New Fusion Reactor

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New Fusion Reactor

Unread post by Marioantonio » Wed Sep 28, 2022 5:15 pm

I’ve seen this video about a Fusion Reactor:

What does everyone here think?

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Re: New Fusion Reactor

Unread post by BeAChooser » Wed Sep 28, 2022 6:54 pm

Please repost the video (it's a good one) to my "Speaking of Wasting Money" thread in the Future of Science section of the forum. I've been talking about various fusion efforts. I think most, including ITER, are ill advised, bogus wastes of money, but I do think Helion has some promise as I discussed here ... ... t=45#p7409

If I'm skeptical, it's because of the company's history. Their approach is at least in line with the known physics of plasma cosmology.

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nick c
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Re: New Fusion Reactor

Unread post by nick c » Wed Sep 28, 2022 11:24 pm

Personally, I have no position on Helion Energy or the prospect of some group achieving low cost energy through fusion reactors, or similar. Maybe some day this will be world's main source of energy....maybe not....I don't know.

For what it is worth, here is a criticism by a plasma physicist, who refers to Helion Energy among other companies, and believes their approach will not work.

from the "Forum onr Physics and Society", click on the article "Voodoo Fusion Energy", Daniel L. Jassby ... april-2019
Numerous fusion “startups” promise a practical fusion reactor delivering net electric power in 5 to 10 years, but almost all have apparently never produced a single D-D fusion reaction. The currently most notorious (in alphabetical order) are General Fu-sion [3], Helion Energy [4], Lockheed-Martin Compact Fusion [5], and Tri-Alpha Energy [6], all of which have made that promise for the last 5 to 15 years.


Helion Energy
“The Helion Fusion Engine will enable profitable fusion energy in 2019,” from NBF 7/18/2014.
“If our physics holds, we hope to reach that goal (net energy gain) in the next three years,” D. Kirtley, CEO of Helion, told The Wall Street Journal in 2014.
“Helion will demonstrate net energy gain within 24 months, and 50-MWe pilot plant by 2019,” from NBF 8/18/2015.
“Helion will attain net energy output within a couple of years and commercial power in 6 years,” Science News 1/27/2016.
“Helion plans to reach breakeven energy generation in less than three years, nearly ten times faster than ITER,” from NBF 10/1/2018.

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Re: New Fusion Reactor

Unread post by BeAChooser » Thu Sep 29, 2022 1:24 am

Daniel Jassby and I are of like mind in most ways with regards to current fusion efforts. He recently wrote ( ... ion-energy) that “practical fusion-based electric power remains a distant prospect. It is likely unachievable anytime in the next half a century.” However, when he dismissed “alternative” approaches, in the case of Helion, he didn’t specifically mention Helion or LPPFusion. His concern about Helion is what I said earlier … they promised the moon and didn’t deliver. In the article you linked, nick c, he complains that as of the end of 2019, Helion hadn’t produced a single fusion neutron. But I’m not sure that’s true. They published a peer reviewed paper in 2011 that stated D-D neutron production occurred ( ... 1/5/053008 ). In any case, I’m looking beyond that at the actual physics and approach. Helion's approach at least seems more feasible than the other approaches.

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Re: New Fusion Reactor

Unread post by jackokie » Thu Sep 29, 2022 3:41 am

@BeAChooser That Electric Future video is indeed good. Having done a fair bit of project management of software development, I learned early on that "I haven't the foggiest" is not an acceptable response when asked for an estimated timeline, even when one knows there are too many unknown unknowns for a dependable projection.

People rag on Elon Musk for his optimistic estimates, but SpaceX just successfully landed a Falcon 9 booster for, I think, the one hundred and forty-seventh time. Helion is currently pursuing Deuterium + He3 -> He4 fusion, which is aneutronic, so the dig about "not a single neutron", and the earlier report of D-D neutron production, imply that Helion changed direction; similar, perhaps, to SpaceX abandoning composites for stainless steel for Starship. Also like Musk, and as mentioned in the video, Helion is keeping manufacturing in sight from the beginning. Based on what I've learned about plasma from hanging around here, David Kirtley is probably right when he says Helion is basically tackling an engineering problem.

We take R&D for granted these days and tend to forget what a series of step-wise refinements can add up to (sort of like compound interest). The history of aviation has a number of examples, one of which is the improvement in engines between the two world wars. The V-12 Liberty engine that powered the De Haviland DH-4 in 1918, itself using design features from Mercedes and BMW six-cylinder engines, produced 400hp and weighed 844 lbs. Twentytwo years later the Pratt & Whitney R-2800, one of the best aircraft piston engines ever made, produced 2,500hp for a weight of 2,360 lbs. Designed to be easy to manufacture, It powered a host of fighters, bombers, and transport aircraft during and after WW2; over 125,000 were made. So I wouldn't count Helion out.
Time is what prevents everything from happening all at once.

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Re: New Fusion Reactor

Unread post by BeAChooser » Fri Sep 30, 2022 2:59 am

jackokie wrote:
Thu Sep 29, 2022 3:41 am
David Kirtley is probably right when he says Helion is basically tackling an engineering problem.
That's a good point and another reason why I like the Helion approach, being an engineer myself. I also like that they aren't trying to fight instabilities ... which in a very real senses is why the mainstream efforts have been stuck for over 40 years.

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