Milestone 1: Achieve pinch on FF1 machine
This milestone was already achieved before the last milestone update in November 2009.
Milestone 2: Achieve pinch at 25kV and 1MA, determine optimum gas pressure
In April we achieved a pinch at 30kV and 1MA. Optimizing the gas pressure is ongoing.
Milestone 3: Test theory of axial magnetic field
In March we saw clear evidence that an initial axial magnetic field increases fusion yield.
Milestone 4: Achieve pinch at 45kV and 2MA with deuterium – Not yet
Milestone 5: Confirm Texas results with better instruments – not yet
Milestone 6: Optimize for heavier gasses
Deuterium has an atomic weight of 2. A 50/50 mix of hydrogen and boron-11 has an average atomic weight of 6. There are some plasma parameters that depend on the atomic weight of the particles in the plasma. As we shift to heavier atomic weight we will need to adjust the length of the electrodes, the initial fill pressure, shot timing, etc. to maintain optimum plasmoid conditions. We will do this by mixing in helium (atomic weight 4) and nitrogen (atomic weight 14) to add weight without adding the complexity of nuclear reactions.
Milestone 7: Achieve fusion with pB11
This is an important step where we switch from the nuclear-inert gasses helium and nitrogen to boron that can fuse with protons. If we achieve our previous milestones and create plasmoids with high enough temperature and density then fusion should just happen and this milestone won’t require any additional adjustments, but it will still be nice to finally see it happen.
Milestone 8: Achieve positive net energy
This milestone means more energy created from fusion than electricity consumed to fire the DPF. We expect to be able to achieve significantly more fusion energy created than electricity consumed so that even after losses from capturing the fusion energy from charged particles and x-rays we can produce more electricity than we consume.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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