There are many fusion approaches out there. If they are to work, the general public, policy makers and educators must understand them.
Here is a rough list of fusion approaches:
Magnetic Confinement Fusion (MCF):
2. Spherical Tokamaks
4. Levitated Dipole Experiment (LDX)
5. Magnetic mirrors
6. Cusped Geometries
7. Reversed field pinch
8. Field-reversed configuration
Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF):
9. Direct drive ICF
10. Fast ignition ICF
11. Indirect ICF
12. Heavy Ion Beams ICF
Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC):
17. Penning Traps
19. Magnetized target fusion (Field Reverse Configuration and ICF)
20. Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion (Theta Pinch and ICF)
21. Magneto-inertial fusion (Short Lived Magnetic Fields and ICF)
22. Polywell (Cusped Geometries and IEC)
24. Screw Pinch (Theta Pinch and Z Pinch)
In terms of fusion power, some of these ideas are not going to work. One problem is that fusion as a whole, is that it has also been subject to wild claims. Since we do not know what a fusion power plant looks like, people have often claimed that they have had the solution, here are some examples:
A. Uncontrolled Fusion
B. Migma Machines
C. The Hemual Project
D. Bubble fusion/Sonofusion
E. Cold fusion/LENR
F. Muon-catalyzed fusion
G. Pyroelectric fusion
H. Ball Lighting
I. Cross Fire Fusion
Right now, the bulk of funding and support goes to tokamaks and ICF. We need to broaden this list. Public education is the key to doing that.
Category of the action
Reducing emissions from electric power sector.
What actions do you propose?
We proposed this plan last year and MIT judges shot it down. They could not see the importance of this plan. We personally do not care if MIT ignores this plan again - because we are taking action irregardless. However, being in the COLAB contest has served as a great way to get followers and add folks to the group.
In the year since, we have built a larger, more diverse team of fusion supporters. This has happened due to weekly conversations with people who are interested in fusion technology. It is certainly diffuse; relying mostly on social media. We hold Google+ chat meetings, exchange emails and attempt to coordinate our actions. However, despite this lose group the network has delivered some real changes:
1. Revamping of the Fusion Energy League website, with more content on the PLX at LANL.
2. Several online web articles on the state of amateur fusion.
3. Collecting and combining a master picture list of spherical tokamaks.
4. An improvement on several dozen Wikipedia articles on fusion.
5. The funding of several small fusor projects.
6. A submission to NPR Radio Lab for a fusion show.
7. An Open Letter To Congressman Alan Grayson about the state of US fusion funding and support.
Last year, this COLAB contest became a lightening rod. I felt like we got a larger organization when we had a set goal in front of us: mainly winning this contest. I was hoping MIT could do us that favor again
Who will take these actions?
The Fusion Energy League has been very supportive. We have a few different members:
1. Ex Livermore people who keep an interest in the field.
2. Young principal investigators who want to see fusion work
3. People who are excited about the prospect of cheap, clean, abundant green energy
4. Single approach supporters: there are allot of these folks. People who only care about their idea getting funded. Sometimes they work for small groups, or in universities or represent single startups with fusion concepts.
5. Fusor builders. There are larger and larger groups of people who are building these fusors
Where will these actions be taken?
Wikipedia is a good place to start. That is why, I have called for the formation of a fusion power task force. This means starting from a "virtual organization" and moving towards a "brick and mortar" organization. I cannot imagine we will have enough cash on hand to supplant anyone's full time job, or rent a building. Moreover, the kinds of people we want to work with are probably already engaged in a full-time job. A flat organization would use the tools of the internet to get things started. Here are some examples:
1. Skype, Google hang-outs or Go-To-Meeting conversations.
2. Semi-annual meetings in person. Possibly to showcase work.
3. Freelance, outsource or crowd source work like website and content production.
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
Fusion could ultimately change the way energy is produced around the world.
But that is a very far off dream. For that to happen we need to collect, organize and understand all the fusion research which has happened to date. This is a large task. It must be undertaken in the public sphere. This is the only way to:
1. Discern which fusion approaches are the best suited for a power plant.
2. Find the garbage approaches
3. Generate the support needed to fund fusion.
What are other key benefits?
Public education is a "force multiplier" for fusion research. It encourages all fusion approaches and facilitates cross pollination between efforts. It also clears up misconceptions and bad information about the effort. This has ripple effects, like helping policy makers make more informed choices with federal dollars. It helps researchers on deciding what topics pursue. It breaks down the walls between people looking for fusion power and the evidence that can help them. It helps educators teach cutting edge fusion to their students.
Fusion is changing anyway, this effort can help. The field is the murkiest its ever been. The failure of the National Ignition Facility to get ignition is a big reason. Meanwhile ITERs' huge appetite for cash has sidelined many programs. Simultaneously, outside groups are fed up - and have advanced their own ideas. All this while an amateur fusion movement has grown. The fusion landscape is changing, public awareness can help.
What are the proposal’s costs?
At this time, I cannot accurately make financial projections like this. It would be easy to put a bunch of items up on this page and assign dollar values to it. I think this effort needs to grow more organically.
The timeline would depend on the public’s interest
If this were started today, I think it would take about two months to do the website and about six months to grow the community. I would not expect to be in a position to hire an advisory board, or have early meetings with any major players for at least one year. I would expect hiring undergraduate interns for a summer program would be in the second year.
This was the proposal we submitted last year. This had a large group of supporters and we invested tens of hours on it. I still cannot believe the judges shot it down...
There are a variety of good references in fusion research. Discussing them is a good way to illustrate how big this problem is. Here is a quick sketch of relevant work, by topic:
1. Cusp confinement: The work of Dr. Michael Haines, Dr. Thomas Dolans, Dr. Harold Grad and Howard Berkowitz cover plasma behavior inside cusps. This also includes diamagnetic plasma and why this line of research was abandoned. Little of this work is searchable on Google beyond the original publications. This work needs to be compared against Dr. Park's experimental evidence of plasma trapping inside polywells.
2. Plasma instabilities were covered by Dr. Marshall Rosenbluth. This work has moved from the published literature into graduate school and undergrad courses. This work has mostly not been converted into YouTube films or searchable, easy-to-follow material.
3. Basic plasma theory was done by Dr. Lyman J Spitzer. His work is an extension of the ideal gas laws for fully ionized plasma. This basic theory has been extended and extended since the 1960's into increasingly theoretical situations. These situations may not reflect reality.
4. ICF and ignition physics were done by Dr. John Lindl and Dr. Riccardo Betti. This work is also highly theoretical and the bulk of it was done with simulations before NIF was in operation. Much of this needs to be re-evaluated and re-examined, especially now that NIF has failed to get ignition.
5. Magnetic mirror work was done by Dr. Ken Fowler and Dr. Richard Post. Much of this theory and the results from the magnetic mirror program are not on YouTube or Google. Lots of good information is there but it has been mostly ignored over the past 30 years.
6. Field Reverse Configurations have been supported by Dr. Tuszewski,, Dr. Wurden, Dr. Rostoker and Dr. Slough. Dr. Slough has a big body of published work on the topic going back decades.
Aside from this list, there are both good and bad examples of "open efforts" where a real effort is made to educate the larger community on what is going on. Several examples stand out:
1. Jay Kesner and Michael Mauel deserve credit for making all their LDX material available to the web and taking the added step of doing a museum exhibit.
2. Richard Fitzpatrick in Texas, has devoted a lot of time to lay out the mathematics of plasma physics. His site could be improved with pictures, videos and animations.
3. Simon Woodruff did a great paper covering every approach in 2004, but this needs to be updated.
4. Tomas Linden did a great summary talk of many approaches at CERN on March 26th 2015.
5. Irvin Lindemuth wrote a paper summarizing lots of fusion concepts in 2009. But again, this paper is hard to follow.