I just ran across an article on the proliferation risks of fusion and a few paragraphs caught my eye.
Some proponents of nuclear fusion power falsely claim that it would pose no risk of contributing to weapons proliferation. In fact, there are several risks including the use of tritium as a fusion power fuel which raises the risk of its diversion for use in boosted nuclear weapons, or, more importantly, the use of fusion reactors to irradiate uranium to produce plutonium or to irradiate thorium-232 to produce uranium-233.The device he mentions is a Dense Plasma Focus fusion generator.
Fusion power has yet to generate a single Watt of useful electricity but it has already contributed to proliferation problems. According to Khidhir Hamza, a senior nuclear scientist involved in Iraq's weapons program in the 1980s: "Iraq took full advantage of the IAEA's recommendation in the mid 1980s to start a plasma physics program for "peaceful" fusion research. We thought that buying a plasma focus device ... would provide an excellent cover for buying and learning about fast electronics technology, which could be used to trigger atomic bombs."
A dense plasma focus (DPF) is a plasma machine that produces, by electromagnetic acceleration and compression, short-lived plasma that is so hot and dense that it becomes a copious multi-radiation source. It was invented in the early 1960s by J.W. Mather and also independently by N.V. Filippov. The electromagnetic compression of a plasma is called a "pinch".So where is the fusion?
Intense bursts of X-rays and charged particles are emitted, as are nuclear fusion neutrons, when operated in deuterium. There is ongoing research that demonstrates potential applications as a soft X-ray source for next-generation microelectronics lithography, surface micromachining, pulsed X-ray and neutron source for medical and security inspection applications and materials modification, among others.OK. So just as the article on Saddam's program stated. It is a good device for checking out electronics for a bomb program.
For nuclear weapons applications, dense plasma focus devices can be used as an external neutron source. Other applications include simulation of nuclear explosions (for testing of the electronic equipment) and a short and intense neutron source useful for non-contact discovery or inspection of nuclear materials (uranium, plutonium).
You can read more about it in:
Saddam's Bombmaker: The Daring Escape of the Man Who Built Iraq's Secret Weapon
Which may not be an entirely reliable source.
So what are the odds of a Dense Plasma Focus device generating power any time soon? The device has a couple of problems. In 20 years of research no one has figured out how to reduce the losses sufficiently and because the experiments pulse Mega Amps of current into relatively small devices, electrode erosion is going to be a severe problem. The 20 year deal is significant because small Dense Plasma Focus devices have plasma characteristics very similar (+/- 10%) to large devices.
I still like Polywell.
You can learn more about Polywell and its potential at: Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained
The American Thinker has a good article up with the basics.
Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been fully funded by the Obama administration?
Cross Posted at Classical Values