The Promise of Controlled Nuclear Fusion, Part 20

On the occasion of this milestone 20th report in the series and on the eve of what promises to be a very interesting new year in energy R&D, it is appropriate to present an overview of some of the key projects and researchers who are working in the related areas. What follows is a series of snapshots, as of late 2016, of the work likely to develop significantly in 2017, starting with the progress reported by the satellite and main ICCF20 conferences that I noted last time.

The ICCF20 Conferences

An informed commentary on these was provided by French LENR researcher Jean Paul Biberian (that we introduced in Part 14). From this, we can see that at least some of the pre-conference promise I anticipated in part 19, was fulfilled, albeit in more nuanced and qualified ways.

The Wendelstein 7-X Stellerator

We first noted this new approach in part 17 of this series. Like the ITER, it is a torus-based device but the researchers have used computer modeling to design a complicated, twisted set of windings around the torus which seek to eliminate the fundamental limitation of the ITER – that, with conventional windings, the magnetic field is stronger around the inner radius than the outer. Researchers have recently reported that detailed measurements of the field actually produced by a proof-of-concept prototype, do, in fact, confirm the computer predictions to a high degree of accuracy. An actual net energy-producing Stellerator is still in the future but this milestone is clearly cause for optimism and continuing funding. More details are here, here and here.

The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST)

This is also a torus-based device, based originally on a Russian design but substantially refined and developed by the Chinese to the extent that it was recently able to sustain a temperature of 50 million degrees Kelvin for 102 seconds! Unlike the very complicated German device above, the EAST uses more conventional ways of stabilizing the plasma, including the deployment of superconducting Niobium-Titanium poloidal field magnets, a non-inductive current drive and a feed-back system for the real-time control of plasma instabilities.

In the field of LENR or Cold Fusion, there are the usual suspects:

Andrea Rossi

The inventor the E-Cat is still fighting battles on two fronts – one legal; the other technical. On the legal front, his case against Industrial Heat and others is progressing in much the same way as trench warfare did, 100 years ago. On the technical front, Rossi reports making good progress with his latest model of the E-Cat, the Quark-X – perhaps too good altogether, in view of reported overheating problems.

Martin Fleischmann Memorial Project

Here, Bob Greenyer is continuing to conduct, supervise or promote a very interesting range of projects, including the previously mentioned cooperative effort with Aarhus University. A much more speculative project he is organizing is that of replicating on live video an experiment first conducted by Ukranian scientist Vladimir Vysotskii, who has found that biological transmutations are able to take place with the help of bacteria. Vysotskii reports that certain bacteria, when exposed to an unstable element — Cesium 137 (which is well known to decay over 30.17 years) — were able to speed up the normal decay rate by 30 times, and decay in 310 days and create Barium 137, a stable element! Bob speculates that the bacteria may be able to “push” or quantum-tunnel a proton into the element and thus speed up the change. He is therefore proposing to conduct a live experiment to show the whole internet this phenomenon occurring in real time!

Alexander Parkhomov

Russian researcher Alexander Parkhomov, whom we first cited in Part 12, continues to work on trying to replicate Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat. He has certainly succeeded in producing transmutations, which remain the most reliable evidence of LENR.

Brilliant Light Power

Last but not least, if we are take his reports and demonstrations at face value, the 2017 limitless energy scene might well entirely belong to Dr Randell Mills, MD, whom we first mentioned in Part 8, nearly three years ago. Recently, he re-appeared on “radar screens” by way of a lecture delivered in my own country (New Zealand) by Professor Huub Bakker, a senior lecturer in engineering at Massey University. To Mills’ more devoted followers, whose numbers include serious investors, he has never been far off said radar screens since he first appeared in 1990 but, to the more skeptical, he has yet to justify his claims.

These claims are, to put it mildly, very radical and extensive, starting with his contention that most of the “laws” of modern Physics, notably including Quantum Theory, need to be extensively re-written! To help convince yourself of this you could download PDF copies of all Mills et al’s theoretical papers, starting with a concise overview here. Following on from all this, Mills further contends, is that the Hydrogen atom can sustain energy states with fractional quantum numbers and that, by being induced to drop to any of these lower energy levels (by a very specific process), it will thus release large amounts of energy and leave itself in a state equivalent to that of the Dark Matter that most mainstream physicists (though not all) accept as probably comprising about 27% of all matter. Strictly speaking, this energy source would have a chemical, rather than a nuclear basis but it would be large enough to count as a competing technology to LENR and hot fusion.

In any event, Mills has recently demonstrated the latest version of his device, the “SunCell”, which generates large amounts of mostly UV light which can then be converted directly into electricity, although this latter step is still a work-in-progress. Given success with that, he anticipates marketing commercial versions of the SunCell in as little as 12 months.

Donald Trump

Finally, we are entitled to ask ourselves what impact Donald Trump’s impending presidency might have on clean energy research in 2017 and beyond. For a start, he promised to keep at least some coal mines open, so that commitment might appear to be limiting at first sight. However, he could front-foot the issue and promote the use of clean coal technology as, at least, an interim measure.

Chances are that Mr Trump has not yet heard of LENR or, at least, not in a positive context but he is undoubtedly aware of hot fusion research expenditure in the US and worldwide. It would therefore neither surprise nor disappoint me if he were to discontinue America’s contribution to ITER on the grounds that this now very dated version of hot fusion is, as I have long contended, little more than a boondoggle. On the other hand, Mr Trump might see the newer US-based startups in hot fusion, such as Tri Alpha, as representing a good way to put America back into the lead in this field.

Summary

Thus, to conclude this 20th report, it should be clear, from any or all of the above perspectives, that 2017 should be a very full and interesting year for all things clean energy. Perhaps so much so, that the mainstream media might finally go into top gear in order to cover it all and thus enable me to cover the many other topics I planned to cover when I started Think Tank Report over 5 years ago!

P W Power
December 2016

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