Thursday, January 10, 2008

WB-7 First Plasma

MSNBC Reports first plasma on the WB-7 Reactor.

Bussard's mantle has been picked up by a small team led by Richard Nebel, who has taken a leave from Los Alamos National Laboratory to head up Bussard's EMC2 Fusion Development Corp. Backed by a Navy contract, Nebel's five-person team is trying to pick up the technology where Bussard left it.

"What's there is interesting, OK?" Nebel told me today. "And the bottom line of it is, what we've been charged to do is reproduce that. Find out if it's real. Find out if or if not all this stuff is what it seems to be."

EMC2 Fusion has built an upgraded model of Bussard's last experimental plasma containment device, which was known as WB-6. (The WB stands for Wiffle Ball, a whimsical reference to the structure of the device.) "We got first plasma yesterday," Nebel said - but he and his colleagues in Santa Fe, N.M., still have a long way to get the WB-7 experiment up to the power levels Bussard was working with.

"We're not out trying to make a big splash on any of this stuff at this point," Nebel said. But he said he's hoping to find out by this spring whether or not Bussard's concept is worth pursuing with a larger demonstration project.

The initial analysis showed that Bussard's data on energy yields were consistent with expectations, Nebel said.

"We don't know for sure whether all that's right," he said, "but it'd be horrible for Mother Nature to give you what you expect to see, and have it all be bogus."
If you want to learn more about this technology may I suggest:

Bussard Fusion Reactor
Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion

If you want to get deeper into the technology visit:

IEC Fusion Technology blog

Start with the sidebar which has links to tutorials and other stuff.

Update: 09 May 008 2228z

Here is a good place to start for a history of the Bussard Fusion Project and a tutorial that will help understanding: The World's Simplest Fusion Reactor Revisited.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


Karridine said...

What a Revolutionizing development!

This sings in my heart, because I've meditated on the implications of cheap, limitless, democratic power, and your links lead to enabling such wealth for We, the People!

Look at that: the Promised One comes to humankind in 1853, and in the following 40 years declares the oneness of humankind and each human's duty to himself to investigate reality on his/her own; thus eliminating officially all ecclesiastical priesthoods and hierarchies and clearly democratizing the Faith of God...

So now the material world catches up. I love it!

/Good post, MSimon, good links!

Karridine said...

Cheap, plentiful access to power.

THAT was the connection I was striving to post just previously up there sorry 'bout that I'll watch my p's and q's...

Henrik R Clausen said...

Google has been promoting this cheap, clean nuclear power a bit, and I've checked the details (I know my way around nuclear physics) and passing on the link to people who should be interested.

I hope they get up to speed and build the thing. Could be an energy-supply miracle.

M. Simon said...

It will get built.

There is enough confidence as of today that raising venture capital should be no problem. If the government doesn't step in with gobs of money.

A Jacksonian said...

This is excellent news!

Unlike some of the things being done for energy (like the DeBeers process they bought from MIT), this promises to be relatively easy to understand, scalable and affordable.

We still have great need of transportable small energy sources for electronics, but that is secondary to low cost energy generation... luckily the market is going ahead on all fronts from the Polywell to nanotube based storage and higher temperature superconductors.

Now we just have to keep the place together long enough to get there.

Dan said...

This gives me the best case of warm fuzzies I've had since 9/11. Hope hope hope HOPE this pans out.

Now if someone would just hurry up and come out with a decent plug-in hybrid (saw that Saturn was coming out with the plug-in hybrid Vue in 2010, which looks interesting) then we can go about the business of bringing the Saudi oil ticks, the Iranians, and comrade Chavez low, all without having to fire a shot.

RavingDave said...

MSimon, The MSNBC article that you link to also contains some information about Dr. Cramer's work in reverse causality. A few years ago Dr. Cramer was evaluating the "Woodward Effect" otherwise called by Dr. Woodward
the "mach effect". I have long been interested in hearing your assesment of the "Woodward Effect." Sorry, if this is a bit off topic, but I wasn't sure where a better place to discuss this might be.


M. Simon said...


It seems very doubtful.

Rob said...

Not quite what I had been hoping for (and may I say, a number of us as well) -- i.e., confirmation that Bussard was right about WB-6 -- but good to know they are making progress in Los Alamos.

M. Simon said...


So far (early days yet) it confirms WB-6.

As the MSNBC article points out - full results in the spring. About when expected. Spring starts March 22. Figure 70 to 120 days.

Unknown said...

Looking good, looking very good. The google video was just so inspiring. I've even watched it in the bath, with the laptop balanced on some porcelain ;)

I really hope this is true - it's a deal changer if it is...

M. Simon said...

I have spent the last year and some studying the physics and engineering.

I'd say there is a 99% chance of making this work as a power generator.

And yes the video is inspiring. It is what got me going.


Henrik R Clausen said...

I forgot to mention one thing that (also) sounds almost too good to be true: The reactor can accelerate the decay of spent fuel from ordinary fission reactors.

How, you may wonder? Simple, actually. The electrostatic fusion reactor we're talking about here emits alpha radiation, lots of it. That can be brought to collide with the radioactive waste, mutating the nuclei into other isotopes, which have other and frequently much faster decay chains.

Investing some $200 million - or even $500 - looks like a very reasonable investment for something with such a potential. Even if it does turn out to be impractical, it's not been nearly as expensive to find out as it will be with ITER.

M. Simon said...


Good points. Let me add that I think a commitment of $.5 to $2 bn could get us a power producing reactor in 3 years.

That would include building 5 to 20 prototype and test reactors.

With decision points along the way so if there are unsolvable show stoppers we can scale the program back to just research.

Guy said...

Todd Rider punctured just about any "Fusor" type reactor in his critiques. I'm with everyone else in hoping this works, but the numbers don't look good.

M. Simon said...

The Guy,

Tod Rider didn't understand what he was talking about. Rostoker and Monkton refuted his position.

Rider made the classical mistake of dealing with a generalized case and thinking thermally. There is no general case in colliding beam reactors and they are not thermal machines.

In addition read his paper. esp the introduction. He was part of the tokamak war on Bussard because Dr. B. is going to kill their gravy train. We don't need ITER and we don't need 40 more years.

There are links to the Rider and Rostoker/Monkton papers here:

IEC Fusion Technology blog

Start with the sidebar which has links to tutorials and other stuff.

M. Simon said...

Rider states:

In virtually all cases, this minimum recirculating power is substantially larger than the fusion power, so barring the discovery of methods of recirculating the power at exceedingly high efficiencies, reactors employing plasmas not in thermodynamic equilibrium will not be able to produce net power.

He does have a point there. Dr. B has figured out how to recirculate that power at 99.999% or 99.9999% efficiency.

M. Simon said...

Rider's chief criticism is related to the recirculating power required in a colliding beam machine: "In virtually all cases, this minimum recirculating power is substantially larger than the fusion power, so barring the discovery of methods of recirculating the power at exceedingly high efficiencies, reactors employing plasmas not in thermodynamic equilibrium will not be able to produce net power". This is a very valid criticism and is acknowledged by Robert Bussard. However, Bussard claims that the discovery of what he terms the Wiffle Ball effect and by circulating electrons escaping from the Wiffle ball at high efficiencies he can get the total electron circulation efficiency into the 99.999% to 99.9999% range, making colling beam machines of his proposed design viable for power production. Experiments are currently under way (Jan. 2008) to test Dr. Bussard's ideas.

Unknown said...

As to Todd Rider's paper, even he admits (in Appendix E or F of his paper) that exotic reactor configurations can get around this problem.

Unknown said...

This is great!

Thanks for the link.

Unknown said...

Don't I wish that something I once wrote would get the play that Todd Rider's 1983-84 masters paper has!

I was more worried about Mr. Rider's paper BEFORE I realized it was written 11 to 12 years BEFORE Dr. Bussard had his Spring 2005 EUREKA moment that led directly to the WB-6 machine configuration and what he termed a very successful series of tests.

Dr. Bussard was one of the top rated nuclear physicists and Mr. Rider ranks where? Like Dr. Bussard would have said, I don't mean this evilly but where exactly does Mr. Rider rank in the physics world, I'd like to know. I'd like to be able to be able to determine who's opinion should have more weight on this matter.

M. Simon said...


We are in the fortunate position that the experiments will speak for themselves.