Allen and Gates as philanthropists of fusion energy

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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jlumartinez
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Allen and Gates as philanthropists of fusion energy

Postby jlumartinez » Thu Aug 02, 2007 11:41 pm

I have just read an interview to Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft). As well as being quite interested in the fusion energy he also suggests that Bill Gates maybe is also interested. (See Evan Ratliff’s excellent interview of Paul Allen in Discover Magazine, April 2007 issue.) :

http://discovermagazine.com/2007/apr/th ... :int=1&-C=

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In a weird way you and Gates still seem to follow parallel paths. Do you ever talk about entering a philanthropic collaboration?
We are always looking to find some areas of overlap in our philanthropic stuff. We’ve had so much success doing things before; it feels good. Recently we’ve been talking about doing something together on the FRONTIERS OF ENERGY.

What are the biggest questions on your mind right now?
The health of the planet, whether it’s ocean health or energy. Should nuclear energy make a comeback? We have an investment in a fusion energy company that is quite interesting.

What kind of fusion research are you investing in?
The company is called Tri Alpha Energy [which finances aneutronic fusion, a process that emits protons rather than neutrons, potentially making it much more efficient than current concepts]. Fusion has been predicted to be just over the horizon for decades now, so whenever you see an interesting alternative approach, you think about it. There has been a lot of discussion recently on fission reactors, and I have been involved in doing some survey meetings recently. I think Bill is intrigued by that too. But it’s really speculative.
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They seem to be quite concerned about the field of fusion energy.
Maybe it´s time to try to get a collaboration of Bill Gates in Polywell research. Opinions?

Zixinus
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Postby Zixinus » Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:10 am

Great idea, he can fund the next stage for EMC2 by lunch.

However it is going to be a hard time connecting him, I'm certain that he is bombarded with thousands of offers every day.

rexxam62
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Postby rexxam62 » Sat Aug 04, 2007 7:20 pm

Zixinus wrote:Great idea, he can fund the next stage for EMC2 by lunch.

However it is going to be a hard time connecting him, I'm certain that he is bombarded with thousands of offers every day.


Paul Allen IS bombarded with ideas. He has this firm called 'Vulcan' that engage in philanthropy. But most ideas he gets are probably 'shit'. My guess is that Paul Allen would put Dr Bussard under the folder of the ideas that might be up for funding. But I want Dr Bussards work to be done as a subsidiary of SpaceDev because I want this to be treated as a business where these reactors (if the concept works) can be sold around the planet in the future.

//Rexxam62

Zixinus
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Postby Zixinus » Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:19 pm

And does SpaceDev want the same thing too?

rexxam62
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Wikify Fusion

Postby rexxam62 » Sat Aug 04, 2007 8:30 pm

Zixinus wrote:And does SpaceDev want the same thing too?


SpaceDev is a public corporation owned by its shareholders. I am a big shareholder and I could easily team up with other shareholders to make this into a reality but ofcourse I would not do this if it would be impossible or a bad idea financially speaking for SpaceDev. So I would talk with the management first about their views. I think there is a interest but a lack of funds. Also they are busy with alot of other projects. But that might not be true in the future. Lets see how things evolve.

//Rexxam62

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Re: Paul Allen

Postby JoeStrout » Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:41 pm

It seems like Allen must already know about polywell fusion; he must have bumped into Jim Benson as part of the SpaceShipOne project, and Benson has known Bussard for a long time and is enthusiastic about polywell fusion. In addition, Allen is funding Tri Alpha Energy, so clearly has an interest in aneutronic fusion in general. So it's hard to see how he could not already know about Bussard's research.

That leaves open the question of why he's not funding it. Hopefully he's just moving slowly, but maybe he's already picked his fusion horse and doesn't want to spread his bets.

Incidentally, I don't think it matters much where and how the research is done. The key points of the design are patented, and that means that anyone selling polywell machines in the U.S. will be paying the patent-holders, regardless of how the final research is paid for.
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Nanos
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Postby Nanos » Tue Aug 07, 2007 6:48 am

My money is on the already picked horse, its likely that most investors will not really understand enough about the subject to know the difference between which fusion approach really is any better than any other, so the money will go to whoever has the best/slickest/most expensive PR, the cutest blonde handing them a leaflet/etc.

My impression of Bussard is that he gets on with the work and doesn't have time to waste trying to play the PR game (Though is now beginning to understand the need to.), as such we are left to the state that whoever shouts loudest gets the money, whether their approach is the best or worst technically, it makes no difference.

mmichael
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Postby mmichael » Mon Aug 13, 2007 5:10 am

As to Gates, it wouldn't surprise me if he is interested, too. In 1993, I attended one of his speeches as part of his abortive "Road Ahead" series (where he waxed enthusiastic about metropolitan area networks and never mentioned the Internet once ... :D )

My employer had arranged my attendance, and also my VIP invitation to the mixer afterwards. I debated whether to ask him if he had an interest in funding private space ventures or private fusion energy ventures.

Since this is real life instead of TV, I chose the right topic and asked him about fusion. His reply was mildly startling, and explained volumes about Paul Allen's later interest and investment in things like TriAlpha.

Gates said that he and Paul Allen (note that I did not ask him about Paul Allen in my question) had discussed funding commercial fusion development many times, and Gates concluded that "the regulatory climate was too restrictive to make the risk worthwhile", at least at that time (if I recall the quote correctly).

Fittingly ironic, given the impending antitrust action against Microsoft ...

Anyways, I was given the impression that Paul Allen was the guy really interested in taking the lead on such an enterprise, but that Gates might be talked into opening his checkbook if his friend vouched for a particular idea.

Mind you, this was 1993.

Does anyone else have a more recent first-hand experience in a discussion with Gates on this?

PS Oh, and Bill Gates is a lot shorter than you might think, given the camera angles his PR folks seem to arrange for him ...

Nanos
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Postby Nanos » Mon Aug 13, 2007 6:43 am

What do you think he meant by "the regulatory climate was too restrictive" ?

Zixinus
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Postby Zixinus » Mon Aug 13, 2007 9:02 am

What do you think he meant by "the regulatory climate was too restrictive" ?


My bet is that it may have to do something with the fabled "tokamak mafia".

pstudier
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Postby pstudier » Mon Aug 13, 2007 7:24 pm

Zixinus wrote:My bet is that it may have to do something with the fabled "tokamak mafia".


Enough with the conspiracy nonsense. It's the NRC. Today it would take about 6 years to get permission to build a reactor of pre-approved design. It takes years, and IIRC, about 100 million dollars to license a PWR or a BWR. A "novel" design like a PBMR is much more difficult. The NRC wouldn't have the slightest idea what to do with a fusion reactor.
Fusion is easy, but break even is horrendous.

Nanos
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Postby Nanos » Mon Aug 13, 2007 7:49 pm

Perhaps thats a good reason to build it someplace with less regulations.

I might suggest Sealand ;-)

pstudier
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Postby pstudier » Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:24 pm

Nanos wrote:Perhaps thats a good reason to build it someplace with less regulations.

I might suggest Sealand ;-)


Long way to string the underwater extension cord, and I hope you can cool the prototype with salt water. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principality_of_Sealand

Maybe China. When I was there a few years ago, they burned coal in Beijing for cooking. They will allow anything there. :(
Fusion is easy, but break even is horrendous.

Nanos
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Postby Nanos » Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:37 am

Diesel electric, though I did suggest they think about building a GEOHIL geothermal plant.

http://www.sealandnews.com has what appears their offical forum there.

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Postby Aeronaut » Sat Jun 06, 2009 12:23 am

Nanos wrote:What do you think he meant by "the regulatory climate was too restrictive" ?

Fusion gets averaged in with fission in most peoples' minds, so if any pB-11 design should produce a salable design, the regulatory model will almost certainly begin based on how fission sites are treated. [dark undertones intended].
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