Saturday, May 12, 2007

IEC Fusion, simple & elegant

Fusion is a simple and elegant idea. You smash 2 atoms together, they fuse into a smaller atom releasing energy. The difference in mass is released as energy according to Einstein's mass-energy equivalence formula E = mc². In simple terms the "fuel" needs to heated, put under great pressure and our 2 atoms need sufficient speed to fuse upon collision. For nearly 30 years the leading field of fusion research has been in Tokamak style devices. Tokamaks' provide pressure, heat and swirl the fuel in a donut shape.

One alternative to the Tokamak design that has gained attention during the last year, is Inertial Electrostatic Confinement or IEC Fusion. Recent research in IEC Fusion by Dr. Robert Bussard was described in the now famous google tech talk. IEC Fusion relies on speeding the fuel ions to collision, causing fusion. Test results in late 2005 with the WB6 device showed a very high output in relation to input, though a few magnitudes from break even.

Dr Bussard believes that if he scales up his one foot scale model to 9 foot that it will achieve net power, and be able to generate 100 mega watts of electricity. There are 2 scaling factors involved in this type of device: the power output scales as the 7th power of the size, and the power gain as the 5th power of the size. These scaling factors indicate a break even device would be about 6 foot square and that net power will be achieved with a 9 foot square device.

WB6 operating in November 2005.

Here's some eye candy for the geeks:

A 2 minute video showing a schematic flow of electrons & ions.

DR. Bussards website

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