Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wiffle Ball Progress

— a test plasma inside WB7 —

WHEREVER HE IS, Hyman Rickover must be pleased. Admiral Rickover, U.S.N., is regarded as the "Father of the Nuclear Navy", which as of July 2007 had produced 200 nuclear-powered submarines, and 23 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and cruisers, though many of these U.S. vessels are now decommissioned and others under construction. With his leadership, the USN developed reliable and safe nuclear propulsion for water-craft — especially compared to Russian efforts.

Well, the tradition for innovation appears to continue. The USN has been quietly funding the Energy Matter Conversion Corporation, aka EMC2, which was started by the inventor of the Wiffle Ball or Polywell fusion process, the late Dr. Robert Bussard.

Why should you care?

Well, CO2 production concerns means that like it or not, fission reactors are going to pop up around the world like never before, and they are going to produce thousands of tons of highly radioactive spent fuel.

Scientists have been chasing the holy grail of fusion power for around 50 years, without much success. Currently, Big Science, Big Government is backing a derivative of the Russian Tokamak technology, called ITER. It is the epitome of the "We Need a Bigger Hammer" approach that is the essence of big-budget physics, like CERN.

The Polywell approach is at the other end of the fusion rainbow, for energy requirements. It also offers an inherently easier way of getting usable power out of the fusion reaction, produces way less dangerous radiation — and it seems to work, which is why the USN has signed on for Version 8 of the Polywell design.

It appears that other techies are getting behind the concept. Check out, which is a discussion forum for Polywell fusion. There are sections on history, theory and design. Also, check out IEC Fusion Technology blog-site that also follows Polywell developments.

Why should you care (2)?

IMHO, fission reactors are a dead-end, and the ITER fusion approach is a dead-end. Canada needs clean electrical power. Compared to what AECL has spent on CANDU, we could bring the Wiffle Ball to Canada for a fraction of the cost. You may not like technology, you may not like nuclear power, but all those electric vehicles in our bright shiny happy future have to get their power from somewhere — and that's just one area of demand for electricity. Polywell devices could also allow the use of hydro rights-of-way for other uses, as a lot of power transmission lines just won't be needed.

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