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May 30, 2008

Focus Fusion Follow Up

[From a reader who is a close follower of Focus Fusion]
Re: CMEF [Just reported funding of $600,000 part of $10 million], Eric [Founder and CEO of LPP] responded, "This is based on years-out-of-date info. The $600,000 never actually materialized, but LPP is again at the point where we think we will have money in hand very soon. But this time we will not say we have it until the bank tells us we do."

Correction: That funding situation did not happen and this is a link to the current funding situation

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc. is raising capital from accredited investors (those with more than $200,000 in income or $1,000,000 in assets) to finance a two-year experimental effort in New Jersey to demonstrate the scientific feasibility of focus fusion. The total cost of the experiment is $750,000, of which $200,000 has already been raised and an additional $100,000 has been pledged.


The most recent LPP news postings are:
LPP has performed some computer simulations of their process.

Highly repeatable experiments have been performed

In a presentation to the Seventh Symposium on Current Trends in International Fusion research, held a year ago, but recently released on the Web, Dr. Jan Brzosko reported that in 500 shots a DPF functioning at a peak current of 0.95 MA had neutron yields that had a standard deviation of only about 15%.


Focus fusion in Discover Magazine June 2008 (item #2).

It may sound too good to be true, but the technology, called focus fusion, is based on real physics experiments. Focus fusion is initiated when a pulse of electricity is discharged through a hydrogen-boron gas across two nesting cylindrical electrodes, transforming the gas into a thin sheath of hot, electrically conducting plasma. This sheath travels to the end of the inner electrode, where the magnetic fields produced by the currents pinch and twist the plasma into a tiny, dense ball. As the magnetic fields start to decay, they cause a beam of electrons to flow in one direction and a beam of positive ions (atoms that have lost electrons) to flow in the opposite direction. The electron beam heats the plasma ball, igniting fusion reactions between the hydrogen and boron; these reactions pump more heat and charged particles into the plasma. The energy in the ion beam can be directly converted to electricity—no need for conventional turbines and generators. Part of this electricity powers the next pulse, and the rest is net output.

A focus fusion reactor could be built for just $300,000, says Lerner, president of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics in New Jersey. But huge technical hurdles remain. These include increasing the density of the plasma so the fusion reaction will be more intense. (Conventional fusion experiments do not come close to the temperatures and densities needed for efficient hydrogen-boron fusion.) Still, the payoff could be huge: While mainstream fusion research programs are still decades from fruition, Lerner claims he requires just $750,000 in funding and two years of work to prove his process generates more energy than it consumes. “The next experiment is aimed at achieving higher density, higher magnetic field, and higher efficiency,” he says. “We believe it will succeed.”


[emails from a reader who has been following Focus fusion closely]
the power would be at about 0.2¢/kwh, not 1/20¢ (0.05¢). The generators would be from 5-20MW, depending on pulse rate (330 - 1320/sec.) The energy "profit" is actually from harvesting as current (via thousands of foil layers in the containment shell) the ~40% of output which occurs as X-rays. The alpha-beam pulse goes back into the capacitor bank to fire the next "shot", and the electron beam reheats the plasma.



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