Focus Fusion, Truth or Myth?

  • #1
Hi everyone,

Im currently in the way of learning about fusion to prepare myself for a thesis in this area. The method of colliding beams was what came to my mind the most naturally at first and it has catched my interest ever since. So, this is what i want to ask: Is there any serious articles that study the viability of this method (aka focus fusion*)? Or rather, could this method have some critical issue that is difficult/impossible to solve?

Im aware that the usual colliders would not give you enough events (i.e. enough beam density) to break even in energy, but this is not immposible to solve in principle. And all types of reactors face this problem, so density should be equally important in all of them. Unless the relation between event rates and density is drastically different in colliding devices (if it is I would like to know why).

Losing particles due to the coloumb interactions is a real problem though. Is it not possible to "recycle" some of these particles? Im thinking about collider rings here (cyclic paths).

So, is focus fusion posible?

PD#1: I would like to know about a good introductory text on fusion. A text on a more general topic such as "introduction to nuclear physics" that treats fusion neatly is also fine.
PD#2: Are http://focusfusion.org/" [Broken] a serious group? They seem like pseudo-physicist-hippies to mo me at first glance.

*Focus fusion may not be exacly the same as colliding beams. But im refering to the general idea of using the energy of a beam to start fusion instead of the usual thermic energy.
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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Focus Fusion (Referring to the site you linked) doesn't use colliding beams to do fusion. The short answer is they use a custom designed set of electrodes that cause the plasma to form a specific shape that results in fusion. From everything I've seen of them they are very legit and are accomplishing fusion with it. The actual physics of it can be found on the focus fusion website. Wether they can get it to produce useable amounts of power still remains to be seen of course.

As per your question about colliding beams, the problem is the losses you sustain when atoms don't fuse. They end up scattering at all different angles. The only way to contain these would be to design it so that those scattered ones still transfer energy or collide with other particles, resulting in a design that is definitively not a colliding design. =)

Also, remember that for an atom, the kinetic energy and thermal energy are the same thing. Colliding beams of particles is equivalent to heating them up to a certain temperature. In both cases the particles simply move around faster.
 
  • #3
Ok I think I understand what focus fusion is now, certainly not colliding beams. I guess I should make a new thread now, to have a more appropiate title.
 

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