Small Tri Alpha news blurp

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

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mvanwink5
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby mvanwink5 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:57 pm

Norman is supposed to be ahead of schedule on its target temperature, but the final, PB11 target temperature, is an order of magnitude higher and will require a new machine. Norman is to prove temperature scaling while maintaining plasma longevity. The narrative is that the cause of being ahead of schedule is Google's machine learning program (euphemism for AI).

Tri Alpha has not laid out their future time line to start the new machine and achieve the PB11 target.
Near term, cheap, dark horse fusion hits the air waves, GF - TED, LM - Announcement. The race is on.

Skipjack
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby Skipjack » Thu Feb 15, 2018 2:00 am

Provided tests with Normal go well, TAE will start construction of their net gain machine in 2020 according to what TAE Technologies CEO Steven Specker said at the Seattle breakfast session on commercial fusion ventures, organized by the CleanTech Alliance:
https://www.geekwire.com/2018/commercia ... ectations/

Maui
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby Maui » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:27 am

I know Norman is not supposed to get them to PB11, but are there any more specific goals for Norman besides “hotter”? I think I recall a couple years ago 100M being mentioned, but I don’t recall reading any specific number since then.

mvanwink5
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby mvanwink5 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:36 am

From Skipjack's link above
“We are looking over the next 12 months to reach the milestone that Norman was designed for,” TAE Technologies CEO Steven Specker told GeekWire. TAE is targeting plasma temperatures in excess of 50 million degrees Celsius (90 million degrees Fahrenheit).

That would be the “the trigger for the next machine,” Specker said.

Like General Fusion, TAE has begun considering construction sites for the next machine, which Specker expects will demonstrate net energy gain.
Near term, cheap, dark horse fusion hits the air waves, GF - TED, LM - Announcement. The race is on.

Maui
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby Maui » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:36 am

Oh, guess I just needed to read Slipjack’s link: 50M. I have to say TAE’s plan for a net power machine by 2020 is the most tangible hope to date I’ve had for fusion. Almost enough to make me start thinking this is actually happening...

mvanwink5
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby mvanwink5 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:03 am

It looks like modeling software and hardware power have reached the point that the forward progress speed has jumped. That includes GM, TAE, EMC2, and likely Helion although I have not heard that from them (all these guys seem cutting edge on plasma).

It is hard to say from my stadium seat view how much speed will translate to shortened years, but modeling also reduces risk and so will also speed funding.

We are riding the technology tiger.
Near term, cheap, dark horse fusion hits the air waves, GF - TED, LM - Announcement. The race is on.

Skipjack
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby Skipjack » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:32 pm

Maui wrote:Oh, guess I just needed to read Slipjack’s link: 50M. I have to say TAE’s plan for a net power machine by 2020 is the most tangible hope to date I’ve had for fusion. Almost enough to make me start thinking this is actually happening...

Well, there is also Helion, which has a (roughly) 24 month cycle with their devices. They are currently building their next one and the one after that will aim for net gain (provided everything goes well and funding is available, which is always a big problem).
And I would not complete count out Tokamaks either. HTSCs make a huge difference for Toks and Tokamak Energy is planning to update their current test device to HTSCs next year, then do break even experiments by 2020, again provided that everything goes as planned and that the flow of funding continues. Tokamak Energy's funding is looking pretty good though, from what I gather. So I believe that for them, this is less of a question mark than for Helion. Though funding has been more stable for Helion in recent years (and so has been their progress), it is still relatively low level compared to the other two, which is somewhat paradox, since they seem to also need the least amount of funding of the three.
I am not sure if JET still has break even experiments in the books(from what I gather their funding has also been a bit more uncertain with Brexit and all that), as they had originally planned, but their next round of D+T tests was supposed to also achieve break even.

mvanwink5
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby mvanwink5 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:43 pm

Tokamaks have a size and first wall problem that lurks in the fine print where the real world lives. No Tokamak gets anywhere close to beta = 1. Some Toks will look good but only when compared to other Toks. Toks have really good lobbyists and high paid cheerleaders.
Near term, cheap, dark horse fusion hits the air waves, GF - TED, LM - Announcement. The race is on.

Skipjack
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby Skipjack » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:25 pm

mvanwink5 wrote:Tokamaks have a size and first wall problem that lurks in the fine print where the real world lives. No Tokamak gets anywhere close to beta = 1. Some Toks will look good but only when compared to other Toks. Toks have really good lobbyists and high paid cheerleaders.

The aforementioned high temperature super conductors can help a lot with the size problem. For magnetic confinement concepts, fusion output scales with the magnetic field to the 4th power. So doubling the magnetic field will increase the fusion power by a factor of 16. HTSCs like the REBCO HTSCs studied by the MIT and Tokamak Energy, do not loose conductivity with an increased magnetic field. So the magnetic field can be increased a lot and that will allow for much smaller devices. Tokamak Energy is also planning to use spherical Tokamaks, which bring an additional reduction in size. HTSCs help building more compact spherical Tokamaks. First wall problems can be mitigated and a big part of ITER is all about that. The MIT has also done some really good work on that.
I highly recommend that you take a good look at the work Dennis Whyte and his team at the MIT have done for ARC (and SPARC). There are several good videos on YouTube that are worth watching. I am not a fan of Tokamaks, but the recent advances in HTSCs and new engineering solutions make them look a lot more viable than they did just a few years ago.

mvanwink5
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby mvanwink5 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:46 pm

SJ, I realize you are not a fan of Toks. Just bear in mind that anything that helps Toks helps all other competing approaches. So Toks will always be in near dead last place. Great science projects though. The other point was that net power is only important if the fine print engineering has real solutions and that the sum does not put them in the white elephant zone, which it does. Finally, for myself, I prefer not to echo the sales pitches of lobbyists, but that is just me.

Again, thanks for the link to the latest Geekwire.
Near term, cheap, dark horse fusion hits the air waves, GF - TED, LM - Announcement. The race is on.

Skipjack
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby Skipjack » Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:16 am

mvanwink5 wrote:SJ, I realize you are not a fan of Toks. Just bear in mind that anything that helps Toks helps all other competing approaches. So Toks will always be in near dead last place. Great science projects though. The other point was that net power is only important if the fine print engineering has real solutions and that the sum does not put them in the white elephant zone, which it does. Finally, for myself, I prefer not to echo the sales pitches of lobbyists, but that is just me.

Not all competing approaches, naturally. Only magnetic confinement concepts benefit from the HTSC improvements, e.g. The recently discovered Super H mode approach is another example of something that (AFAIK) only benefits Tokamaks and related concepts.
And it is not just "lobbyists" making these claims. Obviously Dennis Whyte is a professor for plasma physics at the MIT. My old hiking comrade Guenter Janeschitz is not exactly a lobbyist or extremely political either. He has his experiences in the field and those determine his way of thinking, just as other plasma physicists have theirs and they tailor their approaches accordingly. The recent developments solve a lot of the engineering and physics problems related to Toks and that is worth respecting and it makes them a lot more interesting again than they were only a few years ago.
I recommend, you watch this presentation by Dennis Whyte, it is really good and outlines quite well how Tokamaks can become viable fusion reactor concepts again.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXHiHMQxZ8M
Also look at the ARC design class video here, which gives a good overview of how the ARC concept has evolved since the presentation video above. The most exciting part for me was that they were able to UPRATE the fusion output to 1GW without an increase in size.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkpIVBAxBS4
Now Tokamak Energy is essentially taking the ARC concept a step further by also making it a spherical Tokamak design, which means that the reactor can be even smaller, while ARC and SPARC are more conventional less spherical Tokamak shapes.
That said, my personal favorite is actually FRCs and the various reactor concepts based on them. They have also made great strides in recent years, not just at TAE but also at PPPL and Helion (among others). I think that next to Tokamaks, they are the concept that we have the best understanding off in regards to the physics by now. Plus, they do indeed benefit from many of the lessons learned from Tokamaks.
One of the blessings (and a curse at the same time) that come with FRCs is that there are so many things you can do with them, how to stabilize them and how to compress them, etc. It is a curse because the research (and funding) is spread over a broad range of approaches and for some reason, there seems to be relatively little overlap in those approaches and the lessons learned from them (other than the basic understanding of FRCs themselves). E.g. I can't help but be extremely impressed by the 300 ms confinement time that PPPL achieved with their relatively tiny FRC, which is employing a rotating magnetic field to stabilize it. That is a lot longer than the 12 ms achieved by TAE. I am sort of wondering whether it would not be possible to combine the neutral beam injection TAE uses with the rotating magnetic field that PPPL uses. And then there is of course the completely different approach used by Helion, which may or may not benefit from any of the advances made by the other FRC teams.
Talking about Helion another team originating from the UW has a really interesting new approach to Z- Pinches. Uri Shumlak's Sheared Flow Stabilized Z- Pinch experiments at the UW have been very impressive with a tiny budget and their latest experiments (so far) seem to be confirming their scaling laws. This has sparked my interest in Z- Pinches again. Extremely small and reactors would be possible with this sort of device.
Sorry for the off topic drift...

ltgbrown
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby ltgbrown » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:35 am

SJ, thank you very much for the links. Some of the best overviews I have seen. The jump in power out from 500 MW to 1 GW is impressive and suggestive of a high probability of success. It seems like all the areas of risk are highly manageable. Pretty exciting.

I note though that it the first video and others, EMC2 and Polywell are almost never mentioned. I wonder why? It seems like such an elegant solution. ARC and most other efforts are based on trying to force the nuclei together, while Polywell uses nature's own forces to pull them together. Very "judo-like"!

I am more confident almost everyday that I will see commercial fusion permeate the world in my lifetime. Combined with what SpaceX is doing, I think we are on the verge of the next great frontier breaking timeframe.
Famous last words, "Hey, watch this!"

Maui
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby Maui » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:25 pm

Skipjack wrote: I can't help but be extremely impressed by the 300 ms confinement time that PPPL achieved with their relatively tiny FRC, which is employing a rotating magnetic field to stabilize it. That is a lot longer than the 12 ms achieved by TAE.

It was my understanding that the only thing limiting longer confinement times by TAE is the amount of energy available for each attempt. Not going back to read right now, but when they announced reaching 5ms, didn't they say they were satisfied that given the available energy they could now maintain containment at will?

Skipjack wrote:One of the blessings (and a curse at the same time) that come with FRCs is that there are so many things you can do with them, how to stabilize them and how to compress them, etc.

Precisely why the TAE + Google partnership makes so much sense. It seems almost destiny that the FRC's are coming of age at the same time machine learning is, because machine leaning is what is going to solve all those permutations.

Skipjack
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby Skipjack » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:44 pm

ltgbrown wrote:SJ, thank you very much for the links. Some of the best overviews I have seen. The jump in power out from 500 MW to 1 GW is impressive and suggestive of a high probability of success. It seems like all the areas of risk are highly manageable. Pretty exciting.

I note though that it the first video and others, EMC2 and Polywell are almost never mentioned. I wonder why? It seems like such an elegant solution. ARC and most other efforts are based on trying to force the nuclei together, while Polywell uses nature's own forces to pull them together. Very "judo-like"!

I am more confident almost everyday that I will see commercial fusion permeate the world in my lifetime. Combined with what SpaceX is doing, I think we are on the verge of the next great frontier breaking timeframe.

I was quite pleased that Whyte gave a positive nod to several other confinement methods in his first speech. But I think that mentioning every single one of them would have been inappropriate for a speech that is focused on Tokamaks. One has to understand that the MIT and especially this group has a lot of experience with Tokamaks. So it is only natural that they will go that way. With a major radius of 3.6 meters including the FLIBe tank, ARC is at a scale that is rather reasonable (only slightly bigger than JET) for a reactor that is expected to deliver 1 GW of fusion power and you have to start somewhere. In a fusion panel with several of the commercial players. Whyte again emphasized that it is important than someone needs to demonstrate a viable fusion reactor (and he is cheering on his peers there) soon, as it will have a positive effect on fusion research in general including competing confinement concepts. I think that makes a lot of sense. Right now, the public still believes fusion to be "forever 30 years away" and that hurts everyone.
Even the MIT has had problems getting funding for non Tokamak concepts in the past. Their Levitating Dipole was promising but has been without funding for years :(

ltgbrown
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Re: Small Tri Alpha news blurp

Postby ltgbrown » Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:38 pm

Well, what I was referring to was the general lack of mention of Polywell in any fusion discussion. I watched a "panel" discussion on fusion with Focus Fusion, Tri Alpha, NIF and someone representing investors, but no mention of Polywell. It just seems like almost all venues about fusion don't include Polywell. Why? Are "we" the fringe? I firmly believe in the elegance of Polywell. Somehow it just makes sense that the laws of the universe would provide us this easily accessible form of nearly boundless energy.

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