The ion beam produced by a plasma focus device (LPP nuclear fusion project) will be the primary means of getting electric power out of the device. On February 28, while firing Focus Fusion -1 (FF-1), LPP’s experimental plasma focus device, the team observed a record 380 GW peak power in the ion beam. The previous most powerful beam observed had a peak power of 93 GW , so the new beam is a four – fold improvement. In addition, this was the first beam observed that, at least in part, went all the way down the meter – long drift tube that is attached to the underside of the FF-1 vacuum chamber . It was also the first beam that equaled or exceeded our theoretical predictions. Both the higher peak power and the beam’s more vertical direction are signs of increasing symmetry of the compression that forms the plasmoid, a key goal of LPP’s current efforts.
Indeed, the beam was probably considerably more powerful than the figure we measured, as LPP’s Chief Scientist Eric Lerner calculated that about half the beam spread out beyond the 1 -cm wide entrance hole to the drift tube. We believe this is the most powerful beam ever measured from a plasma focus device, although we will have to search the literature more thoroughly to make that claim with certainty.
Of course, the beam only lasted 5 – ns, so it and the equally powerful electron beam emitted in the opposite direct carried only about 4 kJ of energy, about 1/15 th of the total energy fed into the electrodes during the much longer 2 – microsecond rise – time of the current from the capacitors. To get more energy out of the beam than is put in will require much higher fusion yield than is presently obtained in FF-1.
Compression improves as we see our smallest plasmoid yet
Over the past few months, LPP’s experimental team has been trying to improve the symmetry of the compression that creates the plasmoid, so that the plasmoid will become smaller and denser.
Higher density will make the fusion fuel burn faster and produce more energy output. Up until now, the core of our plasmoids, which are shaped like the sugar glaze on a doughnut, was no smaller than 300 microns in radius. Although this sounds pretty tiny, our goal was to get it down to 50 microns radius, with much higher density. We know that this is possible, as other researchers using similar plasma focus devices have observed and measured plasmoids this small. We also know that other researchers have achieved ion densities up to a few thousand times higher than what we have achieved, (hundreds of milligrams/cc vs our 0.1 milligram/cc) so we know that this too is possible.
A few shots after we got a record beam, on shot 7 of February 28 , we also imaged our smallest plasmoid yet, with a core radius of only 200 microns.
Our smallest plasmoid yet, in formation. The plasmoid is forming at the narrowest “waist” of this image, which is 1 cm across. The waist is only 200 microns in radius. The black specks are defects in the ICCD imaging device
Leaks squeezed down by 100 fold
When 2013 began, FF-1 was beset by persistent leaks. The leak problem is pretty much solved.
What is Focus Fusion?
Controlled Nuclear Fusion using Dense Plasma Focus AND Hydrogen-Boron (Aneutronic) Fuel.
Goal product: 5 MW Focus Fusion generator Lower projected cost than any other energy tech $60/kW, .2 cents/kW-hr
Next: Achieve high densities with commercial fuel
$1M / 1 yr – conclude scientific feasibility
$38M / 4 yrs – for commercial generator
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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