In our July 5, 2013, report, the review committee stated, “The EMC2 team is finally at the threshold of success or failure with the Polywell / Wiffle Ball fusion power concept. The focus of EMC2 efforts has sharpened considerably and is now totally concentrated on experimentally producing a so-called Wiffle Ball (WB) plasma in a Polywell magnetic field configuration and diagnosing it in detail to verify its confinement properties, a step that is essential to the success of their fusion power concept.”
In a briefing on November 7, 2013, Dr. Jaeyoung Park of EMC2 provided the committee a very thorough briefing on their latest laboratory results. In the committee’s opinion the EMC2 staff has “kept their eyes on the ball” in spite of the trying financial conditions under which they have been operating for the past several months. Their recent results have been dramatic.
As stated in our July 5, 2013 report, “To achieve its near-term goals, EMC2 is using two arc plasma generators to produce plasma for WB study. While relatively inexpensive, these generators are less-than-optimum for the task at hand, because the resultant WB plasma is relatively cold (marginally collisional).”
In spite of the challenges of using the arc plasma generators, EMC2 has had outstanding success in recent months in demonstrating a key feasibility issue for the Wiffleball fusion concept, namely the enhancement of injected electron confinement in a Wiffleball magnetic geometry. The enhancement is roughly a factor of 100 better than would be expected in a conventional cusp magnetic field geometry, the standard against which their results must be measured.
The committee believes that EMC2 has successfully addressed a critical issue in the feasibility of aneutronic fusion, namely the enhancement of energetic electron confinement in a Wiffleball magnetic geometry by more than a factor of 100 over conventional cusp geometry. This marks the achievement of a goal that challenged the plasma physics and fusion communities over the last 50 years.
The committee believes that recent progress in the establishment of Wiffleball confinement is likely one of the most significant advances made in plasma physics and magnetic fusion over the past 50 years. Unfortunately it has come at a time when the funding for the program is in rapid decline. Further federal support is urgently needed, if The EMC2 assets are to be preserved and expanded. Otherwise, the United States could well lose another technology “invented here” but developed outside the country.
First a few slides describing electrostatic fusion and polywell fusion by EMC2 Fusion
Review committee members
Dr. Robert L. Hirsch, Committee Chairman
Senior Energy Advisor, Management Information Services, Inc. (MISI) and consultant in energy technologies, 2007 - present
Director fusion research, USAEC & ERDA, 1972-1976
Assistant Administrator, ERDA, 1976-1977
General Manager, Exxon Research and Engineering, 1977-1983
Vice President, Upstream Research, ARCO, 1983-1991
Vice President, EPRI, 1991-1994
Dr. Stephen O. Dean
President, Fusion Power Associates, 1979-present
DOE Fusion Energy Advisory Committee, Chaired review panel on Alternate Concepts
Secretary of Energy, Energy R&D Task Force
Editor, J. of Fusion Energy, Springer Publications, Inc.
Director, Magnetic Confinement Systems, AEC/ERDA/DOE 1972-79
Prof. Gerald L. Kulcinski
Associate Dean for Research, College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Grainger Professor of Nuclear Engineering; Director of the Fusion Technology Institute.
Technical Program Chair, ANS Topical Meeting on Fusion Technology, 1976, member of the Board of Directors (1987-90), chair of the Honors and Awards, Fusion Division, 1997-2004; General Chairman of the 16 th ANS Topical meeting on Fusion Technology (2004).
Associate Editor of Fusion Engineering and Design, 1983-2003.
Prof. George H. Miley
Professor, Departments of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois. 1967 – present, Sr. Scientist – Rockford Technology Inc., 1988-1993
President and Director of Research, NPL Associates, 1993 – present
Editor emeritus, Journal of Plasma Physics, Laser and Particle Beams, and Fusion Technology.
Prof. Dennis Papadopoulos
Professor of Physics, Departments of Physics and Astronomy, University of Maryland, 1979 – present
Senior scientist and division consultant, Plasma Physics Division, Naval Research Laboratory - 1969-1979
Science Advisor, Applied Physics Division, Office of Fusion Energy, DOE, 1978
Currently PI, Multi-University Research Initiative on the "Fundamental Physics Issues on Radiation Belt Dynamics and Remediation"
Dr. Ramy Shanny
Retired VP and General Manager of BAE SYSTEMS, Inc. Advanced Technologies (previously APTI), 2003 – 2010.
CEO and Chairman of the Board of Advanced Power Technologies, Inc., 1988–2003
President and Chief Executive Officer, INESCO, Inc. responsible for the development of the Riggatron compact fusion concept, 1977-86
Executive Assistant to the President and Director, Science Applications International Corporation, 1975-76
Naval Research Laboratory. Section Head of Plasma Computations. Later, Head of the Plasma Physics Division, 1969-75
Here is a review from 2012
Here is a review from 2008