Fusioneer claims Q of 1.084

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Ivy Matt
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Fusioneer claims Q of 1.084

Post by Ivy Matt »

Doug Coulter claims to have achieved scientific breakeven with his cylindrical Farnsworth fusor, but in this comment he explains why he isn't ready to publish his results in a scientific journal.
Most good papers meant for publication are all about quantification of things, measurements and math (should be new math, but often isn't). I don't have tons of that, though we've gone from almost immeasurable nano-watts of fusion to 30uW (replicable, and easy) and 84 milliwatts (replicated here but only once as I needed and still need more shielding before I try that again - that was near-lethal in a 20 second exposure and I actually got really sick from it). Since we get all the energy we put in back out as heat. that's a "Q" of 1.084, a bit shy of practical breakeven but well over scientific as defined currently. This tech has that property "for free" - anything extra you get is gain assuming you have a 100% efficient heat engine - but we don't.

As far as a "how to" for replication of where we provably are at right now, this board (though some parts are kind of off the beaten path) kind of has that, just not as a single narrative, which could be done quite easily. This is just not that hard to do, as it turns out - the real adventure was finding out how others' assumptions were wrong, doing something about that, and learning how to have those "Fleming moments" on purpose - and reacting appropriately when we saw something we "shouldn't have seen", but did. That would be tons more fun to write up and a good example for others to follow, seeing how many orders of magnitude we've improved this field in such a short time. The idea being to set a good example and help correct the crystallization (stagnation) of science.

For example, we haven't measured quantitatively quite a few things, though we HAVE measured some things others have not, and that's good stuff. I'm judging focus quality by eye, not by accurate measurement, as for now, it's obviously the thing worth improving, and qualitatively, it has an exponential effect when you do. (as usual, the SM says what we think we see - we agree again on the effects of luminosity; SM hindsight is 20-20.) Most of our measurements about the things that matter (eg what's going on in there, not what we put in or get out, which are easy and are logged as we run) are mainly qualitative. For me, that doesn't make the cut for a journal.
Of course, this isn't the first time someone has claimed success in nuclear fusion. There have been Ronald Richter, John Cockcroft (with ZETA), Martin Fleischmann & Stanley Pons, and North Korea, among others, whose claims haven't panned out. On the other hand, I believe (and I suppose most of us who post here do as well) that net gain from nuclear fusion is close at hand, mostly a matter of continued research, and the time and funding necessary for that. I'm not going to change my current signature just yet, but I do like Coulter's attitude about openness and replication. If he has what he says he has, it shouldn't be difficult to replicate. He says he's spent about $500,000 overall.

Also, he's in need of a lab assistant, or was a few days ago:
At the moment, the main help I could use is a lab assistant. I'm 100% hours-in-the-day-limited at the moment - we have everything we could want as far as gear goes. (remember, I live alone in the middle of nowhere off the grid in buildings I built and maintain 40+ acres, which also takes some time) There have been offers from various people (that movie fame stuff) but though I've accepted - no one has shown up yet. Darn! I guess people just got excited at first, then reality steps in about some kind of major lifestyle change working here would necessitate, for most. My moral quandary is that I have essentially no income at the moment to pay a real lab guy. Sure, various tricks could raise some "amount". But lab guys, and lets face it - I don't need a schlub here - are expensive at a rate, not an amount. Asking someone to relocate to work here for a short period till the money likely runs out is counter to my moral universe, so I've not taken that path at this point. You never know. I have had a couple calls from major energy outfits that want to buy in - for a piece. The thing is, an exclusive is not for sale here. Maybe I can get them to form a consortium or something, which would then be OK, as they'd all have equal access to the results. Stellar as their records are, I don't think I just want to give this to T. Boone Pickens or even Elon Musk exclusively, even though I kinda like them (for different reasons).
If I wasn't halfway around the world (and probably not very qualified, and needing to feed several mouths) I'd seriously consider it.
Temperature, density, confinement time: pick any two.

D Tibbets
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Re: Fusioneer claims Q of 1.084

Post by D Tibbets »

This is extremely misleading. While 84 milliWatts of D-D fusion is impressive if it is real- not noise from multiple culprits, it is still extreamly short of breakeven or Q=1. Q=1 implies as much fusion power out as total input energy. Amatuer fusors that have demonstrated some fusion by neutron counts generally consume several hundred to several thousands of Watts of electrical power delivered to the grids. This ignores vacuum pump power and other considerations.

"Since we get all the energy we put in back out as heat. that's a "Q" of 1.084, a bit shy of practical breakeven but well over scientific as defined currently. This tech has that property "for free" - anything extra you get is gain assuming you have a 100% efficient heat engine - but we don't."

This is an obvious statement. Energy isn't created or lost, it is merely converted. The potential energy of the reactants are converted to kinetic energy, which will eventually end up as heat. Even if you have demonstrated one neutron from fusion you have exceeded a Q of one using this argument. It is meaningless. You can argue about conversion of heat energy to electrical power and efficiencies of ~ 25 to 45% applies depending on various considerations. If you directly convert the KE of fast fusion products to electricity this efficiency may exceed 80%. This is all irrelevant to the Q question though, except for the caveat that if your Q is low, say 2-3, then anything that can boost the conversion to useful electrical power is proportionately more significant.

An example of the fallacy of using this perspective is provided by this made up but not unreasonable story:
Last week a Muon entered my body and happened to catalyze a single D-D fusion reaction. I am therefor a nuclear reactor that has exceeded a Q of one. All I need is a conversion to electricity or some other useful energy intermediate is as conversion efficiency of ~99.999999999999999999999999999999% . Of course I could then only power my electric motor with this excess energy for perhaps 0.000000000000000000001 seconds. A more reasonable and useful comparison is that by generating this single fusion reaction per week (assumed) I generated ~ 1 unit of energy equivalent to perhaps 0.00000000000000001 Watts (should be using Coulombs) of power for one second. But I consumed about 200 Watts of power continuously for that period, ~ 35,000 Watt Hours over a week. I don't think my fusion generated energy has any significance what so ever. If my waste heat is instead used to power a thermocouple, I might generate a few hundred Watt Hours of useful power. But that has nothing to do with fusion. It does have significance in certain situations though- such as in a well insulated space craft, how much air conditioning and space radiator surface area is needed to control the temperature...

My ~200 Watts of power consumption is not a complete waste though, otherwise I couldn't expound on this site. This introduces another consideration about the energy balance. Electricity need not be the only useful product. The heat itself may be used to heat streets in Denmark, or promote chemical reactions, etc.

Dan Tibbets
To error is human... and I'm very human.

D Tibbets
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Re: Fusioneer claims Q of 1.084

Post by D Tibbets »

I should point out that Doug Coulter has done a lot of Fusor work and communicates his efforts on Fusor.net. If he has achieved the astounding production of ~ 84 milliWatts of fusion power for a few seconds he has achieved remarkable results as this is ~ 1000 to 10,000 times better than his contemperies have achieved. It would represent a Q of perhaps 1/1 million instead ~1/1 billion.

Dan Tibbets
To error is human... and I'm very human.

kunkmiester
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Re: Fusioneer claims Q of 1.084

Post by kunkmiester »

Isn't Q only one problem for fusors? Even if you had a machine break even, you'd still have to deal with the magrid, and I'd imagine at power levels producing useful power, magrid life would be measured in seconds. Unless you fix that, no yield over break even will be useful.
Evil is evil, no matter how small

KitemanSA
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Re: Fusioneer claims Q of 1.084

Post by KitemanSA »

kunkmiester wrote:Isn't Q only one problem for fusors? Even if you had a machine break even, you'd still have to deal with the magrid, and I'd imagine at power levels producing useful power, magrid life would be measured in seconds. Unless you fix that, no yield over break even will be useful.
With pB&J, the neutron flux is reasonably low. And to get the B11, you need to extract the B10 which is a great neutron getter. And it makes more fuel!

swamijake
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Re: Fusioneer claims Q of 1.084

Post by swamijake »

Couple issues with this post.

As for claims, Doug did one run where he had really high neutron production, got a big dose and got sick, and for several months has been building shielding before he tries it again. He knows he has something, but isn't running around saying this is the answer to all our power problems. He knows he needs more data, and is carefully rebuilding his data collection system.

Second, his device is quite different than most fusors. His grid is more an electrostatic lens, and he runs a secondary grid which kind of turns it into a big oscillator. Very different beast to a Polywell, ETW or Hirsch machine.

He does need a lab assistant, has had several offers of funding that he has turned down for good reasons, and is chugging along building shielding, improving data collection and getting ready to run the machine at full snot without killing himself.

PB&J is not being looked at, and how it would perform in this system would be complete speculation.

If you are interested Doug periodically allows new members on his Forum, but it has some pretty strong rules and he isn't afraid of swinging the ban hammer.

kunkmiester
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Re: Fusioneer claims Q of 1.084

Post by kunkmiester »

KitemanSA wrote:
kunkmiester wrote:Isn't Q only one problem for fusors? Even if you had a machine break even, you'd still have to deal with the magrid, and I'd imagine at power levels producing useful power, magrid life would be measured in seconds. Unless you fix that, no yield over break even will be useful.
With pB&J, the neutron flux is reasonably low. And to get the B11, you need to extract the B10 which is a great neutron getter. And it makes more fuel!
The problem in a typical Farnsworth machine is the hydrogen ions also hit and erode the grid.
Evil is evil, no matter how small

mattman
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Re: Fusioneer claims Q of 1.084

Post by mattman »

Hello,

1. When I spoke to Doug - he categorically thought the polywell would never work.


2. These 3 guys have done a lot of fusor work. I have been reading about them for awhile. Their design - of a long thin tube - is very innovative.


3. According to Carl Greninger and his students, most of the fusion in fusors IS when fusion hits the wall. Based on their observations - they model most fusor fusion as the D2 piling up on/in the metal surface... and then ions slamming in and fusing.

4. Carl is seeing Fusion in a Beam. Alex Klein wanted to focus the ions along a beam. He had a startup in Boston from 2009 to 2011 to do this. I wonder if Dougs' Design follows this...

Tom Ligon
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Re: Fusioneer claims Q of 1.084

Post by Tom Ligon »

The name Alex Klein caught my attention. If this is the fellow who used to work for EMC2, he corresponded with Dr. Bussard. Alex's thinking on electrodynamic fusion was very close to Dr. Bussard's, and Doc told me. "I think we either need to hire him or kill him." He was smiling at the time, and the result was that we hired him.

Clever fellow, although headstrong at times (a good trait if you know what you are doing). Like others associated with the project, he has had periods of doubt in which he thought it wouldn't work, so he's capable of a scientifically skeptical view even though he understands the merits of the approach.

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