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26-11-2010, 04:34 PM
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Efficiency and Safety
In the case of electricity generation, the speeding ionic particles would be coupled directly to the generation of electricity through a beam of ions being coupled by a high tech transformer into currents that are fed to capacitors, which would both pulse the energy back through the device to keep the process going, as well as send excess energy out for use on the grid.
This direct coupling is one of the primary advantages of this technology. It sidesteps the centuries-old approach of converting water to steam in order to drive turbines and generators. That process accounts for 80% of the total capital costs required in a typical power plant. By going straight from the fusion energy to electricity, Lerner's fusion process eliminates that need altogether, enabling streamlining of the process and a much smaller size to achieve equivalent power output.
And his device could be fired up and shut off with the flip of a switch, with no damaging radiation, no threat of meltdown, and no possibility of explosions. It is an all-or-nothing, full-bore or shut-off scenario. Because it can be shut off and turned on so easily, a bank of these could easily accommodate whatever surges and ebbs are faced by the grid on a given day, without wasting unused energy from non-peak times into the environment, which is the case with much of the grid’s energy at present.
Focus Fusion” refers to electricity generation using a Dense Plasma Focus (DPF) nuclear fusion generator with hydrogen-boron fuel (pB11).
If Focus Fusion reactors are made to work, they will provide virtually unlimited supplies of cheap energy in an environmentally sound way - no greenhouse gases, and no radiation - because the reaction of pB11 is aneutronic.
Focus Fusion faces two main technical challenges:
• it requires much higher ion temperatures and plasma density-confinement time product than Deuterium-Tritium fuel;
• and x-rays produced by the reaction reduce temperatures.
Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc. (LPP) is currently conducting experiments to demonstrate the feasibility of Focus Fusion in overcoming these challenges. LPP’s research addresses the challenges with four innovations based on well-verified, conventional physical theories: the DPF leverages, rather than fights, plasma instabilities; x-ray emissions are managed with the quantum magnetic field effect (QMFE); LPP’s patented photo-electric conversion device recaptures lost x-ray energy; an initial axial magnetic field optimizes efficiency of energy transfer.
LPP’s success will overcome previous limitations of the DPF and fuel to bring aneutronic pB11 fuel online. Aneutronic fusion will be truly transformative: free of Green House Gases, no radioactive waste, essentially inexhaustible and significantly cheaper than existing sources of electricity. And now, more about the process:
• The Dense Plasma Focus - history and design
• Hydrogen-Boron fuel
• How the Plasma Focus can be used to produce net energy from a fusion reaction
• How the energy can be turned directly into electricity
The Dense Plasma Focus - History and Design
The Dense Plasma Focus (DPF) is a device that has been used in research for the last 40 years. It was invented in 1964 and is used in many types of research. More on the history of the DPF and Focus Fusion »
The plasma focus device consists of two cylindrical copper or berillyum electrodes nested inside each other. The outer electrode is generally no more than 6-7 inches in diameter and a foot long. The electrodes are enclosed in a vacuum chamber with a low pressure gas (the fuel for the reaction) filling the space between them. The plasma focus device is shown in the figure below (Image designed by Glenn Millam).
How the Plasma Focus can be used to produce net energy from a fusion reaction
A pulse of electricity from a capacitor bank (an energy storage device) is discharged across the electrodes. For a few millionths of a second, an intense current flows from the outer to the inner electrode through the gas. This current starts to heat the gas and creates an intense magnetic field. Guided by its own magnetic field, the current forms itself into a thin sheath of tiny filaments; little whirlwinds of hot, electrically-conducting gas called plasma. A picture of these plasma filaments is shown below along with a schematic drawing. Another picture from a different angle is shown in the banner of this web page, and described here.
This sheath travels to the end of the inner electrode where the magnetic fields produced by the currents pinch and twist the plasma into a tiny, dense ball only a few thousandths of an inch across called a plasmoid. All of this happens without being guided by external magnets.
The magnetic fields very quickly collapse, and these changing magnetic fields induce an electric field which causes a beam of electrons to flow in one direction and a beam of ions (atoms that have lost electrons) in the other. The electron beam heats the plasmoid thus igniting fusion reactions which add more energy to the plasmoid. So in the end, the ion and electron beams contain more energy than was input by the original electric current.
How the energy can be turned directly into electricity
These beams of charged particles are directed into decelerators which act like particle accelerators in reverse. Instead of using electricity to accelerate charged particles they decelerate charged particles and generate electricity. Some of this electricity is recycled to power the next fusion pulse while the excess, the net energy, is the electricity produced by the fusion power plant.
How the Theoretical Focus Fusion Reactor Works
The proposed focus-fusion reactor involves two components: the hydrogen-boron fuel, and a plasma focus device. The combination of these into the focus-fusion process is the invention of Eric Lerner.
The plasma-focus technology has been well established elsewhere, and has a forty-year track record. Invented in 1964, the Dense Plasma Focus (DPF) device is used in many types of research.
As described on the Focus Fusion website, the DPF device consists of two cylindrical copper or beryllium electrodes nested inside each other. The outer electrode is generally no more than six to seven inches in diameter and a foot long. The electrodes are enclosed in a vacuum chamber with a low-pressure gas (the fuel for the reaction) filling the space between them.
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