4 thoughts on “Nuclear Fusion”

  1. No I don’t think so.

    Microsoft investing in it doesn’t make me any more excited about the prospect of it happening sooner rather than later than does expecting the next version of Excel to fix all its issues (clipboard in use… hint hint).

    Aneutronic fusion is the Holy Grail of nuclear fusion. But so far, and as was pointed out in the above article, it requires *both* an engineering AND a theoretical breakthrough. The Ritter Thesis (which earned him a PhD in Nuclear Physics from MIT, back in the mid-90s) shows that above break-even is not possible for a plasma in thermal equilibrium when using aneutronic fuels due to Bremsstrahlung losses in the plasma.

    Now if they are attempting to burn these fuels in a non-equilibrium plasma, that would be an engineering breakthrough. OR if they are using a plasma in thermal equilibrium then THAT would be a theoretical breakthrough. Pick one (or two). But I’ve seen nothing published to make me think otherwise, except a lot of hype.

    The guy I admired most in this field was Paul M. Koloc, who’d built a machine he claimed could make miniature ball lightning on demand. His plan was to electrostatically compress his ball lightning to induce aneutronic fusion in the plasmoids (as he called them) in a proton+boron(6) isotopic fusion reaction. The goal was to achieve these reactions at a rate of 60 times a second (and there’s a major point to that). He never successfully demonstrated the latter.

    D-T fusion is more than possible and has been demonstrated many times. In fact as the article points out most recently briefly above break-even for the first time ever at the NIF. But this reaction if sustained on a commercial scale produces copious (copious – a word that is way, way, orders of magnitude, too humble a word to describe it) amount of neutrons that would without heavy shielding both em-brittle and render highly radioactive any metal containment vessel used to contain the vacuum for the plasma.

    I would rather see some real information published in these areas before I can get enthused let alone excited.

    I don’t know why people keep ignoring Ritter’s work. To me it seems fundamental to overcoming the issue of making progress in aneutronic fusion. It it ignorance or chicanery?

    1. Sorry my memory swapped p+6Li in for p+11B. It is the latter I believe Koloc was trying to use.

      Regrettably Paul M. Koloc is deceased.

      Oh and the paper is from Dr. Todd H. Rider (Not Ritter! Damn memory!). You’ll see it correct if you follow the link. See specifically the Summary in Section 8.1.6. These bullet points and the suggestions in section 8.2 I leave as an exercise for the reader.

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