Keywords: P. T. Farnsworth, Robert Hirsch, fusor, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, proton-boron 11 or p-B11, direct conversion
Polywell fusion describes several related methods of magnetically confining electrons in certain regular geometric forms of electromagnetic traps. The electrons are accelerated in to this trap to form a deep electrodynamic potential well, which in turn accelerates fuel ions across the center of the trap. It is intended as the basis for fusion power reactors. By contrast, both tokamak fusion and approaches such as the National Ignition Facility rely on brute force means of heating fuel to fusion conditions. Polywell approaches are essentially very efficient quasi-spherical ion accelerators, and attempt to make fusion in which the energy spread of the fuel species is sharply defined instead of Maxwellian.
I have written two articles on this subject for Analog Science Fiction and Fact, both of which have won "Analab" awards in the magazine's annual reader poll. Versions of both articles are posted at selected websites, and I'll provide the links below. I'll add a little supporting content here.
Mark Duncan has a website called Askmar.com. He has the best collection of papers and articles on the subject, and has taken the time to "clean up" most of the scans available, including creating new figures. He has some odds and ends of my material as well. AskMar.com/Fusion.html
One of the most active and outspoken proponents of Polywell fusion is a fellow who goes by the name MSimon. He has a couple of blogs, one of which is specifically dedicated to fusion: http://IEC Fusion Technology Blogspot. Simon says, remember to check out the sidebars! (Ton of good links in there.)
The best place to discuss the technical aspects of Polywell fusion, including the most recent news, is Talk-Polywell.org. Participants include Dr. Rick Nebel, one of the physicists presently investigating the Polywell, and Art Carlson, a noted nay-sayer. Most of the participants are enthusiasts, but the intent of the website is to provide an outlet for "open source design," and they want to see this technology succeed. That requires a realistic look at the problems, so people like Art keep us honest.
The first Analog article helped start the "amateur fusion movement." That effort concentrates on machines simpler than the Polywell called Farnsworth Fusors. The underlying principles are similar. The fusor enthusiasts hang out at Fusor.net.
In early 2009 I sat for a video interview with Matt Moynihan. There appear to now be two versions of this interview posted on YouTube, one called "An Interview with Thomas Ligon On the Polywell" (7 parts). and a second called "Extended Interview with Tom Ligon" (8 parts). Since I was given the DVD of the original, I have not reviewed the YouTube postings, which had to be broken up into parts. I believe there are better links on MSimon's page.
Dr. Bussard set up a non-profit to take donations to get the effort back underway while he was without funds for a couple of years, called the EMC2 Fusion Development Corporation. Although they are funded as this is written, donated funds allow them to experiment a little outside the bounds imposed by their funding. Pretty pictures, anyway! EMC2 FDC.
Here's a little writeup from my old website. Electrostatic Fusion
Original Dec 1998 Analog article.
Followup January 2008 Analog article.
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