ALL EXPERIMENTAL CONTROLLED-FUSION METHODS TO DATE

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
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Chris Bradley
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ALL EXPERIMENTAL CONTROLLED-FUSION METHODS TO DATE

Post by Chris Bradley » Sat May 02, 2009 8:26 am

I've been meaning to kick off this list for a while. As I've researched this subject to gain my own understanding of whether any practical solutions exist for fusion energy, I've come across so many experimental fusion attempts that all extant lists of fusion experiments seem hopelessly wanting and out of date. I hope that many of the ones below might be quite unknown to the reader (and might encourage further study and reading on them) as they don't appear to have been authored into any singular list before. There are vast swathes of literature and factoids to be found behind each and every one of these titles.

Enjoy!:


PIONEERS:

Beam-target (Oliphant, 1934)
Magneto-electrostatic toroid trap (ATOLL, Artsimovich)
Convergent shock-waves (Huemul, Argentina)
Toroidal z-pinch (ZETA)
tokamak (T-1 to 10, Kurchatov Institute)


MAGNETIC:

High beta tokamak (HBT-EP)
stellarator (Wendelstein W 7-X)
Compact stellarator (NCSX Princeton [cancelled])
reversed field pinch (RFX-Mod Italy)
spheromak (SSPX Lawrence Livermore)
spherical tokamak (MAST)
tandem mirror (Gamma-10 Japan)
Bumpy torus (ELMO, EBT, ORNL)
Galatea (Tornado)
Galatea [magnetic suspension] (Levitron)
accelerated FRC (TCS-U)
LDX
odd-parity RMF


INERTIAL:

Laser Inertial (NIF)
Heavy Ion fusion (HIFAR Lawrence Berkeley)
Fast ignition (LFEX/GEKKO XII)


Z-PINCH:

Pulsed z-pinch (Saturn, Sandia)
Staged Z-pinch (ZOT)
Wire array Z-pinch (Z-machine, Sandia)
High density Z-pinch (MAGPIE Imperial College)
Inverse Z-pinch


ELECTROSTATIC:

Fusor (Fusor, Farnsworth)
IEC (fusor, hirsh-meeks)
Polywell (WB-1 to 7, Bussard)
IEC (POPS)
IEC, plasma electrode (PoF, Sanns)
IEC, beam/spherical capacitor (STAR, Sesselmann)


OTHER/COMBINATORIAL:

Flow Pinch (ZAP, Uni Washington)
CT Accel (CTIX, UC Davis)
magneto-kinetic (PHDX, Plasma Dynamic Lab)
magnetized target (AFRL, LANL)
magneto-inertial (OMEGA laser, LLE, Rochester)
levitated dipole [superconducting] (LDX, MIT, PSGC)
Maryland Centrifugal (MCX)
Sheared magnetofluid/Bernouilli confinement (MBX, Uni Texas)
Penning fusion (PFX, LANL)
plasma jets (HyperV, Chantilly)
magnetised target fusion with mechanical compression (General Fusion, Burnaby)
Field-reversed colliding beams (Tri-Alpha)
multi-beam accelerator (MIGMA)
Piezo/Lithium tantalate (UCLA, Putterman)
sonofusion (ORNL, Taleyarkhan)
LENR/electrolysis cell (need I say the names!!)
Muon catalysed fusion (Berkeley, Alvarez)
Focus fusion (DPF, Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Lerner)
Rotating lithium wall (RWE, Maryland)


Notes;
1) I have included one meritous example of each of the fusion methods. Some have many examples, some have just one. There is no order of merit or likelihood of success, etc., implied.
2) I have included methods that I feel differ from all the others in some particular distinct mechanistic way that might conceivably enable stable fusion in a unique manner to the others. A debate can be had over whether, e.g., a tokamak and a spherical tokamak should have separate entries and I am happy to delete examples of what come to be considered 'the same type' where it is correctly argued - but it's my list so ultimately I decide!
3) I have included only *actual physical experiments* that are in the public domain, that have been built in the past or are currently in use or assembly, and are also backed up by either a) numerical simulation, or b) measurements of fusion products. (I've included LENR and sonofusion as results of fusion products have been reported in peer reviewed press, which is a sufficient standard of evidence for this list.)
4) This is my list, and thus my ©copyright, which I state simply so it doesn't get reproduced elsewhere with the addition of someone's 'spark-in-a-bottle' experiment. (Though that would already be included in 'pulsed z-pinch' anyway.) Let's keep it an updated, studious piece here, under some sensible control.

Let me know if there are any I've missed. I'm keen to make the list as fully comprehensive as possible.

I believe that to anticipate and play a part in the future one must study the past. Hence my interest in this and I hope you will share it. Again, to say, behind each and every one of the above lines there is a very detailed, individual story of considerable personal efforts. We can get blasé whilst scanning down the list and mentally group them all together so individual entries are somehow insignificant, but this is not the case, for the quest for fusion energy is a demanding mistress and it has consumed many who hope, and have hoped, to make breakthroughs.

Best regards,

Chris MB.

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Re: ALL EXPERIMENTAL CONTROLLED-FUSION METHODS TO DATE

Post by Edward Miller » Sat May 02, 2009 8:44 am

Great list!!

I would add that Muon fusion is definitely short. Also Spitzer and others from that first era covered in the book "Sun in a Bottle".

Also there has been some very good work in Fusion via femtosecond laser ionization of Deuterium by Ditmire and his team at UT Austin. There were other laser programs as well Nova, etc that did fusion.

There's also a guy that made a tube out of LLNL that has high neutron yield so far but I don't have his papers right this moment.

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Re: ALL EXPERIMENTAL CONTROLLED-FUSION METHODS TO DATE

Post by Chris Bradley » Sat May 02, 2009 8:58 am

OK. I'll look into that. Maybe it's an induced z-pinch, but maybe it's a kind of wakefield-accelerator type mechanism, which I could add if it has an experimental basis.

UPDATE: I am rather convinced that these are examples of inertial fusion. There is no attempt at confinement of the fusion process, so fusion exists only by virtue of the fusible fuel not getting out of the way of the pressure quickly enough. This is inertial fusion in my understanding... happy for a further debate on that. I expect that at some stage someone will specifically try out a Wakefield fusion process, but until then I'm happy that lasers will likely always be an 'ICF' type. I could add separate examples for 'hohlraum' and 'unencapsulated', but they're still 'Laser Inertial'.

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Re: ALL EXPERIMENTAL CONTROLLED-FUSION METHODS TO DATE

Post by Starfire » Sat May 02, 2009 10:22 am

Maybe you don't know of Culham - it has a Tokamak and has been going for 50 years.

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Chris Bradley
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Re: ALL EXPERIMENTAL CONTROLLED-FUSION METHODS TO DATE

Post by Chris Bradley » Sat May 02, 2009 10:29 am

Please note the notes. I have provided singular examples for each method. It is a list of methods, not of experiments.

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Re: ALL EXPERIMENTAL CONTROLLED-FUSION METHODS TO DATE

Post by Chris Bradley » Sat May 02, 2009 5:37 pm


I've removed Project Gnome - I thought it was thermonuclear but appears not... were there any thermonuclear tests under Plowshare? Did the Russians try any h-bomb experiments for power generation?

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Re: ALL EXPERIMENTAL CONTROLLED-FUSION METHODS TO DATE

Post by Chris Bradley » Sun May 03, 2009 8:14 pm

I'm not sure I've been entirely kind to mirror/cusp machines. Does anyone think I should put more in to this list than just 'tandem mirrors'? This is my view of classic mirror confinement so I don't think there are more categories that come under that title.

I have been looking and have found one, which I've added as it is clearly different and has such a fun title - the ELMO Bumpy Torus (!) (EBT) experiment This is a series of mirror confinements all put around back onto themselves in a circle, so is clearly not a 'tandem' arrangement and is heading off towards a toroidal z-pinch type (but isn't, as the z-pinches are at particular azimuths). So I've added that as unique.

I'm also wondering if anyone might want me to break down the 'stellarator' into what some consider to be the two forms of stellarator; the torsatron (helitron) which is distinguished as having continuous helical coils, and the W-7X type with modular non-planar coils. There is a third type, the 'heliac', which uses a helical arrangement of planar circular coils. However I defer here to Lyman Spitzer who defined a stellarator as any toroidal device in which the rotational transform is generated by coils outside the plasma, and therefore I will merely add this footnote to the effect that there are variants of stellarators - unless someone thinks I should split them out as unique.

best regards,

Chris MB.

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Re: ALL EXPERIMENTAL CONTROLLED-FUSION METHODS TO DATE

Post by Edward Miller » Mon May 04, 2009 1:26 am

I would add that I think it would be great to have some additional information such as Project Lead, $$, Neutron Yield, additional info link.

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Re: ALL EXPERIMENTAL CONTROLLED-FUSION METHODS TO DATE

Post by Chris Bradley » Mon May 04, 2009 8:52 am

edmo wrote:
> I would add that I think it would be great to have some additional information such as Project Lead, $$, Neutron Yield, additional info link.
I would invite people to make those contributions! My intention was to prepare a list of methods, not of experiments. There are countless experiments under some of the titles. It would blossom into a matrix as wide as it is long, and it already took me an hour to assemble them all (not counting prior time spent before that in my research efforts!).

So I was only trying to provide a singular example to "prove" that the method had been experimentally attempted. I think it is enough that a google search on the title and example experiment will ellicit far more info than my humble understandings might provide.

Perhaps we could have an 'adopt-a-method' scheme. Each method is adopted by a forumee or two and they update us on the current happenings. (Richard H. is already aligned/performing under the LENR entry?!! The IEC methods are already well-catered for!)

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Re: ALL EXPERIMENTAL CONTROLLED-FUSION METHODS TO DATE

Post by Richard Hull » Mon May 04, 2009 3:54 pm

Tuck and Watson in the 40's and early 50's were pioneers in looking into IEC fusion prior to Farnsworth. Bishop notes their early work in "Project Sherwood", saying it doesn't look promising. More advanced experiments never went forward.

Spitzer was resposible fo the Stellarator (1951-52).

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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