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Is there a specific reason why this aneutronic Focus Fusion experiment has to fail ?

+ 2 like - 0 dislike
3416 views

Hi, I am following this project for some time, they just started their crowdfunding campaign here

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/focus-fusion-empowertheworld--3

Description of the process / experiment can be found here

http://focusfusion.org/index.php/site/article/lpp_experiment_8_goals_and_timeline/

http://focusfusion.org/index.php/site/category/C30

So the question is in the title. Or can they succeed ? See this ArXiV paper.

Thanks a lot for any insight.

Have a great day and good luck !

asked May 21, 2014 in Experimental Physics by yuri [ revision history ]
edited May 24, 2014 by dimension10

Hi yuri, can you summarize directly in the question what "aneutronic Focus Fusion" is meant to be (what is the physics behind it) and link to a relevant physics paper, from the ArXiv for example?

Thanks Mitchell, now I wonder if @RonMaimon would have something to say about this ...?

I am sorry I am not a physicist, another article with better description for common people is here :

http://www.gizmag.com/nuclear-fusion-power-2020-crowdfunding/32058/

thanks a lot for insights - I was thinking along similar lines as mentioned below by Steve B.

I still wish them the best of luck and possibly send some bucks as well ;)

For those interested, here is Oxford Scientific Society Talk - Eric Lerner - "Crowdfunding a short route to fusion"

3 Answers

+ 3 like - 0 dislike

I perused the links you gave.

Aneutronic fusion has no problems with the physics as far as possibility of getting clean energy out with less than 1% of the energy going to neutrons. The hydrogen boron fusion is in the possibilities in the table given at the link:

It seems that the project has made progress and the company is  hoping to finance the next step,

Our main goal for this year remains to increase the density of the plasmoid, the tiny ball of plasma where reactions take place, the third and last condition needed to achieve net energy production. Since we won’t resume experimental testing until May, we don’t expect to complete the demonstration of scientific feasibility in 2014, but we do expect to take large steps towards that goal.

Success or not will depend on technological steps and not on basic feasibility as regards physics.

answered May 22, 2014 by anna v (1,875 points) [ no revision ]

Thanks for this enlightening answer anna :-)

+ 2 like - 0 dislike

Physics reasons: This blog post by Mike B Hopkins, following up this previous one, suggests that the Focus Fusion results are consistent with other experiments and calculations and known scaling-laws, and that the fusion is coming from ion acceleration rather than high temperatures, and that (related to this) this is not an approach that can possibly produce net power.

(I don't know plasma physics, I cannot vouch for this.)

Aneutronic fusion is a real thing, but requires 10X higher temperature than D-T fusion (according to wikipedia).

Non-physics reasons:

1. The founder Eric Lerner is one of only two people officially affiliated with the company who has any professional plasma physics experience. Not only working there, but even on the board of advisors! (The other one is their "consultant" John Thompson, whose PhD training was not in plasma physics, but apparently he did applied plasma physics at companies afterwards.)

This suggests that either (A) Dr Lerner cannot convince any plasma physicists that this project is worthwhile, and/or (B) He is too cocky to want other professional plasma physicists to be involved, and/or (C) Plasma physicists do not want to work with him for whatever reason.

2. Eric Lerner has crazy ideas about astrophysics (he thinks the Big Bang theory is wrong, that the universe is not expanding, etc.). OK, no big deal. A lot of people have crazy ideas about something or other. It doesn't automatically mean they are incompetent in their areas of core expertise. But, the fact that he is promoting his personal crazy astrophysics ideas on the fusion energy company website, rather than on a separate personal website, is weird and disturbingly unprofessional.

Since the success of an experiment (to say nothing of a business) depends not only on sound physics but also on people-skills and managerial competence, I think these are legitimate reasons to guess that the experiment will fail.

answered May 22, 2014 by Steve B (125 points) [ no revision ]

Well, the 10X higher temperatures might be achievable with their plasmoid business. They have published the previous level of their research, one has to wait and see the results of their scale up. Of course  even if they break even  final cost benefit etc might not add up but that is not relevant to physics.
 

He may be unprofessional, but actually science need "crazy" ideas, there's a lot of people not believing Big Bang is correct and there are many alternative models.

+ 0 like - 0 dislike
There are two other reasons that we don’t have enough plasma physicists on this team (the real ones). 1) We don’t have enough money to hire as many as we need. 2) The ones who are most qualified do not have US working papers. The outstanding scientist that we are about to hire had to wait two years for the US government to issue his visa. I have over two dozen applications for work from PhD plasma physicists. All of them need working papers (the US is not training very many on our type of machine) and they all need wages. Want to help?—visit us here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/focus-fusion-empowertheworld--3/x/6249476
answered May 25, 2014 by Eric Lerner [ no revision ]

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