Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log has a new article up on Polywell Fusion.
You won't hear Rick Nebel talking about fusion as a challenge requiring billions of dollars and decades of experimentation. For the past couple of years, Nebel heads up a handful of researchers following the less-traveled path to fusion at EMC2 Fusion Development Corp. in Santa Fe, N.M. That path involves creating a high-voltage chamber to sling ions so energetically at each other that at least some of them fuse and release energy.Now that is a really different attitude from what has gone on in ITER. It was obvious to me a few years ago that the program was in trouble. But only in the last year have they admitted it by slipping the schedule by almost three years. So far.
EMC2 recently created a buzz in the fusion underground by reporting on its Web site that a series of experiments was able to "validate and extend" earlier results reported by the late physicist Robert Bussard. The company is now using a $7.9 million contract from the U.S. Navy to build a bigger test machine, known as WB-8. (WB stands for "Wiffle Ball," which refers to the shape of the machine's magnetic fields.)
What's more, Nebel and his colleagues are now seeking contributions to fund the development of what they say would be a 100-megawatt fusion plant - a "Phase 3" effort projected to cost $200 million and take four years.
"Successful Phase 3 marks the end of fossil fuels," the Web site proclaims.
Success isn't assured. The WB-8 experiment could conceivably show that the approach pioneered by Bussard, known as inertial electrostatic confinement fusion or IEC fusion, can't be scaled up to produce more power than it consumes. And if Nebel's team comes to that conclusion, he doesn't plan to pull any punches.
"No B.S. and no excuses," Nebel told me over the weekend. "If it looks like we have a problem with this, we're going to tell them."
You can read my earlier post on what I learned from EMC2 at WB-D which has some nice pictures of experiments and their proposed 100 MW device.
From time to time there are people reading here who need to be brought up to speed on fusion I'm reposting my usual: You can learn the basics of fusion energy by reading Principles of Fusion Energy: An Introduction to Fusion Energy for Students of Science and Engineering
Polywell is a little more complicated. 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.
And the best part? We Will Know In Two Years or less.
I'm a big fan of small fusion projects. Especially after hearing what Plasma Physicist and author of Principles of Plasma PhysicsDr. Nicholas Krall said, "We spent $15 billion dollars studying tokamaks and what we learned about them is that they are no damn good." And they seem really hard to build even. And who knows, if the Polywell experiments being done by the US Navy are successful the ITER project may just wind up as a big hole in the ground in France.
Cross Posted at Classical Values