Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

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ohiovr
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Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

Post by ohiovr »

A tokamak reactor can only constrain plasma in 2 dimensions. Round and round the plasma goes. Every time a particle smashes into another the plasma expands. Keeping the over all magnetic fields around the plasma at a superlative strength allows for the plasma to move slowly toward the edges. But sooner or later that plasma impacts on the reactor walls causing it to cool down and halt. If only there were some way to introduce a third dimension to the confinement. Then the plasma could be confined indefinitely. We have the electrostatic force to consider. What if we introduced a probe to the system that had a high positive electric field. the ions would be repelled by it. Round and round the plasma goes and when it encounters the probe ions are repelled by it shoving it into the center. The only bad side is that it greatly attracts electrons which for all we care are a waste of the system. But there is no reason we can't harness these wayward electrons in decelerators or semiconductor strikes that shower electrons generating high electric currents. We can absorb these attracted electrons and recycle their charges. We need electrons in a fusion plasma. No plasma is ever going to have a practical density unless we consider this necessary evil of the negative charge. Even a small and thin plasma exerts a tremendous force should it be be only of one electrically charged species.

The polywell's hope is non thermalized plasma. But the supports, cusps, whatever you want to call it is the death nell for it now matter how clever it's arrangement can be. This is the fate of all such similar designs. There were people here, my self included that judged within seconds of reading about Lockheed's plans for their reactor, knew for sure it would never work. And it never did! Never underestimate the power of informed thinking.

We could take what works, the tokamak 2d confiner and add a third dimension of confinement to it. Accept the inefficiencies of recycling electrons. You could take those plate attracted electrons and feed them back to the machine using an electron gun. That injected stream of electrons can be injected at the very center of the tokamak plasma where it causes fewer problems than if the whole plasma were mixed with equal species of charges. You end up with a stratified electronic plasma with positive power producing ions separate from the negative obstacles. The negative beam at the very center of the hybrid tokamak keeps the plasma stable. Without it, you are dealing with forces that are scarcely comprehensible.

The goal of the hybrid electrostatic / magnetic tokamak is to recycle the useless energy losses of the negative component of the bulk neutral plasma. The charges are physically separated. The electrons eventually leak their way to collectors which are shot back into the machine with findingly acceptable losses. The result is a positive plasma attracted to the center, and repelled by the edges. This is the only way a fusion reactor can ever be safe and practical. The required magnetic field strength will always be high but with the recirculator in action these fields do not need to be anything like that which is currently in proposal for fusion power applications. Push those ions in, suck those electrons out and shove them back in. Get me a 98% efficient way of doing this and I will make you a fusion reactor that is practical.

Giorgio
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Re: Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

Post by Giorgio »

I remember that I read before about such an idea in a design proposal of the 70's.
They actually tried some experimental tests later on but the results was not convincing and the idea was dropped. I don't remember if the issues was due to the theory not matching the experimental results or if the technology was simply not enough mature at the time.

I will search for it and see if I can find it back.
A society of dogmas is a dead society.

Giorgio
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Re: Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

Post by Giorgio »

Here it is:

Design study of electrostatically plugged cusp fusion reactor.
https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/7132575

Pages from 52 to 56 gives a clear idea about the concept.
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A society of dogmas is a dead society.

ohiovr
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Re: Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

Post by ohiovr »

This is great. Thank you for finding this!

Giorgio
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Re: Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

Post by Giorgio »

You welcome.
A society of dogmas is a dead society.

Ivy Matt
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Re: Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

Post by Ivy Matt »

I think the fact that some other fusion researcher thought of it first shows it's an idea that is (or was) worth trying out. I'd be interested in seeing what the actual experimental results were, and what the rationale was for not pursuing it further. There's a difference between "We already tried that and we found that it wouldn't work" and "We already tried that, but the technology just wasn't there yet", but one that's not always easy to determine. My largely uninformed opinion is that the history of scientific research contains numerous efforts that have failed due to factors other than the unsoundness of the scientific theory, and might be worth taking a second look at.
Temperature, density, confinement time: pick any two.

Giorgio
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Re: Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

Post by Giorgio »

Ivy Matt wrote:
Wed Mar 17, 2021 8:01 am
I think the fact that some other fusion researcher thought of it first shows it's an idea that is (or was) worth trying out. I'd be interested in seeing what the actual experimental results were, and what the rationale was for not pursuing it further. There's a difference between "We already tried that and we found that it wouldn't work" and "We already tried that, but the technology just wasn't there yet", but one that's not always easy to determine. My largely uninformed opinion is that the history of scientific research contains numerous efforts that have failed due to factors other than the unsoundness of the scientific theory, and might be worth taking a second look at.
I used to have full documentations about the results and reports about the "semi-experimental" run, but I do not have physical access to my back up files right now and i will not probably have access to them again until late August.
If memory serves me right there was several issues at the electrodes not being able to hold the voltage into working conditions and having severe heat removal limitations.
I will try to see if I can find them somewhere online later this weekend if I am free.

There has been also other labs researching this idea, I remember at least a couple of recent papers from Chinese labs that was looking into it.
I will give a look also for those.
A society of dogmas is a dead society.

ohiovr
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Re: Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

Post by ohiovr »

Ivy Matt wrote:
Wed Mar 17, 2021 8:01 am
I think the fact that some other fusion researcher thought of it first shows it's an idea that is (or was) worth trying out. I'd be interested in seeing what the actual experimental results were, and what the rationale was for not pursuing it further. There's a difference between "We already tried that and we found that it wouldn't work" and "We already tried that, but the technology just wasn't there yet", but one that's not always easy to determine. My largely uninformed opinion is that the history of scientific research contains numerous efforts that have failed due to factors other than the unsoundness of the scientific theory, and might be worth taking a second look at.
The experimental apparatuses are so expensive and so difficult to design it's really hard to invest in any far off ideas no matter how good they might sound in story form like in the case of my OP. So money always seem to flow into the typical approaches which by now I think most outsiders see as simply sunk cost fallacies with mega funding. Who ever nails this will come far out of left field. Hopefully the mind who makes it up is respectable enough to follow to the successful end of it. I have to admire people like Farnsworth because his apparatus is so cheap..

ohiovr
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Re: Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

Post by ohiovr »

That and he hated his most successful invention.. The Television :mrgreen:

ohiovr
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Re: Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

Post by ohiovr »

I think the story of fusion is exactly that, a story. Cheap, unlimited power. But when you do a simple look around at all the by products it is anything but cheap. It isn't safe. It isn't unlimited. It is nearly always a giant boondoggle. People who offer a tiny spark of hope get shunned.

There is nothing quite like Otto blowing up a cylinder of volatile gasses and starting a revolution.

ohiovr
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Re: Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

Post by ohiovr »

Keep thinking y'all :mrgreen:

ohiovr
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Re: Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

Post by ohiovr »

I believe the solution is not going to come from our minds but from our eyes. Observation will lead us to the promise of fusion power. Mold grows and dies all the time. Someone was growing bacteria once in petri dishes while he was growing mold. Some fellow found bacteria being destroyed in a mold growing petri dish. Anyone could have seen this. But the right mind behind a pair of eyes learned how to save hundreds of millions of lives because of this simple observation.

Maybe some 7th grade kid playing with God knows what, will unlock a secret of the universe that will change everything.

ohiovr
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Re: Tokamak reactors could be practical with this one weird trick

Post by ohiovr »

There is this company called lightmatter who is working on photonic quantum computing that is 7 times more efficient than the most powerful GPU processors on earth. The proliferation of these and proper simulation software may allow for vastly cheaper experimental apparatuses. Supercomputers that fit as simple daughter cards might be the thing to open the 7th graders' eyes.

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