Can we tie environmental concerns to polywell funding?

Discuss funding sources for polywell research, including the non-profit EMC2 Fusion Development Corporation, as well as any other relevant research efforts.

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JoeStrout
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Can we tie environmental concerns to polywell funding?

Post by JoeStrout »

A recent global opinion poll shows that, world-wide, pollution and other environmental problems are seen as the leading threat the world faces.

This suggests (and I'm sure others can confirm) that there should be a fair amount of funding available to tackle these issues. And it seems pretty clear that if successful, polywell fusion should go a long way in addressing these concerns (discuss exactly how in the Implications forum).

So: what funds are available for environment/clean-energy research, and how can we direct some of these into polywell fusion?
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Zixinus
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Post by Zixinus »

Short version: Not likely, consider that environmentalist are protesting againts ITER. Getting funding for something that is a bit out of the blue, like Polywell is not going to be easy.

Long version + some ranting:
Officially, the best funding for fusion one can get is for ITER, an international Tokamak machine. It is gigantic, it makes jobs for hundreds if not thousands and in the end, most likely doomed to fail. It can do ONLY D-T fusion, which is highly radioactive, it has engineering problems that make rockets and spaceplanes (ie, Space Shuttle, Buran, SpaceShip One, etc) simple in comparison and we *might* see something after half a century, during which the original researchers would comfortably retire.

The problems on the physics side, as far as I understand, is trying to contain the plasma long enough for collisions to fuse. This is done by superconductors that need to be cyrogenically (spelling?) cooled to about 100-150 Kelvin, which is next to 500 Kelvin molten lithium that is placed there so to protect the superconductors. First power plants cannot possibly hope to be competitive to 4th generation fission reactors. A mayor goal is to induce "ignition" where there is enough fusion to go around that the plasma no longer needs to be heated externally. No such thing has ever been observed or produced in laboratory environment. It only exists on paper.

Any competitor to tokamaks are chased down and discredited without mercy (although, this may be exaggerated a bit, they call this the "tokamak Mafia"), leaving very few options open, most of which do not necessarily aim for power production. For Department of Energy, it is official policy (I kid you not) that only tokamaks and laser-induced fusion are worthy. There ARE some scams done with fusion (ie, cold fusion) but the DoE views pretty much any other concept as such, regardless how well-based it is.

As for IEC fusion, until their superiority or even equality is proven hard and solid by internationally standards, most researchers in the field can spend a lifetime looking for funding.
A man that archived great breakthroughs in the field called Farnsworth, the inventor of television, had done research on private funding. He, and several other researchers, made a fusion machine that fit on a burrowed meal cart and done higher fusion then any other machine to that date, but the audience of Atomic Energy Commission didn't care (or atleast didn't fund the thing).

As for environmentalists, they don't care either. In fact, they are paranoid and superstitious of anything nuclear.
Consider that Cassini-Huygens was protested againts, as it ran on RTGs, not solar panels that are useless where the probe was going (sunlight is subject to inverse-square law).

Most research money for alternative energy sources is spent on solar panels, wind farms and the like. Don't get me wrong, these do produce energy and make perfect sense in some places, but even their advocates admit that it won't supply enough electricity for the world.

Nuclear, something that CAN supply the world, is mostly a footnote or ignored on basis fictional danger or base assumption on 40-50 year old technology. Beyond that, it is over-regulated to a fault, making sure that any plant is uneconomical. Waste that could be recycled into useful fuel, is instead sent to several billion dollar nuclear-cemeteries. Anything nuclear is opposed by gut in politics.

To get the idea how bad the situation is, know that there has been no power plant built in the last 40 years.

Finally, even if you ignore the political blockade, there are not enough nuclear engineers that could possibly cover the amount of power plants needed to be built, even if you use renewable plants where they make sense.

All in all, the environmentalists movement is not the ideal place to get support. Sure, Polywell could do p+b11 and thus no nuclear waste and all the other things, but from what I see, environmentalists don't let things like facts get into the way.

Not all environmentalists are bad, mind you. We could find support there, among the more open-minded crew. It's just not where I think we could find largest and best support.

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Post by JoeStrout »

Zixinus wrote:Short version: Not likely, consider that environmentalist are protesting againts ITER.
They have reason to. ITER, whether it's successful or not, is going to generate prodigious amounts of radioactive waste. It's not a clean technology, and almost certainly never will be, because p-B11 fusion is too hard with the tokamak approach.

Polywell fusion is of course completely different, and should be able to burn p-B11, which has no radioactive byproducts at all. It could even transmute existing nuclear waste into more benign forms. (I suppose we should discuss this in the Implications forum if anyone wants to delve into the details.) So, as an environmentalist myself, I don't see what's to not like about it.
Zixinus wrote:For Department of Energy, it is official policy (I kid you not) that only tokamaks and laser-induced fusion are worthy.
Official policy? That's intriguing — do you have a reference for it?
Zixinus wrote:Short version: Not likely, consider that environmentalist are protesting againts ITER.
They have reason to. ITER, whether it's successful or not, is going to generate prodigious amounts of radioactive waste. It's not a clean technology, and almost certainly never will be, because p-B11 fusion is too hard with the tokamak approach.

Polywell fusion is of course completely different, and should be able to burn p-B11, which has no radioactive byproducts at all. It could even transmute existing nuclear waste into more benign forms. (I suppose we should discuss this in the Implications forum if anyone wants to delve into the details.) So, as an environmentalist myself, I don't see what's to not like about it.
Zixinus wrote:As for environmentalists, they don't care either. In fact, they are paranoid and superstitious of anything nuclear.
Consider that Cassini-Huygens was protested againts, as it ran on RTGs, not solar panels that are useless where the probe was going (sunlight is subject to inverse-square law).
Please don't stereotype; there are extremists in any direction, but there are a great number of sensible, rational environmentalists as well.

You do raise a valid point about the reaction to "nuclear" technology though. The medical technology MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) was originally called NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance), but they changed it because people didn't react well to the "nuclear" scanner. Similarly, we might do better to refer to this as just "fusion energy" rather than "nuclear fusion" to make it slightly more palatable to those with an aversion to anything nuclear.
Zixinus wrote:Most research money for alternative energy sources is spent on solar panels, wind farms and the like. Don't get me wrong, these do produce energy and make perfect sense in some places, but even their advocates admit that it won't supply enough electricity for the world.
Right. The people holding those purse-strings probably just don't see any better alternatives. How can we reach them, and show them that there is something that, even if it's a long shot, will do far more good for the world than all those other things combined?
Zixinus wrote:All in all, the environmentalists movement is not the ideal place to get support. Sure, Polywell could do p+b11 and thus no nuclear waste and all the other things, but from what I see, environmentalists don't let things like facts get into the way.
It appears to me, if you'll excuse me for saying so, that you're blinded by your own prejudice. I've been a Sierra Club member for years, and I see a lot of potential there. More over, climate change and environmental awareness is no longer confined to "tree-huggers" — it's very much a mainstream concern these days, as the poll cited at the start of this thread supports.
Zixinus wrote:Not all environmentalists are bad, mind you. We could find support there, among the more open-minded crew. It's just not where I think we could find largest and best support.
Fair enough. Where then?

Best,
Joe Strout
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Post by Zixinus »

They have reason to. ITER, whether it's successful or not, is going to generate prodigious amounts of radioactive waste. It's not a clean technology, and almost certainly never will be, because p-B11 fusion is too hard with the tokamak approach.
True, but waste was never a true problem, and the waste produced would last a century at best, not millions of years like fission produces, as there are no heavy elements involved.
Official policy? That's intriguing — do you have a reference for it?
Dr.Bussard did talk about this in his video, beyond that I seen some project outlines regarding DoE. Currently, I can't access DoE's website right now, but from what I read about it, they are totally behind the tokamaks.
Please don't stereotype; there are extremists in any direction, but there are a great number of sensible, rational environmentalists as well.
Even if they are, then they are not the one leading the movement or have a mayor influence.
As for the ignoring of facts, I have seen many shameful acts done in my country alone (they protested againts windmills, I shit you not), and have hampered economic growth significantly, while giving money to the environmentalists in question. I have heard even worse things regarding activities in other countries, and don't forget the "Earth Liberation Front".

I do believe that concern for the environment is important, but I rarely seen it properly done. What I've seen is political ideology under "green language". I do know that not all environmentalists are that bad as I make it, but they are often ignored.
Similarly, we might do better to refer to this as just "fusion energy" rather than "nuclear fusion" to make it slightly more palatable to those with an aversion to anything nuclear.
I prefer the poetic name "sunfire". I think it has a right ring to it.
It appears to me, if you'll excuse me for saying so, that you're blinded by your own prejudice.
My country has been suffering because of corrupted environmentalists that don't give a shit about the environment, only about milking my government that already has financial problems. Perhaps I'm biased, I'll admit, but I don't see other groups that much better.
Right. The people holding those purse-strings probably just don't see any better alternatives. How can we reach them, and show them that there is something that, even if it's a long shot, will do far more good for the world than all those other things combined?
Demonstrate it and show it on the news. Heck, if we could do a talk on TED and make it on-line, that would make the investors pour like a waterfall.
Fair enough. Where then?
Anywhere, pretty much. Techies and those interested may be a good start, along with space flight advocates. An article on Wired may be a great leaping point.
But I'd expect Greenpeace to start screaming like a banshee and be ready for it.

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Post by MSimon »

JoeStrout wrote:
Zixinus wrote:Short version: Not likely, consider that environmentalist are protesting againts ITER.
They have reason to. ITER, whether it's successful or not, is going to generate prodigious amounts of radioactive waste. It's not a clean technology, and almost certainly never will be, because p-B11 fusion is too hard with the tokamak approach.

Polywell fusion is of course completely different, and should be able to burn p-B11, which has no radioactive byproducts at all.
Actually a running pB11 reactor of 100 MWth is going to produce 1KW of neutrons. Very low. Not zero.

It may be possible through tuning the reaction to reduce that. It is not going to zero.

BTW since the neutrons are very high energy it will require as much shielding as a regular nuke.

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Post by MSimon »

Zixinus wrote:
Official policy? That's intriguing — do you have a reference for it?
Dr.Bussard did talk about this in his video, beyond that I seen some project outlines regarding DoE. Currently, I can't access DoE's website right now, but from what I read about it, they are totally behind the tokamaks.
Actually not totally true. There is a lot of money going into IEC:

http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/200 ... -good.html

All that has happened is that Polywell is not getting the attention I think it deserves. There is a lot going on in IEC.

Look at this Los Alamos report for instance:

http://www.lanl.gov/p/rh_pp_park.shtml

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What is TED?

Post by MSimon »

What is TED?

Zixinus
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Post by Zixinus »

What is TED?
TED stand for Technology Education and Design. It's like a con for engineers. A multi-touch technology demonstration there gained enormous publicity there, more then enough to jump-start his company "Perceptive Pixel" (http://www.perceptivepixel.com/ ).

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