The info sharks at Talk Polywell have found the U.S Navy is extending and it seems funding Dr. Robert Bussard’s IEC fusion theory at EMC2 with the eighth device called the WB-8. The break out for the information came from Brian Wang’s NextBigFuture site.
The official document’s prime comment is, “During the course of the (previous) contracted study several anomalies related to how electrons were fed into the device were discovered. These anomalies must be characterized and solutions created if the device is to be made functional.”
The time and funds are then, “ . . . additional effort will require the incumbent contractor to further their studies by employing independently powered electron gun arrays . . .”
The status is given quite a lift with, “A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the progress of EMC2’s work to provide a recommendation to the Office of Naval Research (ONR) on the merits of the project. The committee consists of internationally recognized, independent experts in the field of magnetically confined energy producing devices. These committee members are qualified independent scientific and academic experts who were designated by ONR to evaluate and provide impartial opinions on the research done by EMC2. The committee validated the progress made by EMC2. The experimental results to date were consistent with the underlying theoretical framework of the Polywell fusion concept and, in the opinion of the committee, merited continuation and expansion.”
Tom Ligon offered in view of the anomalies most likely being a matter of the machine’s scale, “Way back in the early 90’s they thought there would be two ways to build a wiffle-ball. One was to inject the electrons and then build up the magnetic field. That’s not the easiest power control problem but it certainly can be done and is an option.”
Dr. Bussard wanted to build the demonstration machine because he understood the potential trouble in pushing electrons into the small Wiffle Ball devices. In a larger machine, the electrons would predominantly come from the ionization of fuel. This puts EMC2 in the position to solve problems for the smaller devices that won’t be relevant for devices that fill out the theory to scale.
Readily admitted, your humble writer has a soft spot for Dr. Bussard the Polywell method to confine and Bussard’s theory to drive fusion. Its elegant, and the single most intuitive method to drive nuclei past the Coulumb barrier.
Bussard had a great idea to take the work of Farnsworth to overcome the electric repulsion the electromagnetic force to get close enough for the attractive nuclear strong force to take over fusing the particles together and releasing the energy. Bussard was also first to realize that fusing pB-11, a gas of Boron would release highly electrically charged atoms instead of vast amounts of heat – so producing a vast amount of electric power. So far, and we’re pretty far along, Dr. Bussard has been right and pretty accurate as well.
That makes the news of the review and the added time and funds very reassuring. There isn’t a surprise that the little WB-8 needs help in getting the electrons loaded, Dr. Bussard knew this would happen. But bureaucratic funding is going to check each step and that’s no surprise as well.
The news is good, the steps are getting made, progress should come to an irrefutable demonstration device in a few years, and net power from fusion will be a done thing.
More waiting, but every step will have the design and engineering worked out – and that will be worthwhile later on.