No news is no news.

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
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Richard Hull
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No news is no news.

Post by Richard Hull » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:12 pm

I spent a while poking around the Polywell related sites and I noted that EMC Squared has not posted much of anything since 2010 and most of their proof and paper work is in the 2006-2008 time frame. Otherwise, a 2010 effort at diagnostics seems to be it.

Bussard's final effort is certainly not dead, but may be on life support. I sense that this effort is adrift due to cash issues. Of course, many claims and plans are touted on the home page.

Mark Suppes gave a recent talk on his efforts and that's about it. Other sites and web infomercials claim that small, home science will be source of the fusion breakthrough needed. This stuff is put out there, of course, by non-hackers and folks who don't pack th' gear needed to do any heavy lifting.

P-B11 fusion still languishes as some dream, raising the fusion background noise level, despite its extreme difficulties at the "doing" level. There appears to be 0.0 folks involved in any, even cursory, P-B11 effort.

No one would give this difficult reaction a second look were it not for the aneutronic and supposed "clean" reaction that also holds out the carrot of direct conversion.

The NIF fusion effort is effectively shut down by decree and it is off doing what it was designed to do. (Make better bombs) It's ICF carrot fell off its string with the realization that putt-putt boat fusion will not a watt of usable electricity make.

ITER is still off in the distance and rather quiet, save for an occasional press blurb.

Of course, we are also still plodding along doing fusion at will, welcoming new cadres of doers who will mostly move on to other efforts whether successful or not. We are fusioneers, but just without the bold fusion claims, big fusion dreams, over-sold promises or a regular drum beat of press releases.

So, no news is not good news or bad news......It's just no news.

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.

Richard Hester
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Re: No news is no news.

Post by Richard Hester » Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:31 am

I dunno - rather than trying to leap all the way to a Boron-fueled Polywell, an interesting first step might be a modest beam-target setup in order to put together the capability to detect the P-B11 reaction. A detector similar to that used by the U. Wisconsin group to detect the D-He3 reaction may be suitable (PIPS detector with 1 mil (0.001") thick lead foil). They use this to detect the high-energy protons from the D-He3 reaction. The lead foil may need to be thinner in the case of the alpha particles. Its main purpose appears to be to screen out electrons. A drift tube and a magnet may do the same without attenuating the alpha particles.

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Richard Hull
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Re: No news is no news.

Post by Richard Hull » Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:55 pm

Without trying to detail construction methodologies in the news forum, Richard is correct, the PIPS hooked up to an MCA is the detection method of choice if one is well-heeled or lucky enough to have the setup.

I also agree that a target machine is certainly the quickest amateur way to P-B11 if that is their goal, but the needed 100kv + and the attendent x-radiation would be the fly in this ointment.

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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Re: No news is no news.

Post by chad ramey » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:46 pm

I was really happy to catch wind of some of EMC squared's latest work while I was at NASA JSC. I met several times with a few of the guys from the EP division (the group that researches advanced propulsion technologies, most recently famed for Sonny's space warp field drive http://news.discovery.com/space/history ... 120917.htm) and during one of our meetings we talked for a while about my fusor. While on the subject of IEC one of the engineers said something along the lines of "you'll probably be interested in this" and proceeded to show me a presentation about NASA's current research into p-B11 fusion and what they knew about polywell. Apparently EMC squared is now being almost exclusively funded by the US Navy and most everything is being kept quiet for "security reasons".


I realize this is not the most credible news ever but, that is what I've heard. Maybe we'll see something from EMC squared totally out of the blue in another.....20 years or so.

-Chad

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Richard Hull
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Re: No news is no news.

Post by Richard Hull » Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:10 pm

It's nice to see that the Navy connection is still intact. 90% of all of Bussard's work was Navy funded for years via some nebulous, backdoor route. The Navy is always looking at the future and doesn't mind chasing down any number of possibilities. They also had a number of "out in the open" ONR contracts as well. No news here other than the Navy is still involved and like a stealth sub, they have slipped beneath the waves and are "silent running" for the moment.

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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Re: No news is no news.

Post by Richard Hester » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:09 pm

On the P-B11 front, a gas-filled tube similar to the ancient X-ray tubes might be one way to get some results. I envision a Boron coated cathode and some sort of reservoir to maintain a low pressure of Hydrogen. This might be easier to manage than a full fledged accellerator. It would operate down in the low fringes of energy for the reaction, but the goal in this case is just to detect the reaction, not to generate power or irradiate the neighborhood.

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Re: No news is no news.

Post by Richard Hester » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:13 am

Taking the previous post to a logical conclusion, a fusor with a hydrogen fill and a boron coated solid inner grid/cathode would be a logical test bed.

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Re: No news is no news.

Post by Dan Tibbets » Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:34 pm

Lack of effort or at least preparatory work for P-B11 fusion is not absolute. Eric Learner, etel are working towards this goal with their Dense Plasma Focus. They are cash strapped and seem mired in the technical difficulties of this approach at this time. they have been open in their results, but not much has been heard in the last few months.

As For the Polywell approach by EMC2 they have been operating under a Naval contract for several years. Initially this was ~ 10 million dollars funded by the recovery act. As such there was required reporting of progress, and this has been almost the only outlet of information. But, these reports have been minimal and frustrating. Building of WB8 and testing has apparently progressed. One of the contract options was to go to a P-B11 version. The status of this is unknown. The only public news beyond the very minimal finical reports was that they were working on improved electron guns. Weather this was due to technical difficulties of injecting electrons, progress towards higher voltages for D-D fusion, or if it was in anticipation of P-B11 work is unknown. R. Nebel (of POPS fame)was chief scientist, but he left EMC2. He has not talked about any of the work since then, and I speculate that he is under non disclosure agreements as he had earlier been open about some of the work and expectations. Several others that have posted on this forum or the talk Polywell forum may also be under nondisclosure agreements. The significance of this is unknown.

Finally, Tri Alpha with their field Reversed Approach presumably has continued work, with P- B11 fusion being their stated goal. They have been funded by at least 50 million dollars. They are also keeping things close to their chest, though some related papers have been published.

At the last IEC conference there was a paper describing the P-B11 reaction and efforts to measure it. The results describe efforts to measure the energy of the resultant alpha particles. The distribution of the energy across the three product alphas seems to still be a uncertain issue.

Dan Tibbets

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Chris Bradley
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Re: No news is no news.

Post by Chris Bradley » Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:23 pm

... but there is plenty of 'fluff' news and other bling to keep things ticking over .. how about this video ..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-6hJ8sltdI

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Re: No news is no news.

Post by Richard Hester » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:00 am

All those other things are nice, but as far as an amateur attempt to demonstrate p-B11 fusion, an accellerator or modified fusor look to me to be the only affordable methods. A solid-target fusor would be far more managable than any attempt to get the boron into a fusor in gaseous form (and keep it that way). The boron would eventually end up on the chamber walls, or worse, the view port. Boron hydrides have been beaten to death elswhere on this forum - don't even go there. They are by turns unstable, pyrophoric, and exceedingly poisonous. No supplier in his right mind would sell any to an amateur. Boron halides are out for similar reasons, as well forming fluoride/chloride deposits on chamber walls. I have some SS fittings that have been used with halides - they ain't pretty.

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