Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fusion - False Alarm

I have good news: Navy funds experiment. Official confirmation to follow in the coming weeks. Updated: 26 Aug 007 1040z.

It turns out California To Fund Bussard Fusion is a false alarm:

Here is Joe Strout's comment at Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:09 pm at Talk Polywell.

UPDATE: I got a call back from Bill Maile in the Governor's office. He spoke with the Governor's policy advisors, and in brief, the story is false. This is the first anyone in the Governor's office has even heard of the idea.

He is going to do some research to try and find out the source of the story. Hopefully he'll have better luck reaching somebody at nextenergynews than I have; the site lists no name or phone number, and is registered through But maybe a Governor's office carries enough weight to shake loose some real contact information from them. We'll see... He promised to call me again within two hours, and when he does, I'll let you know what he found.
This is very disappointing. However it does raise the visibility of the effort and has gotten some exposure at the Governator's office. It is possible that this may have some good fall out. It is starting to reach political circles. Well, I loved the buzz while it lasted.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers


Snake Oil Baron said...

Bummer. I think I was just beginning to understand what going on inside this thing and why it was clever. I suspect that someone will pick up on it. If SETI can be rescued from the gallows without having succeeded in anything, surely a working fusion system can find funding.

So the proponents of this technology are fairly confident in its ability to not just make net power but make enough of it to make these things economical to build? Even with today's superconductor magnets that need to be cooled?

M. Simon said...


If the experiments proposed work out, net power should not be too difficult. The first step is getting funding for the experiments.

The big draw is that a "no fuel" 100 MW to 1,000 MW reactor could be built for about the cost (or less) of a similar gas turbine combined cycle plant i.e. about a $1 a watt. Plus no thermal cycle.

The amount of machining required should be much less. The amount of material required should be much less. The only rotating components are the turbo pumps and the coolant pumps (H2O, LN2, LHe).

Gaby de Wilde said...

O dear, I guess you also had to explain what fusion was? The probably think it has something with Disco and rock?


Cormac said...

I sent Tom Ligon (worked with Bussard on WB6 etc.) an e-mail about confirmation of the story and here's what he said:

I have not done so personally, but others on a couple of websites I frequent have apparently determined that this is a false report.


Was he talking about this blog? :)

@snake oil baron
As far as I know (and this isn't much) the most expensive thing on Bussard's proposed $200million price tag for the reactor developement would be the superconductors for the magnets. Once it's developed each subsequent reactor will be cheaper obviously (all hail mass production!). The reactors are relatively simple and won't generate neutrons so the reactor parts won't become irradiated and have their surfaces ablated. In theory it will be far more robust than ITER and other Deuterium-Tritium (D-T) reactors, and also more economical... theory.

M. Simon said...


Let me just say that Tom and I are in very frequent contact.

Joe Strout of "Talk Polywell" busted the purveyors of this story with a call to the Governators office.

LarryD said...

Well, it would be a better investment then ESCs.

Unfortunately, I don't see a congruence of interests to support funding of Bussard's research.

Maybe a Presidential candidate will latch onto it as part of an energy policy.

adearthic said...

I wote the Govenors office requesting confirmation, and got this patronising response...

"Thank you for writing Governor Schwarzenegger and sharing your proposal.
The Governor appreciates hearing from people who care about cleaner, more efficient energy consumption in our great state. Governor Schwarzenegger is honored that you would write him.

Combating global climate change depends on innovative people like you who are willing to take the initiative to develop new ideas and concepts. You are also welcome to share your ideas with the California Energy Commission, which can be contacted directly at:

California Energy Commission
Media and Public Communications Office
1516 Ninth Street, MS-29
Sacramento, California 95814-5512
(916) 654-4287

Again, thank you for writing Governor Schwarzenegger. The Governor truly appreciates your personal commitment to the future of the Golden State.


Office of Constituent Affairs"

M. Simon said...


Note the update at the top of the post.