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April 03, 2010

Dense Plasma Physics Update - A Great Month for Focus Fusion

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Lawrenceville Plasma Physics reports good progress in March, 2010.

At the beginning of March, good shots (those without pre-firing and with pinches) were a bit under 50% of the shots we fired. Since mid-month, we have increased that to 90% good shots. The two time-of-flight neutron detectors have produced more evidence that we are already duplicating the high ion energies achieved with higher currents in the Texas experiments. In our best shots, ion energies were measured in the range of 40-60 keV (the equivalent of 0.4-0.6 billion degrees K). The electron beam carried about 0.5 kJ of energy and the plasmoid held about 1 kJ of energy, nearly half that stored in the magnetic field of the device. So, this is evidence that a substantial part of the total energy available is being concentrated in the plasmoids and transferred to the beams.


We found that the control shots (with the magnetic coil turned off) were increasingly producing more neutrons (up to about 10 times) as the control shots in the beginning of our testing. It turns out the steel flanges that attach the vacuum chamber to the inner lower bus plate and the bus plate itself were both becoming permanently magnetized. This provides additional (though unintended) evidence that the predicted angular momentum effect is working. In the future, we may find it necessary to replace the flanges and bus plate with those made from non-magnetic alloys, but that will have to wait for now.

On March 18, Lerner gave an invited presentation on the DPF to an audience of physicists and engineers at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, the nation's largest fusion lab. The Princeton physicists responded with interest and some friendly questions. The atmosphere was one of collaboration, not competition.

Finally, we received enough investment money to carry us through the end of summer, with additional funding pledged. This means we are almost halfway to our goal of raising $900K in this capital drive.

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics had eight objectives for their two year research program This work seems to show good progress on four of the eight objectives.





Advancing dense plasma focus fusion to about break even energy would enable a radical advance to fusion spaceplanes and rockets

If Lawrenceville Plasma Physics (LPP) achieves the full success, then a Focus Fusion reactor would produce electricity very differently. The energy from fusion reactions is released mainly in the form of a high-energy, pulsed beam of helium nuclei. Since the nuclei are electrically charged, this beam is already an electric current. All that is needed is to capture this electric energy into an electric circuit. This can be done by allowing the pulsed beam to generate electric currents in a series of coils as it passes through them. This is much the same way that a transformer works, stepping electric power down from the high voltage of a transmission line to the low voltage used in homes and factories. It is also like a particle accelerator run in reverse. Such an electrical transformation can be highly efficient, probably around 70%. What is most important is that it is exceedingly cheap and compact. The steam turbines and electrical generators are eliminated. A 5 MW Focus Fusion reactor may cost around $300,000 and produce electricity for 1/10th of a cent per kWh. This is fifty times less than current electric costs. Fuel costs will be negligible because a 5 MW plant will require only five pounds of fuel per year. [About 40 million kWh per year from a 5 MWe plant and 5 MWe is equal to 6705 horsepower]



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