Princeton FRC work

Point out news stories, on the net or in mainstream media, related to polywell fusion.

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Skipjack
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Princeton FRC work

Postby Skipjack » Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:36 pm

Under the cover of space propulsion...
The basic reactor design reminds me a lot of the work done by Dr Grossnickle at the UW before his lab was closed (same fuel mix and confinement type). It does not seem like he is involved with the project though.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/03/direct ... .html#more
Follow the link in the article to the PDF.
Either way, I am quite excited by this work. It shows a lot of promise and it also somewhat validates the work of the other FRC teams like Tri Alpha and Helion.

ohiovr
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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby ohiovr » Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:26 pm

Can it produce power on earth? If not why would it be any better in space? For the benefit of the doubt maybe space makes somethings about fusion easier like high vacuum environments? But isn't planning this way like a hobo planning on what he will do when he makes his first million?

Skipjack
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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby Skipjack » Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:37 pm

ohiovr wrote:Can it produce power on earth? If not why would it be any better in space? For the benefit of the doubt maybe space makes somethings about fusion easier like high vacuum environments? But isn't planning this way like a hobo planning on what he will do when he makes his first million?

It uses He3, which is rather rare and expensive as a fuel. This does not make it economical for terrestrial power generation, but makes it useful for space exploration, where the cost of the helium fuel would be only a small part of the cost of the project.

ohiovr
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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby ohiovr » Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:10 pm

Skipjack wrote:
ohiovr wrote:Can it produce power on earth? If not why would it be any better in space? For the benefit of the doubt maybe space makes somethings about fusion easier like high vacuum environments? But isn't planning this way like a hobo planning on what he will do when he makes his first million?

It uses He3, which is rather rare and expensive as a fuel. This does not make it economical for terrestrial power generation, but makes it useful for space exploration, where the cost of the helium fuel would be only a small part of the cost of the project.


Odd.. Tritium is easier to fuse and more energetic to boot.. though a lot of the energy comes from that 17 MeV angry neutron..

Not to mention a bit easier to come by...

D Tibbets
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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby D Tibbets » Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:21 pm

That angry neutron is the problem. Shielding against that in a spacecraft would require a lot of weight. Also, it would require a thermal conversion to get electricity. No direct conversion for that portion of the fusion output.
Again, a lot of weight in radiators. While not as good as P-B11, the D-He3 fuel has much less neutrons and lends itself to direct conversion.

As has been pointed out in the past. A Polywell, or perhaps FRC might be used for generating terrestrial power from D-D fusion. The He3 produced could be collected and used for space based D-He3 reactors. This may be cheaper than mining He3 on the Moon. A Polywell would lend itself to He3 production (and tritium production) well as it is not an ignition machine. The He3 and tritium, once produced do not participate in further fusion unless reinjected into the machine. I'm not sure if the several FRC approaches could do the same . Note that Bussard explored recycling He3 and tritium in a primary D-D burning Polywell in order to boost total fusion power. This may be necessary to obtain net power out if D-D fusion alone is marginal. In a FRC the same may apply directly (if the fusion products thermalize with the fuel D-D in the machine), or if it is reinjected as in the Polywell.

PS: Also note that Bussard suggested using the neutron from D-D fusion to convert Boron10 in a surrounding blanket into an excited B11 which then breaks down to release increased thermal heating than the neutron alone would. Another method to squeeze out a little more energy if needed.

Dan Tibbets
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asdfuogh
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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby asdfuogh » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:20 am

Either way, I am quite excited by this work. It shows a lot of promise and it also somewhat validates the work of the other FRC teams like Tri Alpha and Helion.


Tri-Alpha doesn't need Princeton to validate its work. Tri-Alpha's team works with a budget that's bigger than the Princeton group, and probably bigger than any single plasma physics group, considering most of Tri-Alpha is focused on C2 as well. There's a difference between staying quiet like Tri-Alpha because you don't want to arouse speculating masses and jealousy from other labs, and staying quiet because there's only five researchers and a giant ass government tape over your mouth.

Skipjack
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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby Skipjack » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:02 pm

asdfuogh wrote:
Either way, I am quite excited by this work. It shows a lot of promise and it also somewhat validates the work of the other FRC teams like Tri Alpha and Helion.


Tri-Alpha doesn't need Princeton to validate its work. Tri-Alpha's team works with a budget that's bigger than the Princeton group, and probably bigger than any single plasma physics group, considering most of Tri-Alpha is focused on C2 as well. There's a difference between staying quiet like Tri-Alpha because you don't want to arouse speculating masses and jealousy from other labs, and staying quiet because there's only five researchers and a giant ass government tape over your mouth.

Maybe "validate" was the wrong word. Either way, Helion also works with FRCs and they do need more funding (from what I know).

asdfuogh
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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby asdfuogh » Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:53 am

FRC funding has stopped and started several times before. The problem is that most physics work involving fusion plasmas is centered on tokamaks/tokamak-like devices or laser inertial (well, pretty much just NIF's funding is the biggest of all fusion projects). So, most FRC research is space plasma based, or propulsion based (at least, most of the current academic ones, I think). Helion Energy needs money because their nearby university killed its plasma research group (http://depts.washington.edu/rppl/) which might have made it look bad to the investors (I'm not sure). I also know Tri-Alpha has had to lay off some people lately.. so.. hmm..

Still, the nature of private research is that the venture capitalists must be satisfied, and this is no easy task.

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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby ladajo » Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:57 pm

Where are you?
The development of atomic power, though it could confer unimaginable blessings on mankind, is something that is dreaded by the owners of coal mines and oil wells. (Hazlitt)
What I want to do is to look up C. . . . I call him the Forgotten Man. (Sumner)

Skipjack
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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby Skipjack » Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:14 pm

asdfuogh wrote:FRC funding has stopped and started several times before. The problem is that most physics work involving fusion plasmas is centered on tokamaks/tokamak-like devices or laser inertial (well, pretty much just NIF's funding is the biggest of all fusion projects). So, most FRC research is space plasma based, or propulsion based (at least, most of the current academic ones, I think). Helion Energy needs money because their nearby university killed its plasma research group (http://depts.washington.edu/rppl/) which might have made it look bad to the investors (I'm not sure). I also know Tri-Alpha has had to lay off some people lately.. so.. hmm..
Still, the nature of private research is that the venture capitalists must be satisfied, and this is no easy task.

MSNW (of which Helion is a spin off) is still associated with the University of Washington, where John Slough is a professor. It was Dr Grossnickles FRC lab that was closed. Interestingly Grossnickles work was almost identical to the work done at Princeton (which he does not seem to be associated with) that seems to be making good progress.
From what I understand, Helions biggest problem with getting private funding is because much of their technology is not patentable due to prior art. This is sad, because this also means that it is pretty solid. They have been getting some more DOE funding recently though (though not as much as they need, from what I understand). I really hope someone gives them some funding. They are my personal front runners.

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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby mvanwink5 » Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:00 pm

I also know Tri-Alpha has had to lay off some people lately..
Well, that's not good news. I had thought they were scaling up, but plasma work is really hard (as I understand).
Near term, cheap, dark horse fusion hits the air waves, GF - TED, LM - Announcement. The race is on.

Skipjack
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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby Skipjack » Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:05 pm

mvanwink5 wrote:
I also know Tri-Alpha has had to lay off some people lately..
Well, that's not good news. I had thought they were scaling up, but plasma work is really hard (as I understand).

I thought they were still hiring.

asdfuogh
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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby asdfuogh » Sat Apr 19, 2014 4:46 am

Well, the source I heard it from isn't as close to Tri-Alpha, but that's the only reason I can say it out here. If I got the information directly, I wouldn't relay it here. However, as I know it, the investors' meeting went okay.. I was surprised by the lay off remark as well.

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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby rcain » Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:42 am

that doesn't sound like good news at all.

there really ought to be better coordinated international funding for such (leftfield) research - though we all agree technically 'difficult', i think also to blame is a lack of sense of 'urgency' in wanting to solve the problems, at all levels; whole careers are spent on this stuff & long term secured funding must often seem more important than finally proving an idea practical, or impractical.

i'm still hopeful we will see something good, eventually.

Skipjack
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Re: Princeton FRC work

Postby Skipjack » Thu Aug 25, 2016 5:15 am

PPPL gave a NIAC presentation of their FRC reactor/engine yesterday. Very interesting progress. Their engine would be incredibly compact and light weight, with pretty good thrust!
Here is the link to the video. PPPL presentation about 17 minutes in:
http://livestream.com/viewnow/NIAC2016/videos/133736664

Some great interaction with David Kirtley of Helion/MSNW during the QA. David seemed really excited about PPPL's thrust augmentation concept.

I am not sure, but I don't think PPPL's reactor can efficiently breed its own He3 by fusing D+D (for terrestrial use). At least it seems like they are optimizing their reactor to avoid D+D side reactions as much as possible. The neutron flux of D+D might be too much for the reactor design.
Helion's reactor separates most of the equipment from the "burn chamber", which makes the neutron damage less of an issue. But maybe Stephanie just did not talk about that in this presentation and they can breed He3 too (she talks about He3 mining on the moon, though).


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