KMS Fusion – an addendum

KMS Fusion, an early ICF group mostly remembered for its mashup of good science and bad politics. This is our historical addendum.

An excellent article on the beginning of ICF (inertial confinement fusion) was posted on January 28th by ScienceLine’s Chelsey Coombes.  This is a summary of Alex Wellerstein‘s presentation at the October 2014 meeting of the New York Academy of Science.

Wellerstein is a respected science historian specializing in American Classified research, and is located at Stevens Institute of Technology.


Fig 1    Early ICF labs cited in this report

Coombes’ (and Wellerstein’s) good discussion of the early days of inertial confinement fusion traces development of the LLNL  indirect drive approach and the KMS fusion direct drive alternative (see Fig 1).  We also discuss, in passing, ICF efforts at LANL.

We add a missing link to the KMSf  story, one that I have never seen mention in any published description of the early days of fusion energy research.  This small band of researchers produced some of the best results in ICF physics in the 1970s and even the ’80s, but their leadership made stunningly bad political mistakes that got themselves ignored by history. Continue reading

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KXL threatens US environment -Not energy -Not climate

Keystone XL is is a threat to US environmental integrity. Its Senate vote is near.

The bill forcing development of the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline build is about to be set before the president.   The proponents say it is about (A) permanent jobs and lots of them, and (B) oil independence for good ol’ U.S. of A.   It is about neither.

Bridger Poplar System kills life

Fig 1  Fish kill in Yellowstone River from 2015  leak of Bridger Pipeline’s Poplar System

The American issue is truly about the transport of dangerous but profitable product through delicate environmental structures.

Pipelines leak.

Here is a good discussion about a very recent demonstration:   Does the Yellowstone River Oil Spill Foreshadow The Future… ?   Posted by ,   Fig 1 shows a bit of its toll.

The issue as a bullet list –

  • Transport of processed tar sands involves solvents to keep the stuff fluid (dilbit, see our Index for other KXL discussions)
  • These solvents are chemically active hydrocarbons, they attack most things.
  • These are things that would destroy you, were you to drink some.
  • When oil pipelines break, solvents are the first things locals have to deal with, the tar-like residue is another, either to be cleaned up later, or labeled “unimportant.”
  • Sometimes consequences extend far beyond the folks initially bothered by the issue.

Fig 2 shows the location of this month’s (2015 Jan 17) Leakage. Bridger Pipeline’s Poplar System 83 is near the route for KXL, it dumped into Montana’s Yellowstone River.  Continue reading

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Fusion Paths Not Taken -4

Secretive Tri Alpha Energy makes fusion progress. Has private backers and Government ones too, but –Russian– not U.S.

We finish our Fusion Paths Not Taken  series by looking at Tri Alpha Energy (TAE).  TAE was started with the explicit goal of using the difficult  p-11B fuel and did not want any part of the toroidal strategies in vogue at that time that were commonly considered incapable of reaching the required temperatures.  Tri Alpha was the center of advocacy for the fuel, and has weathered continuous criticisms.

p-11B is the aneutronic (non-neutron generating) fuel that would perfectly complete the fusion dream.  Except that

  • the temperatures required for maximum fusion are in the range of 1½ – 5 thousand million of degrees. the standard D-T fuel is 10 times lower.
  • it has the lowest maximum probability of fusion events per ion-ion collision of all proposed fusion fuels of D-T and D-3He.

Click any image to see its full sized version.

Tri Alpha Energy SpecificationsTri Alpha Energy (TAE)           p-11B
Dale Prouty

Norman Rostoker ca2003 400x433

Fig 1:  Norman Rostoker  1925 Aug 16 — 2014 Dec 25

Tri Alpha Energy (TAE) was formed in 1998 when  Norman Rostoker, professor of physics at the University of California – Irvine was joined by Hendrik Monkhorst to set up the company near UC-Irvine.

Hendrik Monkhorst

Fig 2:  Hendrik Monkhorst

Monkhorst was from the CBFR project at the University of Florida.   Michl W. Binderbauer (UC-Irvine) was the co-author of the 1998 proposals CBFR + p-11B paper and current CTO at TAE.

The goal was to develop a compact reactor that did not use fuel that emits neutrons and  Continue reading

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Fusion Paths Not Taken -3

Outlier LPP proposes Dense Plasma Focus and the hardest fuel!  Do they really have a chance?

In these final two posts, we discuss proposals that use magnetized target fusion ideas but both have the goal using p-11B fuel at successful start up.

We  discussed p-11B, earlier.  It generate 3 alpha particles (helium nuclei) and no neutrons; but it demands temperatures in the billions of degrees and it has a much lower probability of fusion-per-collision than either D-T or D-3He, the other commonly considered fuels.

There is a lot of skepticism in the fusion community relating to these two small companies. Each deserve its own discussion. Click any image to see its full sized version.

LPPF SpecificationsLPPF                                                      p-11B
Eric Lerner
DPF fusion, Focus Fusion power

Eric Lerner

Fig 1: Eric Lerner with the FF-1

2014 Dec 24 :  LPP announces pending name change to LPPF, initials only.  Currently, its web page is unchanged.

Dr. Lerner has been on the DPF quest for many years, and assembled his LPPF company for a realistic try at making an FF device operational.  His test bed is called FF-1. Continue reading

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Fusion Paths not taken 2

Do magnetized plasma targets offer options for smaller, cheaper fusion power?

In this part -2 of our Paths Not Followed series, we discuss 3 proposals that show promise of being fusion game changers.  All consider manipulating blobs of plasma isolated from any coils that generate magnetic fields for confinement.

All our proposals involve fusion concepts with a compact toroid  (CT) also known as a magnetized target fusion (MTF) object, i.e., blobs of magnetized plasma whose self-fields are sufficiently stable to provide confinement.  People sometimes use MTF and MIF (Magneto Inertial Fusion) interchangeably.

Magnitized Target Fusion, Field Reversed Configuration, Colliding PlasmaThe internal fields in a CT will hold it together for a time (much) longer than required for thermal drift to dissipate an similar but unmagnetized blob.

  • General Fusion                         D-T
    Inject an MTF blob into a chamber, generate shock to cause implosion fusion.
  • Helion Energy                         D-3He
    Use 2 MTFs for colliding plasma targets, pinch the stagnation to fusion conditions
  • HyperV  Technologies           D-T
    Plasma Jet Liner.  Fire many high speed MTFs to collide, stagnate and form a high energy liner to partially compress a target plasma blob. Magnetically pinch the target to final stagnation and fusion.

Continue reading

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Fusion Paths Not Taken – 1

Magnetically confined plasma fusion was abandoned decades ago. Has their time come?

Magnetic fusion concepts require coils to form the field.  One path that is still being proposed is to embed the coils into the fusion-grade plasma because confinement can be nearly steady.

Cusp, quadrupole, quadrapole,octupole, octopole

Fig 1:  Paths not taken: Cusps and multipoles  —quadurpoles, octupoles

We discuss 3 proposals that hold some promise of being game changers.

  • Polywell proposal from EMC2
  • CFR proposal from Lockheed-Martin
  • Dynomak proposal from the University of Washington’s graduate school in fusion energy research.

These are small companies formed during the 35 years — since American magnetic fusion funding was decreased to a strangulation level.

They are usually near universities, to pursue ideas that are not in the tokamak mainstream of thinking.

Make no mistake, these companies want to be the change agents in the fusion community.  They all believe Continue reading

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Stirring the Fusion Pot

8 companies are looking for non-government funding of their innovative fusion ideas.  Hoax or real?

There are a number of reports in the recent months of Amazing! New! and Simple! ways of generating fusion power. Fraction of the cost of mainline fusion designs! Power cheaper than coal! Whoosh! What could be better than those?

  • Just try our one simple trick and get all the free energy you want! Oh? Sounds like a phishing ad – maybe like those in the side boxes at Yahoo News.
  • Or maybe … could they have the real thing, that simple step?
    You know – the one that works!

This post is the lead-in to our new series called Fusion Paths Not Taken about the wanna-be game-changers operating in the fusion energy arena. Or, at least, those that are making a fuss in the news media.

Fusion reactor proposals

Fig 1: Reactor concepts from programs looking for support

FIg 1 shows 7 of (at least) 8 hot fusion aspirants who are generating breathless reports on new ways guaranteed to make fusion power.   And Hey! they each need private funding.   These show scaling to human size (the Helion concept Continue reading

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