Opinions on the Polywell fusion power system

Re: Polywell confinement fusion

No. Show me the proof, not some unsubstantiated claim from linkedin.
And until some legit publication is made, or public demo, there has been, will be, no proof in spite of some well meaning efforts.
 

Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,520
1,630
Re: Polywell confinement fusion

Not necessarily so, I wish I had the proper citation, Dr Nebel loved to comment how Polywells' plasma density or sumsuch thing was superior to a Tokamak. A proper search at talk-polywell would reveal the quote.

In fact the comparison of accomplishments is most relevant, and I predict will become more so as research continues. I predict in 20 months Polywell will be at a development stage equal to or more advanced than the Tokamak. In fact if the current trend continues Polywell will be showing Net power from the PB-11 reaction, before the ITER gets fully warmed up.
So by October 2011, one predicts that a Polywell will be generating net power using the p-B11 reaction? That would be great!
 
I had no idea the ITER was 10 to 15 yrs ahead of schedule.....my bad
 

Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,520
1,630
Dave, I'm sure April 2009 is a typo.
Oops, thanks should be 2010 of course.

So by October 2011, one predicts that a Polywell will be generating net power using the p-B11 reaction? That would be great!
Best case scenario is 2015. Most likely they would try a D-D first, but if WB-8 is promising enough and there's enough interest simultaneous D-D/p-B-11 projects aren't impossible.

ITER is likely to work, but it's going to take decades and barring major advances tokamaks won't be economically viable until all the fission fuels run out, which is 1,000 to 250,000 years away.
 

mheslep

Gold Member
255
727
Update:

http://www.emc2fusion.org/
http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2010/03/23/2237165.aspx [Broken]
http://www.talk-polywell.org/bb/viewtopic.php?t=2037
That's about as minimal an update as minimal can get. They added the words 'validate and extend' to their 1-page website? No hint of results or a paper? The interview says, some 20 years after the origination of Bussard's basic confinement concept, that he wants a few $100k to "do some basic physics on this"?

Nebel deserves credit for being disciplined about not releasing any idle speculation whatsoever, but after some time he's also expected to explain why he hasn't released results on the work he has done.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Yes, he could at the very least say if it's working the way it's predicted. I think it would be good for everyone if they released SOME data - less speculation amongst us spectators. Of course one can draw the conclusion that it's at least still on (and did not fail - terribly), otherwise the Navy wouldn't fund it.
 
Well, it's DOD not DOE. He is under a gag order. Someone over at T-P even put together a FOIA request, which was denied.

WB-7 did validate WB-6 results, according to Rick. Here's what's ahead:

CLIN 0001 - 30 Apr 2010 (= plasma wiffleball 8 ) - Completion of device build.
CLIN 0002 - 30 Apr 2011 (= Data) - Completion of WB8 testing
CLIN 0003 - 31 Oct 2011 (= Optional WB 8.1) - Completion of optional device build
CLIN 0004 - 31 Oct 2012 (= Optional Data) - Completion of optional device testing

The optional WB-8.1 would attempt to fuse p-B11, a first in reactor-type fusion machines afaik. If they pick up this option next Apr we can infer WB-8 results weren't a total disaster.

At the Oct 2012 deadline there is an option for the Navy to fund the $200M WB-D (or WB-9) prototype reactor. We will know if this happens that the loss scaling was something friendly, like the B^.25 * r^2 Bussard claimed. If it doesn't happen, there's a good chance we will see some data.

My rough estimate is WB-8 should produce something around 500W of fusion, hopefully with current not greatly exceeding that of WB-7 (need to do the math on this). It has .8T magnets and is about 5/3 larger than WB-7, which produced about 2 mw of fusion with .1T magnets.
 
Last edited:

mheslep

Gold Member
255
727
Well, it's DOD not DOE. He is under a gag order. ...
What's the source for that? I've never read Nebel saying he was gagged by contract, and I've read most of his posts at TP.
 

mheslep

Gold Member
255
727
At that point there is an option for the Navy to fund the $200M prototype reactor. We will know if this happens that the loss scaling was something friendly, like the B^.25 * r^2 Bussard claimed. If it doesn't happen, there's a good chance we will see some data.
We don't know how something performs just because the government funds it in the seven figure range. The public will know when we get a real paper with experimental results.
 
I don't have a link, but I think he has said it, either on T-P or to Alan Boyle (check some of his earliest posts). Bussard has stated he could not publish for the same reason. Tom Ligon (who worked with Bussard) has also supported this.

If they fund an eight-figure reactor, we can make some reasonable inferences about the upper limit of the losses that would have been acceptable. I certainly would prefer to see a paper, but that may be optimistic unless funding falls through at some point.
 
Last edited:

mheslep

Gold Member
255
727
I don't have a link, but I think he has said it, either on T-P
Could be, but like I said I read through and have never seen such.

or to Alan Boyle
No.
(check some of his earliest posts). Bussard has stated he could not publish for the same reason. Tom Ligon (who worked with Bussard) has also supported this.
Yes years ago and well publicized, and which has absolutely nothing to do with this current work.
 
It has quite a bit to do with the current work, as it's the same sponsors that gagged Bussard. I don't know why you would expect them to gag Bussard and not Nebel.
 
OK, I bit the bullet and dug around till I found his statements:

We anticipate that we will be getting a lot of data over the next few months. Consequently, it would good to let you know what to expect from us in terms of information:

1. We can’t release data. The DOD has to determine what it wants to release. Eventually this will all come out, but they are our customer and this is their call. We are free to discuss anything which has been released (such as the WB-6) but they will control the new data. I’m willing to discuss where we are and what we are learning, but I can’t give you a lot of numbers.

2. Don’t expect us to be making a lot of pronouncements to the press like the cold fusion people did. We will have a very high level review panel that will be looking at our results, and we don’t want to prejudge their conclusions.
...
To all:

I understand that people are interested in our results, particularly on this website. I‘ll keep you informed. This is typical of DOD contracts, and the rationale behind it is pretty simple. They don’t want contractors making public statements that aren’t correct, or haven’t been looked at. That sort of thing can turn into a huge embarrassment.

The perfect example of that was the cold fusion mess. That was funded out of Advanced Energy Projects at the DOE. The Utah people got paranoid and went public before their work was adequately reviewed. Advanced Energy Projects no longer exists at the DOE. We’re not going to let that happen. We’re going to have a credible, independent review, and we won’t prejudge what they have to say.
http://www.talk-polywell.org/bb/viewtopic.php?p=5071&highlight=#5071

I've been following this as closely as anyone since Bussard's Tech Talk. The lack of information is extremely frustrating. I would love to see raw data and a paper. It may not happen anytime soon.
 
Last edited:

mheslep

Gold Member
255
727
I'm frustrated too. Though, it's better they say nothing than to exaggerate IMHO. Maybe the discussions and attention on the internet will generate some data being released (with the Navy's consent).
 
FWIW, Rick Nebel left this comment at Alan Boyle's:

As usual, I seem to have created some misconceptions by my comments. First of all, what we said on our website is that the work on the WB-7 has been completed. We did not discuss the results. If you would like to conjecture what those results are, let me suggest that you notice the fact that we are working on the WB-8 device. The WB-8 was not a part of Dr. Bussard’s original development plan. This device came about as a result of the peer review process which suggested that there were issues that needed to be resolved at a smaller scale before proceeding to a demo. This was a conclusion that EMC2 heartily concurred with. I don’t want to leave people with the impression that everything on the WB-7 is identical to the WB-6.
Secondly, in our contract with the DOD, EMC2 owns the commercialization rights for the Polywell. However, commercialization is not something that we can do with our DOD funding. That is what we would like to look at with any contributions from the website. This will enable us to:
1. Design an attractive commercial reactor package.
2. Identify the high leverage physics items that most impact the design (i.e. how good is good enough).
3. Give us a base design when we are ready to proceed to the next step.
 
I really hope they'll be successful. In retrospect, that is not hard to believe: they haven't been, from what I can tell, unsuccessful.
 
Some results were published shortly before Bussard's death:
http://www.askmar.com/ConferenceNotes/2006-9%20IAC%20Paper.pdf" [Broken]

Navy is putting several $M into this. I'd vote to move it ahead quickly. ITER is likely to be over $25B all said and done, with DEMO even more... so I say, spend $200M if the incremental work looks good and we may have a solution this decade instead of in 25 yrs.

ITER suffers from size - it's requirements are down now but, technology is changing very rapidly, with new materials, higher power lasers, etc. Odds, IMHO, are better than 90% that alternative fusion to ITER will win out, and perhaps during the current decade.

Still, in the scheme of things, $25B isn't that much... it's just that it's not even DEMO. But keep on until Polywell or another technology shows better promise - then put ITER on hold if necessary.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
We'll have to see what the loss scaling with B looks like in WB-8. Bussard suggested loss scaling looked like B^.25 (and radius squared). It will need to at least vaguely resemble that in order to be as economic as proponents hope.

Here's the IEC 2010 conference which has some papers on IEC in general and Polywells in particular.

http://www.plasma.ee.kansai-u.ac.jp/iec2010/ [Broken]
 
Last edited by a moderator:

mheslep

Gold Member
255
727
Here's the IEC 2010 conference which has some papers on IEC in general and Polywells in particular.

http://www.plasma.ee.kansai-u.ac.jp/iec2010/ [Broken]
From that I see senior Kulcinski still runs the Wisconsin IEC program. When he eventually leaves/retires will that be bring an end to US university IEC programs? I am aware of no others.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
I had forgotten about this post, but I LOVE the conversation and where it's going. I've been obsessed reading, re-reading, re-re-re-rereading just over and over again and learning about fusion projects.

I think more than anything, I hope the Polywell doesn't go the way of cold fusion.... If it's viable, I hope the DOD doesn't keep it under wraps.

A lot of good points made along the way. There has been so much research money poured into toka's, but I always read how break even is just around the corner (did I read right that if JET used a D-T mix they'd hit a Q of 1.25?) and that ITER is the real deal.

The only thing that bothers me is a lot of hype has been generated in so many avenues, but it always falls flat. I can understand they didn't see all the plasma instabilities (squeezing Jello with rubber bands?) but now I have a lot of faith since so much research has been in this area. I feel really confident about ITER since they have come a long way and so much research has been done. Especially with superconducting magnets.

I'll keep praying. (To the universe of course).

I just know if they can ever get fusion on the ball, we'll enter a new paradigm in humanity.
 

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving
Top