Nuclear Fusion Discovered

I failed to blog this last week, anyway it’s worth mentioning – the Economist have a piece on it. Not read up on fusion?

In principle, nuclear fusion is a simple process. All you have to do is push two suitable atomic nuclei close enough together for them to overcome their mutual electrical repulsion (since both are positively charged) and they will merge. This merger releases oodles of energy. The usual way to push nuclei together is to smash them into one another at high speed. In thermonuclear fusion (the sort that happens in the sun, in hydrogen bombs, and in traditional fusion experiments) that speed is achieved by heating the atoms up. But this, as Dr Naranjo and his colleagues realised, is not the only way to do things. You can, as they have done, simply accelerate a stream of nuclei to high velocity, and fire them into a stationary target.

And the experiment…

Dr Naranjo, by contrast, has devised a compact way of generating high voltages at much lower power using a so-called pyroelectric crystal.

Heating such a crystal (or, rather, warming it from -30°C to just above freezing point) deforms its structure in a way that concentrates positive charge in one place and negative charge in another. That results in a big voltage between the two. The researchers then amplified the effect of the positive charge by attaching a metal tip to the place where it was accumulating. This concentrated the electrical field in the same way that the point of a lightning conductor concentrates the stroke.

Dr Naranjo used this effect two ways: first to strip deuterium atoms of their electrons and second to repel the resulting stream of deuterium nuclei at high speed towards a target containing more deuterium. When two deuterium nuclei (each composed of a proton and a neutron) fuse, the result is a type of helium composed of two protons and a neutron, a free neutron, and a lot of energy. The bombardment also produces a lot of X-rays. By counting the neutrons and measuring the X-rays the researchers estimate that about 1,000 pairs of deuterium nuclei were fusing every second.

This is, as they are the first to admit, a long way from producing a significant amount of energy. And although they reckon they could boost the fusion rate 1,000-fold with better apparatus, that still might not reach the magic threshold of producing more energy than it takes to run the experiment. Beyond that, they are understandably unwilling to speculate.

3 Responses to “Nuclear Fusion Discovered”

  1. Erich J. Knight says:

    A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy

    Over the past year many luminaries have made clarion calls for a concerted effort to solve the energy crisis. It is a crisis, with 300 million middle class Chinese determined to attain the unsustainable lifestyle we have sold them. Their thirst for oil is growing at 30% a year, and can do nothing but heat the earth and spark political conflict.

    We have been heating the earth since the agricultural revolution with the positive result of providing 10,000 years of warm stability. But since the Industrial revolution we have been pushing the biosphere over the brink. Life forces have done this before — during the snowball earth period ( Cryogenian Period ) in the Neoproterozoic toward the end of the Precambrian – but that life force was not sentient!

    Thomas Freedman of the New York Times has called for a Manhattan Project for clean energy The New York Times> Search> Abstract. Richard Smalley, one of the fathers of nanotechnology, has made a similar plea
    We are at the cusp in several technologies to fulfilling this clean energy dream. All that we need is the political leadership to shift our fiscal priorities.

    I feel our resources should be focused in three promising technologies:

    1. Nanotechnology: The exploitation of quantum effects is finally being seen in these new materials. Photovoltaics (PV) are at last going beyond silicon, with many companies promising near-term breakthroughs in efficiencies and lower cost. Even silicon is gaining new efficienies from nano-tech: Researchers develop technique to use dirty silicon, could pave way for cheaper solar energy
    New work on diodes also has great implications for PV, LEDs and micro-electronics Nanotubes make perfect diodes (August 2005) – News – PhysicsWeb
    And direct solar to hydrogen, I was told they have hit 10% efficiency and solved mass production problems: Hydrogen Solar home
    And just coming out of the lab, this looks very strong, it brings full spectrum efficiencies to PVs: UB News Services-solar nano-dots

    1a. Thermionics: The direct conversion of heat to electricity has been at best only 5% efficient. Now with quantum tunneling chips we are talking 80% of carnot efficiency. A good example is the proposed thermionic car design of Borealis. ( ) . The estimated well-to-wheel efficiency is over 50%. This compares to 13% for internal combustion and 27% for hydrogen fuel cells. This means a car that has a range of 1500 miles on one fill up. Rodney T. Cox, president of Borealis, has told me that he plans to have this car developed within two years. Boeing has already used his Chorus motor drives
    on the nose gear of it’s 767. (Boeing Demonstrates New Technology for Moving Airplanes on the Ground )
    The Borealis thermocouple power chips (and cool chips) applied to all the waste heat in our economy would make our unsustainable lifestyle more than sustainable.
    You may find an extensive discussion on thermo electric patents at: Nanalyze Forums – Direct conversion of heat to electricity

    2. Biotechnology: Since his revolutionary work on the human genome project, Craig Venter has been finding thousands of previously unknown life forms in the sea and air. His goal is to use these creatures to develop the ultimate energy bug to produce hydrogen and or use of their photoreceptor genes for solar energy. Imagine a bioreactor in your home taking all your waste, adding some solar energy, and your electric and transportation needs are fulfilled.

    3. Fusion: Here I am not talking about the big science ITER project taking thirty years, but the several small alternative plasma fusion efforts and maybe bubble fusion – Is bubble fusion back? (July 2005) – News – PhysicsWeb )

    On the big science side I do have hopes for the LDX :

    There are three companies pursuing hydrogen-boron plasma toroid fusion, Paul Koloc, Prometheus II, Eric Lerner, Focus Fusion and Clint Seward of Electron Power Systems . A resent DOD review of EPS technology reads as follows:

    “MIT considers these plasmas a revolutionary breakthrough, with Delphi’s
    chief scientist and senior manager for advanced technology both agreeing
    that EST/SPT physics are repeatable and theoretically explainable. MIT and
    EPS have jointly authored numerous professional papers describing their
    work. (Delphi is a $33B company, the spun off Delco Division of General


    “Cost: no cost data available. The complexity of reliable mini-toroid
    formation and acceleration with compact, relatively low-cost equipment
    remains to be determined. Yet the fact that the EPS/MIT STTR work this
    technology has attracted interest from Delphi is very significant, as the
    automotive electronics industry is considered to be extremely demanding of
    functionality per dollar and pound (e.g., mil-spec performance at
    Wal-Mart-class ‘commodity’ prices).”

    EPS, Electron Power Systems seems the strongest and most advanced, and I love the scalability, They propose applications as varied as home power generation@ .ooo5 cents/KWhr, cars, distributed power, airplanes, space propulsion , power storage and kinetic weapons.

    It also provides a theoretic base for ball lighting : Ball Lightning Explained as a Stable Plasma Toroid
    The theoretics are all there in peer reviewed papers. It does sound to good to be true however with names like MIT, Delphi, STTR grants, NIST grants , etc., popping up all over, I have to keep investigating.

    Recent support has also come from one of the top lightning researcher in the world, Joe Dwyer at FIT, when he got his Y-ray and X-ray research published in the May issue of Scientific American,
    Dwyer’s paper:

    and according to Clint Seward it supports his lightning models and fusion work at Electron Power Systems

    Clint sent Joe and I his new paper on a lightning charge transport model of cloud to ground lightning (he did not want me to post it to the web yet). Joe was supportive and suggested some other papers to consider and Clint is now in re-write.

    It may also explain Elves, blue jets, sprites and red sprites, plasmas that appear above thunder storms. After a little searching, this seemed to have the best hard numbers on the observations of sprites.

    Dr. Mark A. Stanley’s Dissertation

    And may also explain the spiral twist of some fulgurites, hollow fused sand tubes found in sandy ground at lightning strikes.

    lightning produces thermonuclear reaction
    This new work By Dr.Kuzhevsky on neutrons in lightning: Russian Science News is also supportive of Electron Power Systems fusion efforts . I sent it to Clint Seward and here’s his reply:

    “There is another method to producing neutrons that fits my lightning model that I have described to you.
    It is well known that electron beams have been used extensively to produce neutrons, above electron energies of 10 MeV, well within the voltages reported in the lightning event. (An Internet search produced several articles that reported this). I do not pretend to have researched this extensively, and do not know the actual target molecules or the process, but it appears plausible from what the papers report, and is consistent with my lightning model.
    The proposed method you sent to me is a lot more complex, and I would have to say I can not agree with the article as written without experimental results.”

    Here’s an email that is very good news for Paul Koloc’s and Eric Lerner’s work on P-B11 fusion.

    He’s referring to a power point presentation given at the 05 6th symposium on current trends in international fusion research , which high lights the need to fully fund three different approaches to P-B11 fusion . 1.) Prometheus II , 2.) Field Revered Configuration, and 3.) Focus Fusion

    It’s by Vincent Page a technology officer at GE.
    Email me and I’ll send it to anyone interested.

    from : Paul M. Koloc; Prometheus II, Ltd.; 9903 Cottrell Terrace,
    | Silver Spring, MD 20903-1927; FAX (301) 434-6737: Tel (301) 445-1075
    | Grid Power -Raising $$Support$$ -;*

    Thanks for your update,

    A friend of mine, Bruce Pittman, who is a member of the AIAA, recently sent me a copy of the attached paper by Vincent Page of GE. Please keep in mind that I have never communicated with Vincent, but he found our concept to have the highest probability of success for achieving a commercial fusion power plant of any that he examined.

    A program manager at DARPA submitted a POM for sizeable funding of extended research on our concept, both here and at Los Alamos National Laboratory. However, it didn’t stay above this year’s cut line for the budget funding priorities.

    BTW, I agree with Cox that the analysis done by Chen does not fit the criteria of the EST plasmoid that Clint produces. The poloidal component of current in his toroid dominates his topology, which means that the corresponding toroidal field, which is only produced within the torus, also dominates. Consequently, the outward pressure on the EST current shell must be balanced by some external inward force. The toroidal component of current is weak and cannot produce the external poloidal magnetic pressure that would bring the toroid into stable equilibrium. If the plasmoid lasts for .6 seconds without change of shape or brightness level, then it must be continuously formed with his electron beam source. Otherwise, the plasma would decompose within microseconds.

    By comparison, our PLASMAK magnetoplasmoids (PMKs) have negligible change in shape, size or luminosity over a period of one or two hundred milliseconds after the initial tens of microseconds impulse that forms them has ceased. That may not sound like much of a lifetime, but compare that to the decomposition of Lawrence Livermore’s spheromak plasma within 60 microseconds. The other interesting thing is that we have recently produced PMKs of 40 cm diameter (under work sponsored by DOD), and with the installation of our new, additional fast rise capacitors, we expect to obtain lifetimes of seconds.

    Paul ”

    The learning curve is so steep now, and with the resources of the online community, I’m sure we can rally greater support to solve this paramount problem of our time. I hold no truck with those who argue that big business or government are suppressing these technologies. It is only our complacency and comfort that blind us from pushing our leaders toward clean energy.

    Erich J. Knight
    (540) 289-9750

  2. Erich J. Knight says:

    Dear Folks:

    Clint Seward just sent this update of their progress at , a very nice time frame, if Clint can find the funding:

    “Hi All,

    The following is the annual update to the EPS progress toward a clean energy solution to replace fossil fuels. Below is a brief summary of where we are. Attached is an updated copy of the manuscript describing our project.

    It remains clear that we have made and patented a new discovery in physics: a plasma toroid the remains stable without external magnetic fields. This is so far beyond the experience and understanding of plasma scientists today that, to say the least, we are having trouble convincing reviewers. We have completed the design of an improved neutron tube. This is what we have to build to demonstrate a clean energy source, and I plan to do the first steps in 2006, with a first demo in 2007 if all goes well.

    Clint Seward, EPS

    Chapter 27. Colliding EST Spheromak Neutron Tube

    In 2005 we completed a detailed design of the apparatus we need for the first demonstration. This is possible because of two things. First, we understand the EST is really just a special case of a spheromak, a plasma ring that is being studied by others, except that the EST is high density spheromak, which will overcome the limitations of spheromaks for the clean energy application. Secondly, we can adapt the EST Spheromak to the well known neutron tube, by applying all of the pieces we have developed over the years.

    We plan to do this by making a new, high energy neutron tube. There are several thousand neutron tubes in use in the US today that safely collide hydrogen ions to produce neutrons, which in turn are used for explosives detection, industrial process control, and medical testing. Figure 1 shows the neutron tube schematically. An ion source produces hydrogen ions (deuterium), which are accelerated to 110 kV, then directed to hit the target (also deuterium), a process which produces neutrons (see reference below).

    Figure 1: A One Meter Long Neutron Tube Schematic

    Neutron tubes today are limited by the low density of the hydrogen ions. We plan to overcome this limitation by adapting the EST Spheromak to increase the ion density to produce a high output neutron tube. The EST Spheromak is patented jointly by EPS Inc. and MIT scientists who also have published papers confirming the physics and data. Since each part of the development has been done by others or by EPS, we anticipate that this will be an engineering project to produce a proof of concept lab demo in two years, with modest funding.

    The major application is a high output neutron tube for clean energy applications. The high output neutron tube can be thought of as a heat generator to replace a furnace and/or generate electricity. Fuel costs for energy will 20:1 less than fossil fuel costs. Ultimately we plan to use the hydrogen/boron process to produce clean energy without neutrons.

    The development is a scale up of work completed to date. We make EST Spheromaks in the lab and accelerate them. Each step has been shown to work individually, and we plan to adapt them to produce a lab demo in two years. Milestones:

    1. Defining Patent: (Note: co-inventors are MIT scientists). 2000

    2. Spheromak acceleration: 2001

    3. Spheromak capture in a magnetic trap: 2006

    4. Spheromak collision for a lab proof of concept demonstration: 2007

    5. First neutron tube commercial prototype: 2008

    6. First commercial product: 2009

    Our best estimate at this time (December 2005) is that we will need 24 months and approximately $500,000 to demonstrate a colliding EST fusion process.

    Reference: Chichester, D. L., Simpson, and J. D. “Compact accelerator neutron generators.” The Industrial Physicist. American Institute of Physics. December, 2003.”


    I am glad to see the interest in Vincent Page’s presentation given at the 05 6th symposium on current trends in international fusion research , which high lights the need to fully fund three different approaches to P-B11 fusion in other forums, (Below Is an excerpt). Vincent Page is a technology officer at GE!!

    He quotes costs and time to development of P-B11 Fusion as tens of million $, and years verses the many decades and ten Billion plus $ projected for ITER and other “Big” science efforts:

    “for larger plant sizes
    Time to small-scale Cost to achieve net if the small-scale
    Concept Description net energy production energy concept works:
    Koloc Spherical Plasma: 10 years(time frame), $25 million (cost), 80%(chance of success)
    Field Reversed Configuration: 8 years $75 million 60%
    Plasma Focus: 6 years $18 million 80%

    Desirable Fusion Reactor Qualities
    • Research & development is also needed in
    the area of computing power.
    • Many fusion researchers of necessity still
    use MHD theory to validate their designs.
    • MHD theory assumes perfect diamagnetism
    and perfect conductance.
    • These qualities may not always exist in the
    real world, particularly during continuous operation.
    • More computing power is needed to allow use of a more realistic validation theory
    such as the Vlasov equations.
    • ORNL is in the process of adding some impressive computing power.
    • Researchers now need to develop more realistic validation methods up to the
    limits of the available computing power.
    • Governments need to fund these efforts.”

    I feel in light of the recent findings of neutrons, x-rays, and gamma rays in lightening, that these threads need to be brought together in an article.

    You may have seen my efforts with my “Manhattan Project” article, which got published on Sci-Scoop and the Open Source Energy Network but rejected on Slashdot. The New Energy News will soon run an article on these companies efforts toward aneutronic fusion.

    About a year ago, I came across EPS while researching nano-tech and efficient home design. I started a correspondence Clint Seward, Eric Learner, and Paul Kolac, sending them science news links which I felt were either supportive or contradictory to their work. I also asked them to critique each other’s approaches. I have posted these emails to numerous physics and science forums. Discussion groups, science journalists, and other academics, trying to foster discussion, attention, and hopefully some concessus on the validity of these proposed technologies.
    My efforts have born some fruit. Clint and Joe Dwyer at FIT have been in consultation on Clint’s current charge transport theory for cloud to ground lightening.
    I have had several replies from editors, producers, and journalists expressing interest. From organizations as varied as PBS, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, New Energy News, the Guardian (U.K), and the San Francisco Chronicle. However, none of this professional interest has resulted in a story yet.

    I have been responding to all of the articles that filter in via my Google alerts on “fusion power”. The most recent was the “Happy News” article by Kris Metaverso.…ependently.htm

    This post is a plea to the science writers among you to craft a story covering aneutronic fusion, the P-B11 efforts, Eric’s high temperatures and x-ray source project, Clint’s lightening theories, and DOD review, and Paul’s review by GE. The minimal cost and time frame for even the possibility of this leap forward seems criminal not to pursue. If you read my Manhattan article, you may have noticed that I am not a writer. I am a landscape designer and technology gadfly wondering why this technology has never been put in the public eye.
    My hope is that someone, more skilled, would step up to give a shout out about these technologies. Please contact me for copies of my correspondence with the principles, interesting replies and criticisms from physics discussion forums and academic physicists who have replied to my queries.

    Thanks for any help

    Erich J. Knight
    “Religion Is Bunk ” T. A. Edison

  3. Erich J. Knight says:

    Looks like Eric Lerner is moving down the road!!

    U.S., Chilean Labs to Collaborate on Testing Scientific Feasibility of Focus Fusion