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Clean low cost hydrogen boron fusion and impact on environment

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by Bobfitz1, Apr 25, 2018.

  1. Bobfitz1

    Bobfitz1 Member

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    LPPFusion's approach to fusion is the lowest cost design with a chance to one day produce clean fusion energy at an LCOE cost that would be much less than coal, gas, PV or wind power. Clean, cheap fusion energy in the next decade would greatly accelerate efforts to replace fossil fuels and slow global warming.

    Having expended $5 million to date on their Dense Plasma Focus research device, LPPFusion currently ranks 2nd in fusion efficiency among all private and government funded fusion projects. Only slightly behind the Joint European Torus (JET) efficiency record. Fusion efficiency is a measure of the fusion output energy produced by a test run divided by the input energy expended to produce that much fusion.

    LPPFusion test shots last year created plasma ion temperatures of 2.8 billion degrees C. A paper reporting this new record plasma temperature was published last year in the peer reviewed journal Physics of Plasmas. New experiments this summer using beryllium electrodes (a first in DPF research) are expected to increase plasma density and the amount of fusion energy produced by the test shot. Improved density and energy output will permit experiments next year using hydrogen boron (pB11 an advanced fuel whose fusion does not produce the intense neutron flux inherent to deuterium-tritium fuel used by most fusion approaches. Demonstrating significant fusion energy output using pB11 would be the first time any fusion research group across the world has successfully used pB11 this way.

    A short summary of LPPFusion's technology, results and potential environmental benefits can be found at
    LPPFusion | Cheap, safe, and clean energy generator: the power of the sun recreated on Earth | Wefunder

    If you have ever been frustrated to read that year after year, the U.S. Dept. of Energy gives 95% of fusion funding to ITER - which will never lead to clean and cheap energy - to the exclusion of innovative and cost effective approaches which deserve funding, you may have wished you could make your voice heard and move the bureaucracy to spread available resources more widely.

    If you have, an opportunity is now available to give a small push to a research effort working on this very promising "moon shot" technology. This effort has a chance to show Congress and vested scientific interests just how productive funding more than one approach can be. I encourage all who are interested to visit LPPFusion’s page on Wefunder and watch the video there. It may convince you to give the small extra push needed to fully fund the next year of research. LPPFusion’s Wefunder campaign has already raised $750,000 of it’s 1 million dollar goal, but it closes in only six more days.

    Note:
    Tonight Eric Lerner, LPPFusion Chief Scientist, will participate in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit at 8:00PM EDT Wednesday, April 25. This gives anyone considering whether to help raise the needed capital the chance to ask any question they have. Go to: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/
     
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  2. mblakele

    mblakele pre-jackpot member

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  3. Bobfitz1

    Bobfitz1 Member

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    Thanks for the thoughtful reply @mblakele. The holy grail for fusion research is to reach a point where experiments produce NET energy. I.e. more energy produced than is consumed to make the fusion occur. Any fusion group to reach that milestone will most certainly harvest a physics Nobel prize.

    A fusion approach can't be commercialized unless the fusion process is creating a good deal more output energy than input energy. In theory that ought to be achievable with prototype engineering work. However even that isn't sufficient to one day
    help the energy situations and environment. That can only happen if the commercial fusion devices can be of modest size and cost so that after accounting for ALL construction and operating costs, the wholesale cents per KWh is lower than existing electric sources. This is where ITER and even some promising private fusion efforts would fall short if they reached net energy.
    The experimental devices are too large complex and expensive to ever commercially produce power that would be economically justified compared to cheaper sources. Notably solar PV and Wind power, ten years down the line when they will be even cheaper than today. There is tons of additional material validating LPPFusions science on their website, should you be interested.
     
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  4. Lessmog

    Lessmog Supporting Member

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    The theory is mostly beyond my education level too, but the parts I can follow appear to be plausible.

    Lerner* claims to be harnessing the natural tendencies of plasma to work for him instead of trying to oppose them, like all those big toruses need to pump in colossal amounts of energy just to establish a brief equilibrium. And his small team claim to be in control of the processes and to know what things are stopping them, so far, from achieving all three criteria needed for fusion to ignite: heat, spacial concentration and time. (It's heavy metal ions contamination, from the tungsten electrode used up til now.)

    The team's small budget has stymied progress, but now they have a beryllium electrode, ready to go soon, and new cameras and stuff in order to closer study the actual flash. Once all ducks are in a row (soon, hopefully) they will be ready for the next step and use other "fuel" than hydrogen alone: introducing boron to initiate exothermal reaction.

    The IMMENSELY IMPORTANT factor here is that p-B11 fusion emits no neutrons and therefor no radioactivity is produced or induced into the machine and surrounding materials, only a stream of ions (i.e., electric current) and a flash of energetic EM radiation (X-rays) which can be captured using sequential PEV elements to produce - electricity again!

    Inching ever closer to a breakthrough, the team still has to eat and sleep and buy instruments and stuff, so they will rely on seed investment for some time longer. Once the process has been confirmed, Lerner expects much higher interest from investors and consequently much more rapid progress.

    Disclosure: I did put money where my mouth is and invested four years ago, as a moon shot, with a higher threshold then ($5000). Now my disposable funds don't allow further investment, but I certainly do wish LPP every success. The current round allows for smaller contributions without the need to qualify, but of course everyone should be careful to learn the conditions, pro and con, and to weigh the risks. Never gamble what you cannot afford to lose! For example, it is difficult to sell my shares now if I wanted to, and probably for less than what i paid. So, take responsibility! But maybe some day they will make me very rich ;-) and if all works well, the world will be a better place.

    ------------------
    *Eric Lerner is an astrophysicist specialising in stellar plasma interactions. (Hope that's correct.)
     
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  5. jaguar36

    jaguar36 Active Member

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    Investing any more dollars at all at this point in fusion is a waste. We already have a source of fusion and have now figured out how to efficiently capture and store that energy. We should be routing all funding into improving PV, battery and transmission technology rather than spending any more money on concepts like fusion that have been 'coming soon' since the 50s.

    Maybe one day when we have fully transitioned away from oil/gas/coal we can start researching it again, but we have a viable solution right now. We should be focused on implementing and improving that solution.
     
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  6. Lessmog

    Lessmog Supporting Member

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    #6 Lessmog, Apr 25, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
    Jaguar, I both agree and disagree.

    By all means, increase implementation of PV! :D

    And by all means, decrease, cease or desist pouring vast resources into the various big tokamaks which are a dead end simply because of their size and the immense amounts of radioactive waste they become as soon as they are operational.

    But maybe one way to ease off continued wasted money going into them is to show a better, more viable alternative? LPP could be that alternative investment, if it turns out to work. I see no reason why it should not, if the technical problems can be solved which Lerner thinks he has a grip on.

    Big toruses have tried and failed for half a century; LPP is what, five years now? Let's give it a chance too. And please don't mention tritium-filled diamond laser targets ... :rolleyes:

    Edit: Seeing Bob's comment I yield before his better knowledge. Ten years he says. My event horizon plays me tricks ... :oops:
     
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  7. Bobfitz1

    Bobfitz1 Member

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    I'll have to respectfully disagree with your assertion that investing more dollars at this point in fusion is a waste. Investing more research money into ITER and other tokamaks is a waste for the reasons you note.
    What you aren't taking into account is that even with the great progress PV and wind have been making, it will still take several decades before they replace all use of fossil fuels for transportation, electric generation, and heating, across the globe.

    If a fusion approach has any reasonable potential to one day (if the fundamental science works) produce all the power any of these would need more cheaply than any renewable and therefore push fossil fuels out of the picture more rapidly, it would be foolish not to invest a few million dollars to see if it might work. So far this company has spent only 5 or 6 M over ten years and yet have achieved fusion results better than nearly any private or government fusion program. These are verifiable facts.
     
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  8. Lessmog

    Lessmog Supporting Member

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    Oh and also note that some (increasingly important) parts of Earth have big seasonal variability in insolation, making solar less useful as the main energy source there. Five months worth of battery? Uh, no.
     
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  9. xhawk101

    xhawk101 Active Member

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    The progress LPP has made speaks for itself. Disclosure as a biased investor, I see it as diversification. If the moonshot works it will be a spectacular investment. If not, it's ok too, but at lease we tried.

    Sunlight on Mars is not as powerful. Efficient mini fusion devices could really come in handy if the species is able to become multiplanetary
     
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  10. Dutchie

    Dutchie Active Member

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  11. S'toon

    S'toon Knows where his towel is

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    What a load of crap on the part of Bezos.

    If we needed as much energy as Bezos said, that would imply that our population expanded so much that the Earth couldn't sustain that many people anyway.
     
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  12. mblakele

    mblakele pre-jackpot member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  13. jaguar36

    jaguar36 Active Member

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    What a ridiculous argument. If you compound at just a few percent our resource usage of anything for a few hundred years we won't have enough of anything. Once we stop destroying the environment, then sure research fusion, or whatever else you want. Right now, we have a solution that will work, we should be putting all our resources into making it happen at soon as possible.
     
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  14. BillO

    BillO Member

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    I really hope the LPP fusion approach works, and I donated a small amount of money, but here are some issues I see:

    1. Eric Lerner probably doesn’t have the business or technical management experience necessary to make this a success, even if the science works. Evidence of this can be seen in his failure to attract the necessary capital and manpower despite decades of trying. He is far too suspicious of losing control to bring in people who could help. This has been fatal to many startups.

    2. A major technical concern is that he is hoping his device can create gargantuan magnetic fields that will activate a quantum effect which will prevent the plasmoid from cooling due to Bremsstrahlung radiation. This effect has never been seen before at this scale. Also, some doubt whether the device is actually generating the required magnetic field strength.

    3. It is highly doubtful Lerner actually has a detailed theory that describes what is going on inside the plasmoid. He has a few equations, some sketches, and intuitive hunches. That may be enough. But the mainstream fusion field took decades to work out an understanding of what a tokamak plasma is doing, and they still don’t have a complete picture. They thought it was simple in the beginning and that led to naive optimism. The same thing may be going on here.
     
  15. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Well-Known Member

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    I disagree with you there.

    As long as sourcing the fuel is easy, I suspect that many governments would be happy to support fusion with costs close to but not lower than those of other sources.

    To have a dispatchable source free of the problems of fossil fuel consumption and the costs of nuclear fission would be significant. European nations would love to ditch Russian natural gas, for example.

    Also, it's worth remembering that domestic costs move wealth around the economy, while imports see wealth leave the economy. All other things being equal, governments would favor higher domestic construction costs over higher imported fuel costs.
     
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  16. Bobfitz1

    Bobfitz1 Member

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    I'm sure you are right that if in say ten years, fusion energy became available at large scale and for the same or slightly higher cost than alternatives (which would be solar PV and wind, since in ten more years those will have made natural gas generation too expensive to compete with them) there would be situations where it would still be utilized, without a cost advantage.

    However choosing solar, wind or fusion for new generation capacity only gets fossil fuels fully displaced over a few decades as already built power plants reach end of life and must be replaced. I believe that to greatly accelerate the shut down of fossil fuel plants, a new fusion option ideally should be even cheaper than solar and wind while avoiding the location problems of wind turbines and the large space requirements of solar PV. Unlike wind and PV, fusion generation would not need large amounts of storage to cover during ebbs in wind and sun.

    If you view the LPPFusion video at Refunder, you will get a good sense of the true scope of environmental benefits of much cheaper electric power. They are profound. Homes anywhere could be heated with electric heat pumps rather than gas or oil. Water desalinization would expand to the need for fresh water if powered by much cheaper energy source. It would even be economically feasible for governments to build CO2 extraction plants around the world to lower CO2 levels over decades.

    Solar PV and wind while getting cheaper over time, still won't be able to stop the current annual CO2 emissions from continuing to increase global CO2 levels for the next few decades. That would only be possible with an energy source so much cheaper that existing electric producers will stampede to replace fossil fuel plants regardless of how close they are to end of life.
     
  17. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Well-Known Member

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    Yes, clean-and-too-cheap-to-meter would be great. But it doesn't fundamentally alter the fact that fusion wouldn't have to beat existing sources to be implemented on a wide scale.

    We're already at the point where the majority of new nameplate capacity is in renewable energy, and the expected rapid expansion in coal generation is being reduced, with cancellation of multiple projects in China and India in particular.

    Coal power has large power plants, needs a large water supply and produces large amounts of pollution. Both China and India recognize the problems related to coal. If cheaply-fueled, safe fusion power could just match coal power prices China and India would both adopt it _very_ quickly.

    Meanwhile, renewable energy installations are no longer help back by cost. Solar and wind are now winning auctions with zero subsidy. The key technical issue is variability. If solar, wind and batteries all fall in cost as expected, competitive renewable + storage would accelerate renewable installations.

    The other issue for renewables is protectionism. Brazil and India in particular have been held back by high tariffs. As solar + storage costs fall, the better the prospects for market size, the more rapidly domestic production would be established that can overcome trade barriers.
     
  18. jaguar36

    jaguar36 Active Member

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    It will take several decades for any new energy solution to replace fossil fuels across the globe. Doesn't matter if its PV, Wind, Hydrogen Boron or some mythical cold fusion. In a decade PV and batteries will be even cheaper and more efficient with the added benefit of having decades of market acceptance. LPP is at least a decade away from having a marketable product, and that's always been the deal with fusion, its always a decade away. Still, best case lets say they get a working, profitable reactor by then. They still have to deal with getting regulatory approval, and more importantly acceptance by the general populace. The NIMBYers will prevent any sort of nuclear reactor (Fission, Fusion, safe or unsafe) from being installed anywhere (at least in the US) quickly. By the time enough of these reactors are online to matter PV could have already completely replaced fossil fuels.

    In the grand scheme of things a few million isn't significant enough to matter, but its going to take real money to get these to market, and that's not worth doing.
     
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  19. Bobfitz1

    Bobfitz1 Member

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    What you wrote about coal, renewables, etc. are all factual.
    However you are missing my point about how long it will take under different circumstances to halve and then nearly eliminate more CO2 being released into atmosphere and what that means to the degrees of warming that earth reaches before temp stabilizes. If solar PV and Wind are it, as great as that is, it will take them longer to displace fossil fuels, than mixed with an energy source that is much cheaper than they are. Cost reductions and the profits possible drive the speed of wide adoption, that is just a fact. If next year battery costs dropped by 2/3rds, making EVs a good deal less expensive to buy than ICE vehicles, I guarantee that would greatly speed the elimination of fuel burning cars and therefore the years before CO2 from transportation was halved or more.
     
  20. Bobfitz1

    Bobfitz1 Member

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