IEEE Spectrum Covers Alternative Fusion, Including Focus FusionDecember 24, 2014
One of the leading technical journals in the world, IEEE Spectrum, has reported in its December, 2014 print edition on alternative routes to fusion energy. LPPF’s work is mentioned in the first few paragraphs of the story and described briefly as one of five leading fusion alternatives, along with University of Washington’s Dynamak, which is featured, and the efforts of Lockheed-Martin, Helion Corporation, and General Fusion. IEEE Spectrum is read by 430,000 engineers and physicists around the world, so the article gives good visibility to LPPF’s work among the audience with the most interest in it.
Spectrum has been covering alternative fusion for a long time. In July, they featured LPPF’s Indiegogo campaign in an energy blog online. Indeed, back in 1980, Spectrum published an article by Eric Lerner, then a Contributing Editor of Spectrum and now LPPFusion President and Chief Scientist, on fusion, including alternatives like the dense plasma focus. It was during the writing of that that Lerner started the theoretical research that later led to the current focus fusion project.
In the same December, 2014 issue of Spectrum, engineers Ross Koningstein and David Fork discuss some of the obstacles to achieving clean energy in the near future and shed light on the failure of Google’s RE<C initiative to achieve its goal of renewable energy that is cheaper than coal. The authors, who worked on the RE<C project and are still employed by Google, point out that the Google initiative, which ran from 2007-2011, relied on incremental improvements on proven existing technologies, such as wind, solar and geothermal. Instead, what was needed was to invest in “truly disruptive technology”. They gave as an example a fusion technology that could produce electricity directly from high-energy charged particles instead of from converting heat into steam. Of course, only aneutronic fuels, such as the hydrogen-boron fuel that Focus Fusion will use, are capable of such direct conversion.
In 2007 Lerner was invited to speak at a Google Tech Talks session, describing just such a disruptive technology—the one which we are continuing to develop. This talk, posted online, gave extremely important publicity to our project. However, the RE<C project, then just getting started, declined to fund Focus Fusion or indeed any other fusion project. Koningstein and Fork’s article shows the realization that, in retrospect, this was a mistake. Now, the authors say RE<C “didn’t go far enough, and that truly disruptive technologies are what our planet needs.” They urge that 10% of R and D money be devoted to “strange new ideas that have the potential to be truly disruptive.”