Next Big Future Feb. 26, 2016
First a few slides describing electrostatic fusion and polywell fusion
Q1: With the scaling from WF–6 → WF–7 → WF–8 (expected), at what point will the WF series become large and powerful enough to confine deuterium-deuterium at high enough energy and time so as to demonstrate above-break-even energy production?
If you see my answers #9 & #10 in the Talk-Polywell site, it should provide good background information about this question. We plan to build a break-even machine after the next phase R&D campaign, assuming that we get the results we are hoping for in 3 years and does not run into unexpected showstoppers.
Q2: With the same WF 6 → 7 → 8 → N sequence, what have been the scaling factors thathaven’t scaled to expectation (either above, or below)?
We are still evaluating the WB scaling. Now that we finally succeed in making the WB, it is now time to start testing its scaling over a wide range of parameters. Note that one of the previously discussed scaling, “Magrird or magnetic grid” scaling is found to be irreverent since we weren’t able to achieve potential well formation using magnetically insulated grids. The readers are encouraged to read my answers #3 & #7 in the Talk-Polywell site.
Q3: if the Department of Navy doesn’t provide funding for WF–8 and successors, where might funding come from?
Q3B: To what level of funding does WF–8 require?
Q3C: To what level of funding does the answer to Q1 require?
I don’t’ have a crystal ball. The fact that we are looking for $30M in funding for the next phase makes potential investor pools narrower, but we are cautiously optimistic. Q1 machine may be built in 4 years or so with ~ $300M if we are to meet the performance target for the next phase machine (see my answer #9).
Q4: though the use of tritium would hopelessly cause the WF experiment(s) to become permanently radioactive, might this be a reasonable trade-off in order to secure a faster and smaller answer to Q1?
In my Microsoft presentation, I showed a slide that it is relatively simple for the Polywell coil system to be replaced in a short downtime (~ 1day) at a reasonable replacement cost. If we can make D-T fusion working in a Polywell device, there is no reason not to proceed with commercial D-T fusion reactors. If we can get very promising results from the next phase R and D (see my answer #3), we may seriously entertain an aneutronic p-11B possibility. But it will be done so only after we have a concrete set of experimental results to support our theoretical understanding.
Q: I’d be interested to know how much better a dodecahedron would be than a cube for limiting ion losses. Dodecahedrons would seem to have “cleaner” cusps because only three magnets have interaction. Is this intuitive guess correct? Are your PIC simulations capable of determining an answer to this question?
We plan to build and test dodecahedron device in our next phase and answer this question. Our PIC simulation is not good enough to answer this question.
Q: What are the rough expected dimensions of a polywell system intended for 1-(break even), 2-(100MWe net positive power production), for the core fusor complex, and the associated balance of plant (and what systems are preferred in the balance of plant for final electrical production)? Can the core fusor for a useful net positive plant be contained within an ISO cargo container?
As a part of commercial business plan development, we have done extensive analysis regarding various Polywell devices for different markets. At this point, we would like to keep that part confidential. It is, however, noted that we really need to validate the scaling laws during the next phase R&D program before we finalize the engineering design of any power producing Polywell reactor.
Q: Wonder if they could plug the cusps with strategically located charged plates.
Far enough from the central potential well that they won’t much affect the ions, but able to slow down and deflect the electrons out of the magnetic field cusps so they get captured and bent back to the well.
We tried this and did not work. We have no further plan to pursue this idea. Separately, in the current design of Polywell device, the expected high energy electron confinement is good enough so that, if validated, it is possible to build a fusion reactor without the use of charged plates.