For those watching fusion, particularly the fusion ideas that are based in human effort spent on getting fusion events over needing so much effort and money spent on the confinement matters, as seen in the tokamak designs, the EMC2 website update that M. Simon spotted and got circulating is fine news indeed.

There are also rumors that reporter Alan Boyle who has spoken with Bussard Fusion’s leader Dr. Richard Nebel in the past, will publish sometime today with perhaps more news and surely more insight.  This paragraph will be a link as soon as I get it.

Quick review: Bussard Fusion currently is an effort to take the theory of the late Robert Bussard into full fusion net power over the coming years. The new value today is that the EMC2 website is saying clearly that the U.S. Navy’s investment of taxpayers dollars met expectations. To quote the main point:

Fusion R&D Phase 1 – Validate and extend WB-6 results with WB-7 Device:
1.5 years / $1.8M, Successfully Completed.

Bussard Fusion WB7 At Work. Click image for the largest view.

Well, since the next stage was funded, one has to have thought that is the case.

Some speculation has it that the website update is a preamble to a request filed under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.  The Talk forum has an intelligent, strongly inquisitive and well versed group of members that includes intellectual leadership of M Simon, deep working knowledge from Tom Ligon, and even Dr. Nebel has been seen contributing.  A few of the forum members at Talk Polywell are behind the FOIA effort with honorable motives in search of the material seen by the fund granting personnel.

The idea to keep a lid on data has merits as well, but reasonably, releasing the data, which is likely well past the average interested party or spectator’s grasp, is something well worth knowing about for a person simply concerned about abundant electrical power to those interested in the science and fusion yielding the first net power production.  Remember, the Bussard Fusion effort Dr. Nebel is leading will be a breakthrough with improvements coming for decades.

The next step, which is already funded, to design, build and test a larger scale WB-8 Polywell Device over 2 years for $7 million is in progress and could be working at research data production late in 2010 or in early 2011.  This step is much more of a working experiment stage.  As the news makes clear and the pretty blue glow in the photos make clear, Dr. Bussard’s idea does in fact work.  The task is to make what works, workable.  That’s what the $7 million will get started.

Bussard Fusion WB-8 Design Graphic. Click image for more info.

Is all this worthy of the attention?  Sure.  The EMC2 website offers some new graphics that have been added here as well.  The speculation has it that the next stage seems to be large enough to try fuels up to the boron candidate.  If so, and boron fuel fuses with the projected products, the new major platform for fusions future would be cast in stone.  The question is – who will get there first, the Nebel led Bussard Fusion team, the Lerner Fusion team, or the secretive TriAlpha Energy Group?

As soon as, and if, the FOIA material arrives in the hands of the Talk Polywell forum members and they digest it far enough to make a post worthy for your attention this writer will be back on the story.

It’s a grand story, too.  Even with the nits and bits coming out months apart, it’s likely a historical time to be alive and watch.  Lets hope that the boron fuel is tried and fuses, the resulting fused material decays into the helium as projected with all that energy available.  Wouldn’t that just be something incredible?

EMC2's Proposed 100 Megawatt Fusion System. Click image for the largest view.

To get a feel of “what this is all about” try Brian Wang’s site with Sander Olson’s interview with Dr. Nebel.


6 Comments so far

  1. M. Simon on March 19, 2010 6:21 AM


  2. Matt Musson on March 19, 2010 7:29 AM

    Lerner and the Focus Fusion people are on schedule and have demonstrated results inline with expectations. Now Nebel and his EMC team are exceeding their expectations. Their next phase may well generate Net Energy.

    If either, or both, actually work – the ITER people will have a ‘Vache’! (French for cow.)
    Their projected 40 year gravy train will come to a big fat screeching halt.

    Of course, if GE had not hounded Philo Farnsworth to death, we’d have had fusion energy in 1969.

  3. Matt Musson on March 20, 2010 8:03 AM

    Looks like BORG fusion energy.

    Do you suppose it will assimilate the jokers at CERN and ITER?

  4. Marc Verdi on March 23, 2010 9:32 PM

    All of the politics aside, I am willing to work to see Dr. Bussard’s vision proven. I am a project manager with VC experience.

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