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Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I was sent two bits of information by colleagues, one dealing with an award, and another, a plea for fusion.  Let me start with the First Deep Ocean Water Applications Society Prize bestowed on Yasuyuki Ikegami of Saga University in Hualien, Taiwan by DOWAS President Masayuki Takahashi, formerly from Tokyo and Kochi Universities.  As the two photos sent to me could not be inserted here, let me replace a photo of the three of us when we recently met in Kailua-Kona:

That's Professor Ikegami in the middle.

Chuck Helsley (left), President of Fusion Power Corporation, sent me a paper he and Bob Burke, Chief Technology Officer and Board Chairman of FPC, recently published entitled, Economic Viability of Large-scale Fusion Systems.  Bob and I actually worked at Lawrence Livermore at the same time under Edward Teller on inertial confinement fusion, although we didn't know each other then.  For some reason (Chuck wrote me why), I could not virtually link their paper, so here is the abstract, which apparently is okay to show:

Economic Viability of Large-scale Fusion Systems

Charles E. Helsley and Robert J. Burke Fusion Power Corporation

8880 Cal Center Dr., Ste 400 Sacramento, California, 95826, USA Tel: 1 916 438-6910


A typical modern power generation facility has a capacity of about 1 Gigawatt electric (GWe) per unit. This works well for fossil fuel plants and for most fission facilities for it is large enough to support the sophisticated generation infrastructure but still small enough to be accommodated by most utility grid systems. The size of potential fusion power systems may demand a different viewpoint. The compression and heating of the fusion fuel for ignition requires a large driver, even if it is necessary for only a few microseconds or nanoseconds per energy pulse. The economics of large systems, that can effectively use more of the driver capacity, need to be examined.

The assumptions used in this model are specific for the Fusion Power Corporation (FPC) SPRFD process but could be generalized for any system. We assume that the accelerator is the most expensive element of the facility and estimate its cost to be $20 Billion. Ignition chambers and fuel handling facilities are projected to cost $1.5 Billion each with up to 10 to be serviced by one accelerator. At first this seems expensive but that impression has to be tempered by the energy output that is equal to 35 conventional nuclear plants. This means the cost per kWh is actually low. Using the above assumptions and industry data for generators and heat exchange systems, we conclude that a fully utilized fusion system will produce marketable energy at roughly one half the cost of our current means of generating an equivalent amount of energy from conventional fossil fuel and/or fission systems. Even fractionally utilized systems – i.e. systems used at 25 percent of capacity, can be cost effective in many cases. In conclusion, SPRFD systems can be scaled to a size and configuration that can be economically viable and very competitive in today's energy market.

Electricity will be a significant element in the product mix but synthetic fuels and water may also need to be incorporated to make the large system economically viable. Co-location of large energy consumers such as metal or chemical refiners and/or processors also needs to be considered.

Key words: Economics, fusion, synthetic fuel, energy cost, CO2 utilization 

Their chamber features a hat trick:

Note that not only electricity, but synfuels and water are also potential marketable products.

I still think the direct methanol fuel cell is the way to go for ground transport.

Note that Fusion Power Corporation is touting profitability--FUSION IN OUR TIME--not a 100-year plan.  If you want to read the paper, invest in this effort or desire additional details, please contact Chuck at the e-mail address above.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up to 16,120 today, but settled only up +0.26 at 16,073, breaking, yes, the all-time average.

Tropical Cyclone Lehar is now at 85 MPH, will further strengthen, and slam into India Wednesday night:


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