Fusion News, May 2016
Matt Moynihan - April 29, 2016
A congressional hearing on fusion, a new polywell thesis, DIY polywell project and an attempt to connect all the approaches.
Some Quick Fusion News - May 2016:
Congress Holds A Fusion Hearing:
On April 20th, the Subcommittee On Energy for the House of Representatives’ Committee on Space Science and Technology is holding a hearing. They are going to be talking about US fusion research. Like all things in Washington – it is split down party lines. In fact, the Democrats and the Republicans made the announcement on separate websites. Wow. They have asked Dr. Scott Hsu to speak before the committee. Dr. Hsu is a Los Alamos researcher who had a big hand in developing the Plasma Liner Experiment. He also won an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) award for that fusion work, last year.
Funding fusion has always had some political components in it. When ARPA-E decided to pay for fusion, it rattled some cages in Washington. Rumor has it, that folks at the Department Of Energy were pretty upset. Funding cannot come from another agency. This hearing is a sign that Congress is considering changing the way we do this funding. Representative Alan Grayson is part of this committee; I wrote him a letter at the beginning of this year. In the letter, I lay out what I think the US needs to do to push fusion research forward.
A New Polywell Thesis Published
The Polywell research continues along at a trickle. In January, Dr. Scott Cornish published a doctoral thesis on the polywell. Above, are some choice pictures from of Dr.Cornish’s work. This is the second doctoral thesis – ever – on this topic. It came from Dr. Joe Khachans’ group at the University of Sydney. This group has made major contributions to our understanding of these machines and concepts. Unfortunately, they have been hamstrung by funding. The group funded everything on a shoestring budget (tens of thousands of dollars over ~6 years). Still, you can answer key physical questions with crappy equipment. The Wright brother’s first flyer was bits of wood and cloth thrown together on a limited budget.
High School Students Launch DIY Polywell
Jeremy Adams and Dane Andrews are two high school students living in Chicago. They are both Juniors. Last year they started working on a DIY polywell. These guys were not novices - both had achieved fusion with a working fusor. The polywell concept was an intriguing extension. Over the summer, the pair raised $2,021 on kickstarter to build their own small device. They recently launched a new website, devoted to the project. These intrepid young men are messing with the simulations, the models and the machine needed; in their own garage. Above, is the polywell that they had 3D printed for this effort.
Compiling Fusion Approaches
Putting together all the fusion concepts is seemingly endless task. I threw together the chart above for the general public; the machines are highlighted in blue. This chart is still not done. I still get emails from people picking it apart. Some researchers - whom I respect - have attempted this task the past. In 2004, Dr. Simon Woodruff wrote “An Overview of Tokamak Alternatives in the US Fusion Program with the Aim of Fostering Concept Innovation”. Simon is a rarity in fusion. A fusion researcher who runs his own fusion company, outside Seattle. Woodruffs’ goal was to lay out all the fusion concepts. Another good compilation was prepared by Dr. Tomas Lindén Lindén is a researcher at the Helsinki Institute of Physics. He got interested in what he called: compact fusion reactors. These included Lockheeds’ concept, FRC,General Fusion, Tri Alpha Energy and the Polywell. You can watch his great talk on these machines at CERN last year. Compilations are really just trying to expand the conversation. Make the landscape more than just: ITER and NIF.