Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fusion Report 20 October 2008

Alan Boyle brings us up to date on the latest news from the world of fusion. Of course I'm especially interested in what he has to say about Bussard Fusion and their progress to net power. I'll give you the short version:

"We've been pretty busy, but it's the same situation," Nebel told me today. "We're kind of in a holding pattern."

He's been able to keep the five-person team together and "doing a few things" during this holding pattern. There have been some rumblings to the effect that EMC2's results have been encouraging enough to justify pressing forward, but Nebel has declined to make a prediction about the project's future.

Nebel worries about the same kind of budget limbo that the U.S. ITER team is worrying about, even though his budget is an order of magnitude lower. Among the factors on his mind are the change in the White House and the changes in economic circumstances.

"The thing that usually gets hit the hardest is what they call discretionary funding," Nebel said, "and that's what we're looking at here. That'd be the biggest fear everywhere."
So the news is the same as it was at the end of August. No news. Alan Boyle has more on fusion power in general and Bussard Fusion in particular. You can also read my previous Fusion Reports by following the links in: Fusion Report 29 August 2008.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


Big D said...

Well, that's disappointing... I guess it means that we can't expect any real solutions within the next few years.

In the interim, how's this for an idea?

Take the Hyperion reactor: http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/

To produce electricity from it, instead of piping high-pressure steam around, use this: http://www.johnsonems.com/jhtec.html

The end result should be a complete system that could almost fit inside a standard shipping crate, and produce 25MW+ for 10-15 years before refueling, cost little more than $25M, and can be operated remotely with very little in the way of active maintenance or inspection, and no need for nuclear engineers with years of expensive schooling to run it.

And, from the Navy's perspective (since they're the ones funding the polywell), it would by roughly the size of a LM-2500, and have roughly the same power output (only as electricity, whereas the gas turbine outputs shaft hp that would take losses if converted to electricity). And, if would require no fuel tanks at all, and only 1-2 refuelings (done by replacing the reactors outright) over the course of the ship's life.

99% said...

Big surprise. I guess it'll be another 6-9 months...