Creating Busssard Fusor fusion reactor for spaceflight
Creating Busssard Fusor fusion reactor for spaceflight
My objective is to set up research apparatus with an Inertial Electrostatic Confinement fusor to investigate its use in spaceflight.
My objective is to set up research apparatus with an Inertial Electrostatic Confinement fusor to investigate its use in spaceflight. Read more
Don't forget to check out my website: http://www.aresinstitute.org/spherelab and you can find all of the documentation and goodies about this project there.
I was first introduced to Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusion over eight years ago. The theory seemed tantalizing to me for its potential in aerospace applications. It's pretty much always been in the back of my head and sometimes in the front working on various small projects. I, like many people out there, have read the papers by Dr. Robert Bussard and watched his talk "Should Google Go Nuclear?" I've decided it's time to take a concept that I worked on with a few other people years ago and see if I can make a go of it.
My focus is on developing fusor technology for space power and propulsion. Combined with solar power and ion propulsion, IEC fusion is, theoretically, ideally-suited to in-space applications. That's a bit different from the ultimate goal of developing the technology into a state advanced enough for terrestrial power production. In some ways it's an easier challenge to work with, but it also has its own unique difficulties.
Fusion is not only a source of nearly limitless clean energy (theoretically), it can be applied to a variety of power and propulsion problems. One example is that a fusor-based device could be used to provide attitude control or other propulsion on a spacecraft. When augmented by solar arrays, the use of a fusor has the potential to reduce the size and mass of solar arrays that need to be built into the spacecraft to achieve a desired power output. The end result is that a spacecraft would be able to travel farther into the Solar System than would be possible on Solar power alone. Again, that's all theoretical since it's never been done before.
Okay, so let me start with a little background on myself and where this project originated. It's actually been a rather long road and proves that sometimes the "unexepected unexpecteds" (to quote former Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale) will present the biggest hurdles.
My first vocation is space exploration. That's why I moved here near Kennedy Space Center. Eventually, I met an executive of a small aerospace contractor who was, at the time, working on a project to set up a plasma/HE lab here with the fusor as the primary research instrument.
In 2002, we proposed the Spacecoast Plasma & High-energy Electrostatics Laboratory, SphereLab. I started a non-profit organization and went through the 6-month long process of getting official recognition by the IRS of its 501 c(3) tax-exempt status.
We were able to attract initial support and researchers from a university and MOU-type backing from an aerospace contractor. Unfortunately, a few months later the space shuttle Columbia accident happened and both backers pulled out. In the following months, he took up another opportunity in Washington, DC. Then, in 2007, one of our Principal Investigators lost his life in a car accident, making things more difficult since he was a sheer genius with 9 advanced degrees and could do math in his head that a dozen desktop computers would shrug their virtual shoulders at.
So, anyway, this year, President Obama proposed puttinbg a lot more money into space-related technology R&D, especially advanced in-space propulsion. Ding ding! Finally, has the time come to revive the idea? I think so.
This project has several important aspects to it. Most important, once the laboratory is complete, it will be available for university students and researchers to use to conduct their own experiments. The goal of the lab is to draw scientists together in the study of IEC fusion, the challenges in achieving positive power production and the many potential applications of IEC fusion.
The lab will start with modest objectives. It will be a state-of-the-art facility, but small and cost-effective for university researchers. I don't have grand visions of solving all of the challenges with fusion, but the lab will conduct valuable research in the field. Once up an running, the research conducted at the lab will bootstrap itself and hopefully lead to more funding, grants and and expansion of the facility and its capabilities in the several years after it opens.
One of my goals is to involve the general public, even if just passively. Vide of the experiments in the lab will be streamed live over the internet, sometimes with interaction (i.e. question and answer) with the researcher. Sometimes experiments will have to be closed to the public, of course. The telescience capability will also be valuable in letting remote researchers participate in experiments.
I'm confident that I can aquire much of the hardware (steel tanks, computers, lathe, diagnostic tools, etc.) through donations. There are a lot of aerospace and technology companies around here who donate surplus equipment to to qualified non-profits. NASA's Kennedy Space Center does the same and that should provide a fantastic source of equipment. It will also be critical in keeping startup costs to a bare minimum.
The bulk of the initial cost will be acquiring office/lab workspace and setting all of that up including purchases of material that I'm unable to find through surplus donations.
- (75 days)