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June 13, 2010

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics High Yield Pulses to Megawatt Generators

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Lawrenceville Plasma Physics (LPP) has a goal of generating 30,000 joules with each nuclear fusion pulse. This would be net energy with conversion to elecricity. So if 100,000 joules was put in from the capacitors then they would need say 200,000 joules back and convert that to 130,000 joules. 100,000 joules for the next shot and 30,000 as excess energy. they are currently only around the 1 joule level. In April it was 0.1 joule, but in May the current increased to 1 megaamp which suggests about 1 joule output.

LPP plans to then increase the pulse rate to 60 pulses per seconds. It would be producing 1.8 million joules per second.

A one megawatt generator produces one million joules per second. (a watt is a joule/ second)

LPP was also trying to get up to 100,000 joules in each pulse. 60 such pulses would be 6 million joules per second, which if converted at with only about 20% loss would be equal to a 5 megawatt generator.

31.536 million seconds per year * 30,000 joules * 60 pulses per second / 3600 seconds =
8760 hours * 60 * 30,000 watt hours = 15.768 million Kilowatt hours




In the comments at Focus Fusion, the phases of the LPP effort for this and coming years is discussed.

Phase 1 is where we attempt to demonstrate at least as much fusion energy production than electrical energy input, or breakeven. We hope to reach this point by the end of the year.

Phase 2 is where we do the engineering to capture that output energy in the most efficient way possible to reach positive net energy. This is where we will work on the “onion” to capture X-rays and the ion-beam capture coil and switch. We will also work on rapid firing of the device using the captured energy from the last shot. The subsystems to remove waste heat, injecting new fuel, etc, will be attached at that point. The goal of Phase 2 is positive net energy output, which is a form of breakeven after taking into account subsystem losses.

Phase 3 then turns these laboratory-based systems into refined, customer-ready, prepackaged, deliverable, commercial fusion generators. The goal of Phase 3 is positive net cash flow, which is yet another form of breakeven

The FF-1 capacitor bank holds about 100,000 joules.

Milestone 8: Achieve positive net energy

Obviously, the goal of this work is to create more energy than we consume. Here’s how we plan to do this. The capacitor bank in FF1 holds about 100,000 Joules of energy. When we flip the switch that energy goes in to the electric currents and magnetic fields in the plasma. The energy isn’t gone, it’s just in a different form. Then fusion reactions add energy to the plasma. For this milestone we hope to create 33,000 Joules of fusion energy with each shot. Then that 133,000 Joules of energy has to be converted back to electricity. But it can’t be converted with perfect efficiency. There will be some losses. If we can get 80% of that 133,000 Joules back into electricity then we will have 106,400 Joules of electricity. That’s more than we started with. 100,000 Joules can be sent to the capacitors for the next shot, and 6,400 Joules can be siphoned off as power output. This experiment won’t actually convert the plasma energy back into electricity, but by measuring the plasma energy we can show that we could create a power producing reactor. That is what we mean by the term “demonstrate scientific feasibility” and that’s the goal of this milestone.


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