Nature News article on TAE, HE and GF: The fusion upstarts

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

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crowberry
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Nature News article on TAE, HE and GF: The fusion upstarts

Post by crowberry »

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There is a news article in Nature. "Plasma physics: The fusion upstarts" by M. Mitchell Waldrop which covers Tri Alpha Energy, Helion Energy and General Fusion. According to the article Tri Alpha Energy is seeking new funds to build the next larger machine.

There is a nice picture insert about fusion reactions and reactors, but unfortunately the tritium producing half of the D-D reaction branch has been lost, which is rather surprising.
Helion has demonstrated the concept4 in a D–D reactor with plasmoids that fire once every three minutes, and it is now seeking $15 million in private financing over the next five years to develop a full-scale machine that could use D–T fuel to reach the break-even point, when it generates as much energy as it takes to run. The company hopes that its reactor could eventually reach the hotter conditions needed to fuse deuterium with helium-3, another combination that produces only α-particles and protons, with no neutron by-products.

Kirtley is optimistic about the money. “There is a giant market need for low-cost, safe, clean power,” he says. “So we're seeing a big push in the private investment community to fund alternative ways to generate it.” And if the fund-raising is successful, says Kirtley, “our plan is to have our pilot power plant come online in six years.”
The big problem with helium-3 is that there is too little of it. If you have lots of tritium produced, then you can let that decay and collect the helium-3. Is anyone collecting tritium and helium-3 from civilian fission reactors?
If the company can win another $25 million or so, Laberge says, it will build a beefier implosion system that can compress the plasma to the levels needed for fusion — perhaps within the next two years.
The time scales and the needed amounts of money in these articles tends to very, so only time will tell when these companies will actually have their upgraded experiments running. It is nice to see that these alternative fusion concepts are getting serious attention.

Here is the link to the article http://www.nature.com/news/plasma-physi ... ts-1.15592

Skipjack
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Re: Nature News article on TAE, HE and GF: The fusion upstar

Post by Skipjack »

Cool article, great to hear some more about the progress and goals of Helion and Tri Alpha!

mvanwink5
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Re: Nature News article on TAE, HE and GF: The fusion upstar

Post by mvanwink5 »

With its current test machine, a 10-metre device called the C-2, Tri Alpha has shown that the colliding plasmoids merge as expected, and that the fireball can sustain itself for up to 4 milliseconds — impressively long by plasma- physics standards — as long as fuel beams are being injected. Last year, Tri Alpha researcher Houyang Guo announced at a plasma conference in Fort Worth, Texas, that the burn duration had increased to 5 milliseconds. The company is now looking for cash to build a larger machine.
The comment that the plasmoids merge as expected is reference to a 2010 publication. Hardly news and shows the article writer is desperate for anything to say about Tri-Alpha. The next tidbit is ++2 years old as it was also in a publication which means already old news. And, the company is looking for cash means what? Still, it is not the author's fault that that is the best he could do for status.

It looks like the only way to know anything is to follow the cash, and for private funding, even that is tough.

If I would pull anything from the article it is that fusion dark horses have put a crack in the door of perceived possibilities of fusion in the mindset of the thickheaded mainstream. Not good news for ITER which has relied on the narrative that they are the only believable horse on the track. +Hundred millions and a decade vs +100 billions and five decades (realistically), hmmm?
Near term, cheap, dark horse fusion hits the air waves, GF - TED, LM - Announcement. The race is on.

crowberry
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Re: Nature News article on TAE, HE and GF: The fusion upstar

Post by crowberry »

One should not forget that tokamak fusion has the track record for fusion power output and is very close to break even with known scaling laws. This coupled with the fact of inadequate total funding for fusion research has led to the current situation. There has always been many ideas to explore in fusion, but the high risk ideas have gotten too little resources. Now with the availability of private funding the situation is changing. But to be able to compete with tokamaks the dark horses need to show equally good or better performance. With no clear winner in the race it is still too early to bet on one horse only, so the funding should be increased so that the full potential of the different ideas could be explored.

Skipjack
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Re: Nature News article on TAE, HE and GF: The fusion upstar

Post by Skipjack »

crowberry wrote:One should not forget that tokamak fusion has the track record for fusion power output and is very close to break even with known scaling laws. This coupled with the fact of inadequate total funding for fusion research has led to the current situation. There has always been many ideas to explore in fusion, but the high risk ideas have gotten too little resources. Now with the availability of private funding the situation is changing. But to be able to compete with tokamaks the dark horses need to show equally good or better performance. With no clear winner in the race it is still too early to bet on one horse only, so the funding should be increased so that the full potential of the different ideas could be explored.
I agree that funding for all ideas should be increased, all except NIF and ITER. ITER can stay at current funding levels, NIF needs its funding cut a bit (which would probably allow funding for more of the alternative ideas). Also want to point out that tokamaks have gotten the most funding for the longest time.

Ivy Matt
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Re: Nature News article on TAE, HE and GF: The fusion upstar

Post by Ivy Matt »

NIF is not funded through the OFS program budget, so any increase or decrease in its budget would have no effect on funding for other fusion projects.

Did anyone notice the following?:
The fusion-energy advisory committee is preparing a ten-year research plan, due by the start of next year, that could conceivably lead to more backing for the upstarts.
See also the accompanying editorial:
But in the meantime, following a congressional mandate in last year’s budget resolution, the energy department has convened a panel of scientists to devise a ten-year strategic plan for fusion-energy research — something the agency has not had for many years.
Temperature, density, confinement time: pick any two.

crowberry
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Re: Nature News article on TAE, HE and GF: The fusion upstar

Post by crowberry »

Ivy Matt wrote:NIF is not funded through the OFS program budget, so any increase or decrease in its budget would have no effect on funding for other fusion projects.

Did anyone notice the following?:
The fusion-energy advisory committee is preparing a ten-year research plan, due by the start of next year, that could conceivably lead to more backing for the upstarts.
See also the accompanying editorial:
But in the meantime, following a congressional mandate in last year’s budget resolution, the energy department has convened a panel of scientists to devise a ten-year strategic plan for fusion-energy research — something the agency has not had for many years.
Progress in fusion research has not been hindered by lack of planning, but rather by the lack of political support to implement the plans made. The multitude of fusion plans and reports that have been created has been documented in Stephen O. Deans book, that was mentioned in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=4614.
The short version of the same thing has been published in Stephen O. Deans article "Fifty years of fusion research" at http://fire.pppl.gov/us_fusion50yr_dean.pdf.

Creating another plan is fine, but for it to result in concrete progress it has to be backed up by corresponding long term committed funding. The documents for creating the ten-year strategic fusion planning can be seen here https://www.burningplasma.org/activitie ... ng%20Panel.

mvanwink5
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Re: Nature News article on TAE, HE and GF: The fusion upstar

Post by mvanwink5 »

Why is it that folks don't understand that money is not money, there are always the fine print details. Money from government has finger prints of cronies, politicians, and career bureaucrat minions. VC's are treacherous, but they are not like herding cats and snails.
Near term, cheap, dark horse fusion hits the air waves, GF - TED, LM - Announcement. The race is on.

hanelyp
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Re: Nature News article on TAE, HE and GF: The fusion upstar

Post by hanelyp »

VC's are looking to make a profit, and the good ones will defer to the man who understands the venture or pull out. Government money usually have more complicated objectives and micromanagement.
The daylight is uncomfortably bright for eyes so long in the dark.

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