Another claim of a Fusion "Breakthrough"

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
Leland Palmer
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Re: Another claim of a Fusion "Breakthrough"

Post by Leland Palmer » Fri Nov 28, 2014 6:55 pm

This article claims that the Lockheed device is a cusp device inside a magnetic bottle, with recirculation.

http://news.sciencemag.org/physics/2014 ... -reactor-0
He said that their magnetic confinement concept combined elements from several earlier approaches. The core of the device uses cusp confinement, a sort of magnetic trap in which particles that try to escape are pushed back by rounded, pillowlike magnetic fields. Cusp devices were investigated in the 1960s and 1970s but were largely abandoned because particles leak out through gaps between the various magnetic fields leading to a loss of temperature. McGuire says they get around this problem by encapsulating the cusp device inside a magnetic mirror device, a different sort of confinement technique. Cylindrical in shape, it uses a magnetic field to restrict particles to movement along its axis. Extra-strong fields at the ends of the machine—magnetic mirrors—prevent the particles from escaping. Mirror devices were also extensively studied last century, culminating in the 54-meter-long Mirror Fusion Test Facility B (MFTF-B) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. In 1986, MFTF-B was completed at a cost of $372 million but, for budgetary reasons, was never turned on.

Another technique the team is using to counter particle losses from cusp confinement is recirculation. “We recapture the flow of particles and route it back into the device,” McGuire said.
Just FYI. Anybody with any ideas about what this would actually look like?

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Richard Hull
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Re: Another claim of a Fusion "Breakthrough"

Post by Richard Hull » Fri Nov 28, 2014 7:05 pm

The Livermore mirror machine was never turned on for budgetary reasons!!!??? 372 million spent!!!
Aww...Too bad. Another third of a billion ill spent on a fusion wanna' be.

Yet the machine was completed but never turned on....Wow!

Could it be they knew it was not going to work, anyway.

You don't spend 372 million and fully complete something and then never turn it on.

A great load of crap!

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.

Leland Palmer
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Re: Another claim of a Fusion "Breakthrough"

Post by Leland Palmer » Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:10 pm

Well, Reagan Administration, you know, regarding the magnetic mirror machine MFTF-B - built but never run at LLNL.

They also cut the solar energy research budget by 90%, for 'budgetary reasons" - saving a whopping billion dollars per year - at the same time they were spending a trillion 1980's dollars on Star Wars.

If it wasn't defense related or if it didn't benefit the oil corporations, it had a low budgetary priority under the Reagan administration, I think myself.

I would have liked to see it run, of course, just to find out how well it would work.

https://lasttechage.wordpress.com/2013/ ... confusion/

Doug Browning
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Re: Another claim of a Fusion "Breakthrough"

Post by Doug Browning » Sat Nov 29, 2014 3:47 am

"a cusp device inside a magnetic bottle, with recirculation"

Sounds like one leaky bottle inside another leaky bottle. Maybe version II will try 3 leaky bottles.

Some comments have been made at U of W that this would require superconducting magnets immersed in the plasma. Not very conducive to "compact" when the shielding and cooling requirements are considered.

Leland Palmer
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Re: Another claim of a Fusion "Breakthrough"

Post by Leland Palmer » Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:50 am

OK, here seem to be more details, from Aviation Week:

http://aviationweek.com/technology/skun ... or-details

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The CFR will avoid these issues by tackling plasma confinement in a radically different way. Instead of constraining the plasma within tubular rings, a series of superconducting coils will generate a new magnetic-field geometry in which the plasma is held within the broader confines of the entire reaction chamber. Superconducting magnets within the coils will generate a magnetic field around the outer border of the chamber. “So for us, instead of a bike tire expanding into air, we have something more like a tube that expands into an ever-stronger wall,” McGuire says. The system is therefore regulated by a self-tuning feedback mechanism, whereby the farther out the plasma goes, the stronger the magnetic field pushes back to contain it. The CFR is expected to have a beta limit ratio of one. “We should be able to go to 100% or beyond,” he adds.
So, ya got yer internal magnetic coils, and yer external magnetic coils (colored dark blue) that create a magnetic field around the entire outer border of the chamber. The recirculation is in the little chambers on the ends, I think?

He's apparently talking of betas of 100%, while the existing record for beta is 40 %, for the Small Tight Aspect Ratio Tokamak, a Spherical Tokamak, says Wikipedia.

Hmmm... all of the surfaces of the chamber are convex, except for the areas adjacent to the internal coils. And those are convex, relative to the internal coils. Is that what they mean by calling this a cusp device? Do I have that right?

McGuire is an interesting guy - very bright, apparently. He is a MIT grad, who did his thesis on multi-grid fusors. He seems to be a fountain of ideas.

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Richard Hull
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Re: Another claim of a Fusion "Breakthrough"

Post by Richard Hull » Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:10 am

I read the article on the mirror machine shutdown and the associated lamentations. They talk about cutting off our children's future. This is another old saw so often used in politics I am stunned it made it into the scientific fusion debate, but readily understand its use as a "clutching at straws" from a drowning program that has not, for the billions spent in 50 years, had one single demo'd watt of generated electricity!

The people and politicians are tired of the promises of fusion with money rolling in torrents down scores of different fusion rat holes, yet always this great new idea or thing just around the bend. Give us several billions and at sometime in the future, we will have something doing fusion going...Trust us...It will be great.

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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Chris Bradley
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Re: Another claim of a Fusion "Breakthrough"

Post by Chris Bradley » Sun Nov 30, 2014 9:44 am

Leland Palmer wrote:McGuire is an interesting guy - very bright, apparently. He is a MIT grad, who did his thesis on multi-grid fusors. He seems to be a fountain of ideas.
IMO, his thesis is riddled with questionable presumption upon presumption. I'm somewhat surprised it passed viva. I'm not saying that sometimes a punt on a presumption might not lead you down the golden road, but the presumptions here are clearly questionable.

We already know what happens when you pump a neutral beam into a confined plasma. JET has been pumping its tokamak plasmas with several MW of neutral beams for years. You can actually get a 2:1 energy amplification on your input energy. But that's thermal energy, so you could do better with a reverse-cycle heat pump. Adding in the additional intrinsic losses with mirror machines, this is evidently a scheme that is going to fail to live up to the promises.

Such schemes get cleverer and cleverer at fooling not only the funders, but the researchers too. The easiest person to fool with your argument is yourself. This might well pump out MW for MW input for a second or two, and then the arguments will flow - "Look, we can get 2MW output for 1MW input, all we have to do is make this-or-that a bit more efficient, and stabilise the plasma". But a bit of simple maths shows beam-into-target can't work for useful net energy gain, unless there is something new and extra going on at the Coulomb scattering end of the mechanism to recover those losses, and there's nothing indicated as such here. And even after that, how stable is a plasma when there are MW of generated energy pumping into it trying to get out and destabilising the plasma in the process? Most of these schemes haven't even got to the point of getting fusion fuel to 'burn', let alone 'contain' the burn. How easy is it to burn oil? Dead easy - put a match to it. How long did it take to contain it and make it generate useful work in an engine? A long time, still being researched, and all these fusion ideas haven't even got the stuff to burn yet let alone contain the output power.

McGuire has demonstrated the background and experience to convince himself he is on the right track, and he is clearly persuasive enough to draw others into that optimism he is very probably misleading himself along.

Leland Palmer
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Re: Another claim of a Fusion "Breakthrough"

Post by Leland Palmer » Sun Nov 30, 2014 8:18 pm

Hi Richard and Chris-

I have no doubt myself that there is something wrong with the funding in the U.S. fusion program. The big magnetic machines take up all the funding, and the small machines containing new ideas get neglected. In the Reagan Administration, big magnetic machines were finished at great cost, and never run. It seems beyond coincidence that this pattern of funding is exactly what you would expect to see if the ultimate funding decisions were made by the fossil fuel interests, one way or another. This goes all the way back to Farnsworth - huge amounts of money spent, but very little spent on new ideas, especially on inertial electrostatic fusion.

I'm not competent to judge McGuire's ideas. I think they're interesting and think there may be something there, though. Would high beta make neutral beam injection more efficient, for example?

Here are a couple of links I ran across while trying to find out what Lockheed/McGuire's machine looked like:

McGuire's MIT multiple grid thesis:
http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/ ... ion_detail

Would this multigrid fusor work as advertised? Is his use of two dimensional OOPIC modeling software valid?

The international patent filed by Lockheed on McGuire's fusion machine- including some drawings:
http://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/d ... PCT+Biblio

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Chris Bradley
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Re: Another claim of a Fusion "Breakthrough"

Post by Chris Bradley » Sun Nov 30, 2014 10:10 pm

Leland Palmer wrote:Would high beta make neutral beam injection more efficient, for example?
No particular reason to think so. Lerner has identified X-ray energy containment in his pulsed pinch machine, but he has specifically envisioned his machines as potential X-ray generators so it is relevant to him, but I don't see that would help in a thermal plasma.
Leland Palmer wrote:Would this multigrid fusor work as advertised?
I don't believe so, because it is founded on certain assumptions about how fusors work, and fails to anticipate what I believe is, actually, the correct basic mechanism.
Leland Palmer wrote:Is his use of two dimensional OOPIC modeling software valid?
It's as valid as his model of the fusor is valid, because that's what the OOPIC model is designed to simulate.
Leland Palmer wrote:The international patent filed by Lockheed on McGuire's fusion machine
It is actually filed in three parts. The US equivalents being;
US20140301519 Heating Plasma for Fusion Power Using Magnetic Field Oscillation
US20140301518 Magnetic Field Plasma Confinement for Compact Fusion Power
&
US20140301517 Active Cooling of Structures Immersed in Plasma

Claim 1 of each begins "A fusion reactor comprising...." etc..
Jack Keith is due to examine each of them - based on what I have seen of his previous examinations, I anticipate he will reject these saying that there is no evidence that they have utility as fusion reactors, as there are no known fusion reactors with a known utility as none have yet demonstrated any useful outputs. He's rejected previous patent applications on the same basis. General Fusion has been rejected like this.

[If you want to get a patent these days (in a 'major' country) for a fusion reactor, you have to identify something you know it will do, not what you hope it will do. What you file as the utility of your 'fusion reactor' need not actually be 'fusion', and it doesn't really need to so long as it identifies the operating principle and something unique that it does. I patented my epicyclotron as a device for manipulating charged particles rather than as a fusion device. It was granted on first office action which is rare for patents, and virtually unheard of for a pro se application like mine was, so I guess I did something right!]

Doug Browning
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Re: Another claim of a Fusion "Breakthrough"

Post by Doug Browning » Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:13 pm

That IEEE article in the other thread "Another Fusion Article" has a nice picture of the inside of the Lockheed device.
Assuming Lockheed has some super technology for cooling the leading edges of supersonic wings, maybe they think they can just bite the bullet for a fusion device with immersed superconducting coils. They must have some giant 3-D powdered metal printer tucked in the corner of "Area 51".


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