Eric Lerner and his team at Lawrenceville Plasma Physics (LPP) cleared a significant hurdle in the quest for fusion beyond the breakeven of more power out than consumed using Focus Fusion.

Focus Fusion has now come to the billion-degree plasma temperature that yields the confinement of ions with energies in excess of 100 keV, the equivalent of a temperature of over 1 billion degrees C.

Reaching energies over 100 keV is important in achieving a long-sought goal of fusion research.  That goal is to burn hydrogen-boron fuel, also known by its technical abbreviation, pB11. PB11 is considered the ideal fusion fuel, since it produces energy in the form of charged particles that can be directly converted to electricity.

Focus Fusion DPF Central Electrodes. Click image for more info.

PB11 as a fuel would fuse over a few steps into helium that releases electrons that can be captured and fed into electric power production.

Like all small fusion efforts the Lerner team has had expended a long time and great effort to secure funding and work through the engineering needed to deliver the energy into the device so the theory can be tested.  Lerner has gone through several generations and going over the billion degree mark is significant.  So much so that the team has prepared a research paper that has been accepted for publication by the peer-reviewed Journal of Fusion Energy. (Link will be updated when the paper appears.)  The paper is titled “Theory and experimental program for p-B11 Fusion with the Dense Plasma Focus.”

This must be a grand moment for Mr. Lerner and his team.  The paper is particularly significant as it’s the first peer-reviewed publication of the basic theory guiding LPP’s pursuit of useful fusion energy from the dense plasma focus, as well as featuring the first experimental results from the team’s Focus Fusion-1 experimental device.

Congratulations are in order for the theory, the effort and perseverance to get so far with now peer-reviewed acknowledgment.

It’s even better than that.  Some trials hit even higher numbers than 100 keV.  Of significance here and now, runs hit 160 keV and 220 keV.  Those results hint that the goal of 600 keV is within range of the test apparatus at LLP.  Clearing that goal may show the theoretical point where pB11 fuses and offers a new electrical power source.

Should the team power over the 600keV target fusing the pB11 fuel on the current apparatus the emitted speeding ionic particles would need to be coupled directly to generate electricity.   The beam of ions would be fed to a yet to be developed high tech transformer into current that can fed to capacitors, which would both pulse the energy back through the device to keep the process going, as well as send excess energy out for sale use on the grid.  The development work isn’t finished when the pB11 fuses.

A direct electrical feed jumps over the conventional step of harvesting heat and converting water to steam in order to drive turbines and generators. That process accounts for 80% of the total capital costs required in a typical power plant and allows a significant loss of energy. By going straight from the fusion energy to electricity, Lerner’s Focus Fusion process eliminates that costs, equipment and losses altogether, enabling streamlining of the process and a much smaller size to achieve equivalent power output.

That poses a very different cost to produce power.

As Lerner’s experience grows it seems that about 5 MW per device might approximate the yield.  With a real world idea of the plant cost from the apparatus experience suggests a $300,000, that’s three hundred thousand dollars, not millions, in cost  in commercial production.  That would drive the installed cost down to under, ready? $0.60 per watt with operating cost somewhere way below one cent per kwh.  Even if off by a factor of ten its still very low cost.

Keep in mind that 5 MW is what the largest wind turbines produce making the Focus Fusion unit a large neighborhood sized generator.  With no radiation and only an X-ray source that can be harvested and returned to the process like the dentist’s X-ray collector scaled way up, the likelihood Focus Fusion could go commercial looks quite good.

It’s time that the interested parties start allocating some attention.  In a competitive world being the low cost provider is key to profits and survival.

Again and with great pleasure this writer sends the most heartfelt and deep respectful congratulations to the team at LPP.  Both Mr. Lerner and Aaron Blake have been gracious with time and information in educating your writer with details and insight on what they’re doing.

The links above will connect you to LPP’s best informative sites and here is one more that isn’t quite so technical and is quite well written so that nearly anyone can grasp the importance of the week’s news, Sterling D. Allan at Pure Energy Systems News. Sterling’s work is of a quality that allows those without the engineering or physics training to understand what is taking place.  It’s a recommended page.


5 Comments so far

  1. Matt Musson on January 14, 2011 11:47 AM

    It looks like they are generating enough heat to actually fuse Boron. Dr. Lerner told me that up until now it has only been done in particle accelerators.

    They just upgraded their device from using automotive spark plugs this year! SO, this really is shade tree mechanic’s fusion.

    They will need to upgrade their design to be able to fire all 12 capacitors at the same time without causing the tungston rods to shift and crack the ceramic housing. So, look for a major upgrade to the machine to be completed in April.


  2. Matt Musson on January 15, 2011 10:47 AM

    Focus fusion is the very definition of a ‘Black Swan’ – an unpredictable technology leap that changes the entire world.

    FF if successful, would mean that the 50% of humanity that still heats and cooks with wood and Dung – would have a real future.

    If we could just have a true battery breakthrough – the future would be rosy!

  3. Nuclear Fusion Power Plant- Clean Infinite Energy on January 21, 2011 2:00 AM

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  4. Joaquin Pov on May 26, 2011 6:18 PM

    Thanks for posting. Good to see that not everyone is using RSS feeds to build their blogs 😉

  5. Leanne Shulthess on September 1, 2011 7:13 PM

    Awesome post. I so good to see someone taking the time to share this information

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