Kickstarter Podcast #4: Building the Open Source Bussard Fusion Reactor
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The latest Kickstarter podcast (subscribe on iTunes or listen online) features a conversation with Famulus, a hacker-turned-inventor who is attempting to create an open source fusion reactor using Kickstarter. The project is currently $700 short of its $3,000 goal with five days to go.
Famulus’ project took an odd twist last week when he posted a project update called “Close Encounter With an Investor.” The fascinating post carefully details his conversations and email exchanges with a Dutch energy investor who was interested in bringing serious funding to Famulus’ research. At one point the investor asked him how much money he needed to really bring the project to fruition. Famulus replied:
“Full realization of a break-even reactor will require $200M+. Full commercialization will require another ~$200M. Successful development and commercialization will lead to net income on the order of $100B/year.
Year 1: Tackle small-scale research. Year 2: Build a sub-break-even superconducting reactor running p-11B continuously with a single cell of direct energy conversion. $11M
Year 3: Build-out of break-even reactor. $100M
Year 4: Build-out and operation of break-even reactor. $100M
Year 5: Begin commercialization. $200M
Year 6: IPO”
A $412 million project — a Kickstarter first!
In the end the investor declined, and Famulus’ experiments are on hold until the Kickstarter project ends. (He needs to buy a couple hundred dollars’ worth of parts.)
Our conversation was awesome. It was hard not to be impressed by his smarts, knowledge, and passion. And he said that Kickstarter played a huge role in this quest. As he remarked, “Kickstarter allowed me the avenue to say ‘I need money’ in an appropriate way.”