July 10, 2008 | 10 Comments
Monday saw the Internet come alive with a posting on a New Mars forum where it’s thought with considerable credibility that Dr. Richard Nebel of EMC2 discussed some of his thoughts. The news made was an aside by Dr. Nebel that the one of the next logical steps could be a larger Bussard unit that may well go to net power out – or be the first working fusion power production unit.
I dare say now that Dr. Robert W. Bussard is a permanent and highly significant fixture in humanity’s history. Dr. Nebel also seems to be locking his place in this field quite solidly too. Dr. Nebel’s candid and forthright answers and discussion in the forum is refreshing and rewarding. I almost wonder if the forum is a setup to get information out that a large and intensely interested core group follows very closely. While the current machine has results that remain in embargo due to the arrangements made in the beginning of the funding, as a sensible precaution, the team led by Dr. Nebel has exceeded the expectations both in time to completion and the results. So they’re ready there for the granting agency’s review and the independent third party examination.
It would seem the extra time available from building the more robust unit that Nebel and associates have built more than meets the expectations set out by Dr. Bussard. That may be the source of the confidence and ideas that are getting into conversation. The last time Dr. Nebel was interviewed he offered that the company could prepare and ship workable research units of the current model. This time he’s considering the building of a medium sized machine in the 1-½ meter range that would be large enough to make net power at a theoretical projection of 100MW. In the course of the forum discussion Nebel wrote, “Our contention is that since our projections for a power producing device only require a machine 1.5 meters in diameter (that) would in theory be able to produce something around 100MW of net power. (W)e might as well build the next one in that size range and accept the risk. The machines just aren’t all that expensive.”
“Aren’t all that expensive.” Wow, there’s wake up remark both for the fund granting type folks, but especially the suppliers of innovations and materials to build out the production product someday. It seems that its time for investors in the obvious supply areas to swing around and have hard look at what’s going on.
That means one of the things I hope to come out from the release of the details at the end of the embargo is “bill of components” and a set of specifications for what is used and what is needed. The obvious are the power controls of the unit, vacuum vessel, the magnets both the current experimental and proposed future designs, gas metering devices and in particular, the media used to harvest the energy from the expelled highly energized helium. There could be a huge manufacturing boom in a couple of years or so for the U.S.
Need more? Try the Daily Kos diary about the project by Roger Fox. Noted here is the Talk-Polywell.org forums. You will benefit by watching M. Simon, a well versed and highly informed person running the IEC Fusion Technology blog. And a favorite of mine, Brian Wang’s Next Big Future.
IEC Fusion looks to be a technology that may well be the coming innovation that will have a “drive to the lowest cost per Kw” effect on electrical power production. With this, wind, solar, thorium fueled atomic fission, uranium fission, coal, natural gas and any others like BlackLight, it seems a competition is coming for the production of electricity.