty responsive in America when there is very little resistance. On this particular subject there is very little resistance.

The techno geeks are for it. People who want lower cost electricity are for it. Space enthusiasts are for it. Even environmentalists are mostly for it. One of the reasons is that it makes biofuels even cheaper. It produces no CO2.

So do me a personal favor. If you are for it, contact your Congress Critter now. Phone is the best. Tell them if WB-7 results are positive (get them to look at the MSNBC page) tell them you want a crash program. It is an election year. They want to do your bidding to get your vote. Give them the opportunity to do something for you that you care about.

What ever your motive - green - strangle the Arabs - anti-war - the continuation of civilization - cheap electricity - helping the 3rd world - space travel. Just do it.

Aaron McEvoy said...

I have already read your thread about WB-7 and of course it is very encouraging that Nebel and Co. did receive funding. It is truly unfortunate that Bussard was not around to see it.

Also, I am certain that Nebel and the EMC2 group will reproduce Bussard's final WB-6 results and perhaps improve upon them.

I do intend to contact my congressmen about this, and hopefully the WB-7 results will speak for themselves as well.

M. Simon said...

Aaron,

Thank you so much!!!

Dr. Bussard did find out the project was funded I got an e-mail from him (forwarded as I recall - it could have been direct - I'd have to look it up) in August saying the project was funded and that he was there for the opening of the office in Santa Fe. He died about 2 1/2 months later.

His family contacted me after the memorial service in Santa Fe to say that their fondest wish was to see their father's dreams realized so that the work he did could start benefiting humanity. I promised them I would make it my life's work to see the dream realized.

That is why I'm so relentless. I never met Dr. Bussard by I did get to talk to him for a few minutes on a blog radio show. Last April or May I think. I cried when he died. It was like losing a family member.

It is my fondest wish to do some engineering on the project or just sweep the floors.

Aaron McEvoy said...

I'm so glad he was around when they announced the funding decision!

I too am very interested in helping with this project or at least the IEC fusion concept. I am a physics graduate student in CO and my wife is actually from Santa Fe.

I am currently involved with the NIF effort at LLNL and I am trying to get in with the guys at LANL working on POPS. Most of all though, I would very much like to speak with Dr. Nebel about this effort and see if there might be some chance for involvement.

Have you had contact with Dr. Nebel such that you might be able to put me in touch with him?

M. Simon said...

Aaron,

Contact me by e-mail so we can conduct a more private discussion.

My e-mail is on the sidebar.

kurt said...

M. Simon,

Success with WB-7 this spring will considerably reduce the technological risk associated with the polywell fusion (from the investor perspective).

If WB-7 is successful, would the development team consider licensing of this technology?

M. Simon said...

Kurt,

I couldn't say.

I have ways of finding out but the Drs. death was so recent I haven't wanted to bother the Bussard family who I assume own the patents.

If some one came up with serious money I could check on it. However, with the Navy on the hook for $200 mil over 5 years if WB-7 goes, I can't see any investors wanting to get in except as suppliers to the government.

I think becoming a supplier to the government would give an investor a leg up in eventual commercialization so that is the route I would expect to see.

Aaron McEvoy said...

Is there a formal agreement for the Navy to fund the project for $200m if WB-7 has promising results?