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Electrodynamic fusion is not the solution to the helium crisis.
blaisepascal
One of the things to come to my attention recently has been work done over the past 15 years by EMC2 on electrodynamically contained fusors. This is a different approach towards fusion energy than has been pursued by the DoE (Tokamak reactors) for the past 30 years.

I've also been made aware of the fact that we are having a helium shortage globally.

My thought was: since fusion reactors generate helium, perhaps commercially viable fusion plants will help offset the helium shortage.

Then I ran the numbers: A PolyWell fusion plant using the p-B11 reaction that meets the electric generation usage of the world today would make about 1 tonne of helium per year, while consuming about 1 tonne of boron and 100kg of hydrogen. That's assuming 100% efficiency, which is ridiculous. However, assuming only 5% efficiency means that it'll generate only 20t of helium.

That's nowhere near enough to offset the helium shortage.

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Farnsworth fusors (a) don't use a hot plasma, and (b) use an electrostatic, not magnetic or electromagnetic[*], field to accelerate the deuterium ions to fusion energies. So it's surprising that you'd not know of a fusor that didn't use magnetic or electromagnetic fields.

The EMC2 site isn't well designed for saying "here's what we're doing!". Even the link to papers on the bottom isn't very good. The best description I've read of it was in the most recent issue of Analog, in the Alternate View column.

On the EMC2 site, the link to the paper "The Advent of Clean Nuclear Fusion: Super-performance Space Power and Propulsion" probably gets to the meat of what the proposed technology is, as well as what they've done to date experimentally.

[*] electrostatic fields are static, and it takes a moving electric field to generate a magnetic effect. So I wouldn't consider an electrostatic field to be electromagnetic.


ah - thanks for the link. (the main page is atrocious for actually finding anything.) it looks, to my math-impaired-technician's mind, as if they took some of the basic structure of the Farnsworth design and modified it so that magnetic rather than electrostatic fields moved the particles around. this, of course, introduced other design constraints, such as forcing the device into a polyhedral rather than strictly spherical configuration. the output figures are amazing... WHY ISN'T ANYBODY PICKING UP ON THIS???

(oh, and i take it that's Bussard as in "ramjet"?)



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