Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register

Promising Fusion research with space propulsion applications

Bobfitz1

Active Member
Supporting Member
Sep 24, 2012
1,235
4,004
Ludlow, Vt
VASIMR ended up never flying to the ISS after NASA determined that the space station “was not an ideal demonstration platform for the desired performance level of the engines,”
http://sen.com/blogs/irene-klotz/nasa-nixes-ad-astra-rocket-test-on-the-space-station

Correct. NASA reversed it's original determination that VASIMR should be tested on IIS. I don't know NASA's rationale for the change. NASA continues to provide funding to Ad Astra to help support continued refinement of VASIMR and the press release from Aug. 2017 details what seems to be very substantial progress.

PRESS RELEASE 080917, AUGUST 9, 2017
AD ASTRA ROCKET COMPANY SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES ALL NASA NEXTSTEP CONTRACT MILESTONES FOR YEAR TWO, RECEIVES NASA APPROVAL TO PROCEED WITH YEAR THREE.
 

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Moderator
it is virtually certain that tokamak fusion as represented by ITER will not be practical
Again, I’m not qualified technically to pass judgement on ITER, but if what he says is true it is disturbing that so many highly qualified physicists could be involved in the ITER project. Which is why I am not assuming that Hirsch is correct. Every major scientific endeavor has critics, and that’s fine.

While the ITER project is costly, when you balance that against the long term benefits of having massive quantities of extremely low cost energy, maybe it’s not as costly as one might think. I’m thinking centuries ahead, not decades.

My personal opinion is that wind, solar, and batteries are the best solution for sustainable energy for terrestrial uses. As we scale them up and improve them costs will continue to fall. I don’t think we need fusion to transition to sustainable energy. But it could have other uses as you pointed out in your post starting this thread.
 

Bobfitz1

Active Member
Supporting Member
Sep 24, 2012
1,235
4,004
Ludlow, Vt
Again, I’m not qualified technically to pass judgement on ITER, but if what he says is true it is disturbing that so many highly qualified physicists could be involved in the ITER project. Which is why I am not assuming that Hirsch is correct. Every major scientific endeavor has critics, and that’s fine.
While the ITER project is costly, when you balance that against the long term benefits of having massive quantities of extremely low cost energy, maybe it’s not as costly as one might think. I’m thinking centuries ahead, not decades.

My personal opinion is that wind, solar, and batteries are the best solution for sustainable energy for terrestrial uses. As we scale them up and improve them costs will continue to fall. I don’t think we need fusion to transition to sustainable energy. But it could have other uses as you pointed out in your post starting this thread.

Hirsch is a highly qualified physicist. Unlike the physicists whose careers and livelihood are dependent on continuing a project that will never pay off, he can remember the objective isn't to produce some fusion at any cost. The objective is to find a practical and unlimited source of energy. " ITER estimates the cost of design and construction at about 20 billion euros (currently about $22 billion)."

Spending 22 billion with no chance of practical commercialization afterwards is a boondoggle and one that starves fusion approaches with at least a chance to payoff someday.
 

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Hirsch is a highly qualified physicist.
I am not questioning his credentials. And I’m sure that ITER has similarly well qualified physicists.
Spending 22 billion with no chance of practical commercialization afterwards
(the italics are mine) That conclusion is what I am questioning. Of course the first experimental fusion reactors will be expensive. That does not mean that future iterations on their design will never be commercially viable.

My point was that when it comes to something like fusion as an energy source, it is worth thinking in terms of centuries, not just short term. $22 billion sounds like a lot of money, but it really isn’t when evaluated in context of the goals of the project.

In 2016 the annual global expenditure on military budgets was almost $1.7 TRILLION. (Source: World military spending: Increases in the USA and Europe, decreases in oil-exporting countries | SIPRI )

That $22 billion for ITER is coming from China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. So it’s spread around. I think it may well be a worthwhile effort. Obviously there are experts on both sides of the debate, as is often the case.
 

ItsNotAboutTheMoney

Well-Known Member
Jul 12, 2012
12,665
11,444
Maine
I am not questioning his credentials. And I’m sure that ITER has similarly well qualified physicists.
(the italics are mine) That conclusion is what I am questioning. Of course the first experimental fusion reactors will be expensive. That does not mean that future iterations on their design will never be commercially viable.

My point was that when it comes to something like fusion as an energy source, it is worth thinking in terms of centuries, not just short term. $22 billion sounds like a lot of money, but it really isn’t when evaluated in context of the goals of the project.

In 2016 the annual global expenditure on military budgets was almost $1.7 TRILLION. (Source: World military spending: Increases in the USA and Europe, decreases in oil-exporting countries | SIPRI )

That $22 billion for ITER is coming from China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. So it’s spread around. I think it may well be a worthwhile effort. Obviously there are experts on both sides of the debate, as is often the case.

Let's think about this another way:

Total 2017 US electricity generation was about 8.205 _trillion_ kWh.
(EIA - Electricity Data)
so $22B is equivalent to a cost of about $0.0026814/kWh on _one_ year of US electricity generation.
US share is 9% of the cost.
 

jaguar36

Active Member
Apr 10, 2014
2,162
1,975
NJ
LPPFusion has not been around more than 40 years. It was incorporated in 2003. The President and Chief Scientist Eric Lerner has researched Dense Plasma Focus devices for that long. Originally funded by NASA JPL in the late 70s.
According to their own site from 2004 (spelling mistake is theirs) "Larecneville Plasma Physics, founded in 1974..."

Also, it looks like you live the next town over from LPP, have you done work there or have you visited their facility?
 

Bobfitz1

Active Member
Supporting Member
Sep 24, 2012
1,235
4,004
Ludlow, Vt
According to their own site from 2004 (spelling mistake is theirs) "Larecneville Plasma Physics, founded in 1974..."
Also, it looks like you live the next town over from LPP, have you done work there or have you visited their facility?

Thanks for pointing out the mistake. I'll pass it along to them to fix.
This clarification is from Eric Lerner:
"I started researching this project in the early 1980's. The first funding from JPL was 1994. $300,000 spread over 7 years. Stopped in 2001. We incorporated, started selling shares in 2003. Substantial funding in 2008. FF-1 2009."

I need to update my TMC profile as I recently relocated to Vermont. I first invested in 2011 when LPP stock was $50/share.
Several friends did the same after learning about the progress and potential impact if they might succeed. I've assisted at times with investor related activities (pro bono). I've been in their lab in Middlesex N.J. many times and watched test shots.
The ICCD camera images of various stages of the plasmoid forming are fascinating. They can be seen in various videos they have on the site and Youtube. Highly recommended.

The Wefunder campaign closed last night. It raised close to $1 million from 456 small investors who'd like to see if fusion can work. Those of us who have supported LPPF the past years believe the improvements to the DPF fusion research device this summer are likely to break their previous records for fusion output using deuterium. Switching to pB11 would be the next step. If major progress is made the SP will again be increased as each significant step closer lowers the risk to investors of losing their investments. In the event they ever reach net fusion output, that would be huge and the SP will go higher again.

I'll post a progress update end of this year, good or bad. If it's good, It would not surprise me that some on TMC may rue the day they missed picking up some shares at $125. I'll still post if there is no progress, so skeptics will have the chance to say they told everyone so. That will only be fair!
 

Bobfitz1

Active Member
Supporting Member
Sep 24, 2012
1,235
4,004
Ludlow, Vt
I was trying to find what their lab looked like and the address they have listed appears to be a self storage facility?

Correct. LPPF occupies a modest sized lab space in a multi use facility that has various size spaces used by machine shops and some light industrial use, as well as garden variety self storage rooms.
LPPF has always had to be economical with capital resources and when FF-1 was built, the lab size space was the right size and low cost. If you live in easy driving distance you might see if you can get a short tour before they get crazy busy installing the new vacuum chamber. If you saw the size and weight of the DPF device you'd appreciate why 5MW generators could cost so little should the science work. No giant superconducting magnets needed!

Contrast it's size and expense (< 6M to date) against the enormous facility, which has cost billions, for the NIF (National Ignition Facility) laser fusion facility. While it is still operated for Defense nuclear weapons testing work, the laser fusion effort has been abandoned due to lack of results commensurate with costs. Calculating fusion efficiency ('Wall Plug' efficiency - how much fusion energy is produced for the amount of energy input) FF-1 is far ahead of the best NIF ever produced.
As an aside, as the NIF laser fusion program was threatened with Congressional defunding, they put out press releases claiming a fictional breakthrough. Fictional because they weren't using the actual amount of energy expended to pump and fire the huge number of lasers as the energy input! "Roughly 500 megajoules of electricity feed lasers that then pump out 1.9 megajoules worth of energy."
 
I'm a physicist who worked in aerospace for some decades. Since 2016 I have been developing my own new propulsion system. For years I had thought, like most physicists, that a purely mechanical system could give no unbalanced thrust. However, by thinking a bit on the theory and building some prototypes, I found that a mechanical system could in fact be very efficient - better than other new propulsion systems I had investigated. I.e. a well constructed system can give about 1N/W.

I have already been through 5 prototypes, getting nearer and nearer to a fully working system. Proto 5 remained aloft for just some seconds. I know how to correct the vibrations which were its downfall. It would be good to get an investor interested or an engineer to work with me on it, under NDA.
 

Dutchie

Active Member
Jun 9, 2013
1,822
6,640
Canada
The Beryllium experiments have started!
First they will use Deuterium as fuel. Later in the year they will start using the Hydrogen-Boron fuel. Since they already achieved the sufficient temperature and confinement time they now need to increase the density by about 10,000 fold. With this new Beryllium electrodes they expect to achieve that.

This is a remarkable experiment. No scientist has ever come with an explanation that would prevent this fusion research not obtaining its goal of using a dense plasma focus for creating net energy by HB fusion.

Beryllium experiment started! In the first week, we fired 13 shots, starting June 4. As anticipated, first shot vaporized thin beryllium oxide layer, creating dust. Good news is that the dust is steadily being cleared off, with very little evidence of additional erosion, in contrast to heavy early erosion with tungsten. We started to get measurable fusion on third shot and fusion yield has gone up ten-fold since then. However, not close to a record yet. The clean-up has to proceed further to get good symmetry. We’re not sure how fast it will go, so patience, focus fusion fans! Other good news is that our new ceramic switches are functioning well, as are three new instruments: two Langmuir probes for the ion beam and an electron beam Rogowski coil.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cosmacelf

Bobfitz1

Active Member
Supporting Member
Sep 24, 2012
1,235
4,004
Ludlow, Vt
This is a remarkable experiment. No scientist has ever come with an explanation that would prevent this fusion research not obtaining its goal of using a dense plasma focus for creating net energy by HB fusion.

The Dense Plasma Focus fusion approach is remarkable in several ways. The short lived magnetic plasmoid created during a shot captures and compresses a small amount of the fuel gas (deuterium now, pB11 likely in 2020) so powerfully, the plasma KEV is equivalent to several billion degrees K. This is why it would be able to fuse hydrogen and boron 11.

Equally important is the small size and cost of the hardware used to create the plasmoids. The actual cost of the DPF hardware is less than $ 1M. This is many times less than the size and cost of any other fusion approach. It will be a critical advantage should the approach ever succeed. On Earth it will mean the KWh cost of commercial generator power may be competitive or better than future solar PV costs. In space applications the small size and weight will permit far faster transit time to Mars and other destinations. On Mars, compact fusion power plants will better supply the needed energy than PV panels receiving half the solar energy as on Earth.

Experiments now beginning with beryllium electrodes are to better understand all the parameters influencing optimal plasmoid formation and tweaking the fusion device to consistently deliver the optimal conditions. The better the plasmoid symmetry and compression power, the higher the plasma density and the greater the portion of the trapped fuel will fuse and generate fusion energy output.

Should the new rounds of research experiments prove that steady progress in ramping plasma density produces higher and higher fusion output, it will strongly suggest that further hardware refinements can move fusion output closer to break even. I.e. fusion energy produced equal to or greater than the amount of input energy. Dutchie is correct that plasma physicists doing peer review of LPPFusion research papers have not yet found physics reasons why DPFs cannot reach fusion net energy production. That doesn't mean this line of research may not one day hit such a roadblock. The only way to find out is to do the science. We may see several times the highest per shot output previously produced by LPPF test shots in the next few months. That would be a very promising sign for further progress by LPPFusion.
 

Electroman

Well-Known Member
Aug 18, 2012
7,507
11,025
TX
The Dense Plasma Focus fusion approach is remarkable in several ways. The short lived magnetic plasmoid created during a shot captures and compresses a small amount of the fuel gas (deuterium now, pB11 likely in 2020) so powerfully, the plasma KEV is equivalent to several billion degrees K. This is why it would be able to fuse hydrogen and boron 11.

Equally important is the small size and cost of the hardware used to create the plasmoids. The actual cost of the DPF hardware is less than $ 1M. This is many times less than the size and cost of any other fusion approach. It will be a critical advantage should the approach ever succeed. On Earth it will mean the KWh cost of commercial generator power may be competitive or better than future solar PV costs. In space applications the small size and weight will permit far faster transit time to Mars and other destinations. On Mars, compact fusion power plants will better supply the needed energy than PV panels receiving half the solar energy as on Earth.

Experiments now beginning with beryllium electrodes are to better understand all the parameters influencing optimal plasmoid formation and tweaking the fusion device to consistently deliver the optimal conditions. The better the plasmoid symmetry and compression power, the higher the plasma density and the greater the portion of the trapped fuel will fuse and generate fusion energy output.

Should the new rounds of research experiments prove that steady progress in ramping plasma density produces higher and higher fusion output, it will strongly suggest that further hardware refinements can move fusion output closer to break even. I.e. fusion energy produced equal to or greater than the amount of input energy. Dutchie is correct that plasma physicists doing peer review of LPPFusion research papers have not yet found physics reasons why DPFs cannot reach fusion net energy production. That doesn't mean this line of research may not one day hit such a roadblock. The only way to find out is to do the science. We may see several times the highest per shot output previously produced by LPPF test shots in the next few months. That would be a very promising sign for further progress by LPPFusion.

Does that mean they are ready to ask for more money? Not that there is anything wrong with that.
 
Last edited:
  • Funny
Reactions: Nikxice

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top