LPPFusion’s started new experiments August 4th and successfully fired a new FF-2B experimental fusion device. It has 16 new switches and newly-redesigned anode. They are adjusting and optimizing the new switches, but have already demonstrated a 6-fold decrease in erosion from the anode and an 8% increase in peak electrical current.
Once the switches were arc-proofed, they started firing the whole device on August 4. Each “shot” consists of charging a bank of energy-storing capacitors to 40 kV and then “firing” them in a microsecond-long surge of million-amp current. These initial set of shots are aimed at optimizing the performance of the new switches and getting them to fire synchronously and with minimum oscillations in current. They immediately noticed a major
improvement over our first shots in 2019 with the first beryllium anode: greatly reduced erosion. Back in 2019, a thin oxide layer had vaporized, covering our electrodes with dark dust that interfered with functioning and took many shots to burn off. For this upgrade, they hand-polished the anode – their central electrode – to remove the thin layer of oxides on the beryllium. The polishing worked well: after the first few shots, the anode remained mirror-bright.
By August 13, they had achieved their first fusion shot – one with high enough temperature to produce fusion reactions. They took a good image of the pinch region on film.The image shows the relatively large (1 mm radius) plasmoid formed by the poorly-coordinated filaments. As they get better performance, they expect that plasmoid size will shrink dramatically.
As they adjusted the switches, they will be able to increase the peak current from an 8% improvement up to an expected 20% gain versus 2019 tests.
Completing the adjustment of the switches will allow us to start increasing fusion yield.
Current roadmap and goals:
Progress is slow from the old list of goals:
Scientific energy scaling plan:
Phase 1: Research to Achieve Net Energy Production in a Laboratory Device
LPP Fusion task is to move fusion yield up from the one quarter of a joule (J) they have already achieved to the 30,000 J. They need to get more energy out of the device that they put into it. Here is the plan.
First, they are talking about a very small amount of energy in total. Our goal of 30 kJ (30,000J) per shot is less than the energy you get from eating 3 pistachios.
Second, they are a lot closer than any other private fusion effort. TAE, our closest rival, has to increase their yield a thousand times more than we do.
Third, the process gives them a lot of leverage to convert small gains in compression to large gains in yield. The device produces a tiny ball of ultra-hot plasma called a “plasmoid”. We have already gotten this plasmoid to the more than 2 BILLION degrees temperature they need. But they have to make it denser. Fortunately for every factor of two they improve the compression, and thus decrease the plasmoid radius, they get a factor of four increase in density. For every factor of four increase in density, they get a factor of 16 increase in fusion yield. In mathematical terms, yield goes up as the compression ratio to the fourth power.
To get better compression, they first have to achieve a high degree of symmetry, so that the filaments of current in the machine arrive together at the same point at the same time, so that they will twist up tightly into the plasmoid. The better the symmetry, the smaller the plasmoid, the more the density. They need to make sure the electrodes are clean of any metal specks and they have to get rid of any remaining oscillations in the current. They need to optimize the amount of gas, the mixture of gases and the magnetic field that gives our plasma an initial small twist. Each of these steps will only improve the compression by 15-20%, but together they will more than double the compression—shrinking the plasmoid by a factor of a bit more than 2, increasing yield by about a factor of 25 to 10J. These are the steps they are working on right now.
Next, we are now, in early 2021, installing new switches that are twice as small and twice as numerous as our present switches. This will allow us to initially increase the electric current in our device by about 40%. We get leverage with that as well, increasing yield by a factor of 4 to 40 J.
We will then turn on the full power of our capacitor bank, going up from eight capacitors to twelve and from 40 kV to 45 kV. That will increase our current and compression by more than 60% and our yield by 8 to about 300 J.
Then they will take the biggest step—changing the fuel in our vacuum chamber from deuterium to our final fuel—pB11, hydrogen-boron. They will start mixing in a bit, but they hope by around the end of 2021 to be running with pure B11. Once they have optimized it, they expect to get a four-fold boost in yield because this fuel burns twice as fast as deuterium; a 3-fold boost in yield because each reaction produces three times more energy than deuterium. In addition, they’ll get 40% better compression, giving another 4 -fold boost in yield. Finally, they confinement time will increase 4-fold because much of the fusion energy they produce will be initially recycled back into the magnetic field that holds the plasmoid together. That gives another 4-fold boost in yield. So, switching from deuterium to pB11 will altogether give us 2x3x4x4 or nearly 100 times the yield. This will therefore bring us all the way up to the 30 kJ we need.
a 3-fold increase in compression will give us a 75-fold increase in yield
a 2-fold increase in current will give us a 16-fold increase in yield
switching to pB11 fuel will give us a 100-fold increase in yield
¼ Jx75x16x100 = 30 kJ. This is how we can make a huge jump—in not too many steps.
Phase 2: Developing a Working Prototype Generator Ready for Manufacture
In Phase 2, we will develop the Focus Fusion device as a repetitively pulsed generator, pulsing up to a few hundred times a second, develop the conversion devices to convert the ion beams and X-rays to electricity, and perfect the cooling system and general electrical control system. We will also optimize the fusion energy generation efficiency. At the end of Phase 2, which we estimate will take another 3 – 4 years, we plan to have the world’s first functioning fusion generator producing 5 MW of net electricity. It will be ready for mass-production. We estimate the budget for this phase to be about $100 million, to be raised from a combination of government and private sources.
The LPP Fusion business development plan is in three phases:
Phase I: Scientific Research to Demonstrate Net Energy
The goal of phase I is to demonstrate in a laboratory more energy out of the device than we put into it. This would be a tremendous breakthrough and would solve the scientific challenge of fusion energy production. This is the phase we are now in. While time estimates are extremely uncertain, we hope to complete this phase in about 12 months and with an additional $1 million in expenditures.
Phase II: Engineering and Development of Working Prototype Generator
In Phase II, they will develop the Focus Fusion device as a repetitively pulsed generator, pulsing up to a few hundred times a second, develop the conversion devices to convert the ion beams and X- rays to electricity, and perfect the cooling system and general electrical control system. they will also optimize the fusion energy generation efficiency. At the end of Phase II, which LPP estimates will take another 3 – 4 years, they plan to have the world’s first functioning fusion generator producing net electricity. It will be ready for mass-production. They estimate the budget for this phase to be about $100 million, to be raised from a combination of government and private sources.
They intend to obtain an industrial partner to develop our X-scan spin-off technology, which they expect will provide some royalty income during this phase.
Phase III: Commercialization
They believe that the fastest and lowest-risk method of generating income from the fusion generator is through selling non-exclusive licenses on the technology. LPP will be protecting its intellectual property rights with a series of patents. Likely initial licenses agreements will be with large international companies already in the power generation sector and with large governmental energy organizations. The up-front money from the sale of such licenses will generate a relatively large income stream initially that will be supplemented when royalties being to flow after actual production is begun.They also intend to initiate their own production facilities in order to have the manufacturing expertise needed to aid licensees.
Early in Phase III when thye have reached profitability, they will organize an IPO to become a public company.
SOURCES – LPP Fusion
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
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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