Voice of America Persian TV Fusion Episode

Posted by Rezwan Razani on Apr 10, 2012 at 04:08 PM
What do you think about this? Let us know in the comments below!

In light of the upcoming nuclear talks between the US and Iran, VOA’s “Ofogh” program invited Eric Lerner and me to talk about fusion and peace.  We appear 22 minutes into the broadcast.

How This Came About:  Fusion For Peace

Eric Lerner, a scientist pursuing aneutronic fusion via the Dense Plasma Focus (“DPF”), began the “Fusion For Peace”  initiative, proposing that Iranian and American scientists pursue a joint project to explore the fusion capabilities of the Dense Plasma Focus.

The idea is to make a formal proposal to both governments for a joint project to fund their work.  It would also work as a vehicle to help ease tensions in the nuclear escalation going on so it could have diplomatic value.

Derek Shannon set up the website and petitions.  It got some great press and an invitation from Ofogh

Iran’s Fusion Program

Background information on Iran’s fusion program (source: email from Dr. Habibi of AmirKabir University):

As you know, the experimental works on large scale fusion devices, like advanced TOKAMAKS , Stellarators, etc. are very expensive. Therefore we arranged some experiments on small scale devices and also some theoretical studies as below:

  • Simulation, design and construction of miniature plasma focus devices (low than 5 Joule energy) with frequency performance (Up to 10 Hz).
  • Theory of capability of advanced fusion fuels (like P-B) as a future solution of energy source.
  • Simulation of fusion plasma interacting with the first wall and blanket.
  • Experiments on advanced material irradiated with fusion plasma by dense plasma focus devices.
  • Theory of other fusion concepts like IECF and experiments on its neutron production as a continuous neutron source.
  • Theory of important parameters to improve the performance of plasma focus devices as cost efficient energy source and radio-isotope source.
  • theory of instabilities in dense plasmas like ICF and plasma focus.

Our lab in amirkabir university is [one of] the best labs in iran and we can plan the road map of fusion activities. Also about 60 researchers are involved in the goals which is presented in my email. We have about 150 Msc fusion grad students and also some PhD fusion students. Some of our student are very active and illustrious, but unfortionately they can’t [due to visa/sanctions issues] cooperate with other countries in joint fusion projects like ITER and etc. at the moment construction of advanced tokamaks, research on large scale DPF, IECF performance and miniature PFs are the main fusion activities and I think we can cooperate with scientists in other countries.

I think the conventional DPFs with some kJ energy can not result to cost effective energy and some important problems like intense bremsstrahlung losses and troublesome conditions to increase the ion temperature and not the electron temperatures will be solved. But in general I think PB fuel can yield commercial energy with some modifications and some extensive theoretical and experimental works ( like Dr. Lerner’s team).

My Role

I was on the show in support of the Fusion for Peace proposal, to note that while there are no guarantees, there is a great upside for fusion and even more for aneutronic fusion

I was also there to provide context.  To this end, I noted that there are many roads to fusion and fission that are underfunded, many nuclear options that don’t involve enrichment (“qani sAzi”) that could make the nuclear weapons issue moot.  I advocated a parallel approach and much more investment in all good nuclear power.  I talked about the Alcator CMod struggle as well as the Levitated dipole.  Also that the Chinese are pulling ahead in fusion and fission (pebble bed and thorium reactors).  And that Bill Gates is a big traveling wave reactor fan (fission). 

The goal was:


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Awesome job, Rezwan!  They were very wise to make you the thumbnail cheese


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