January 27, 2010
New IEC Fusion Research Group Opens
Space Ports reports the opening of an IEC Fusion Research facility to develop fusion for spacecraft propulsion.
AVRC has been awarded a contract by Wise County's Industrial Development Authority to manage a $7 million energy research center now under construction in the Lonesome Pine Business and Technology Park [PDF] in Wise, VA focused on the development of inertial electrostatic confinement aneutronic fusion energy at the Appalachia America Energy Research Center along with other projects in a significant energy technology portfilio.That is interesting.
The Intertial Electrostatice Confinement (IEC) Fusion Propulsion technology being promoted by AVRC was developed by Dr. George Miley.I wonder how they plan to fuse hydrogen which is very difficult to fuse because it requires converting a proton into a neutron to make the reaction work. Or maybe they just plan to use hydrogen gathered in space as reaction mass and plan to fuse something else. Sort of like a modified Bussard Ramjet.
This paper [pdf} indicates that they are planning to use the IEC design as just a thruster to start with.
A novel plasma jet thruster, based on Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) technology, is proposed for ultra maneuverable - space thruster for satellite and small probe thrust operations. The IEC Jet design potential offers an unique capability to cover a wide range of powers (few Watts to Kilowatts) with good efficiency while providing a plasma jet that can start with a large diameter but be narrowed directionally to focus on targets The IEC thruster uses a spherical configuration, wherein ions are generated and accelerated towards the center of a spherical vacuum chamber A virtual cathode forms in the high-density central core region, combined with a locally distorted cathode grid potential field, extracts accelerated ions into an intense quasi-neutral ion jet. Thus, the IEC thruster is roughly analogous to a planar electrostatic ion thruster "folded" into spherical form. Estimates suggest that its electrical efficiency would match conventional plasma thrusters, while offering advantages in design simplicity, reduced erosion giving long life time, reduced propellant leakage losses, and high power-to-weight ratio. Heat rejection is eased due to large heated surface areas making the unit especially well suited to high power operation.That might work. And if it does fusion could come later.
Kind of like the progression in piston pump technology. First you build pumps. Very handy. Then you apply steam and pumps become a power source. Then you figure out how to burn the fuel inside the cylinder and you get an internal combustion engine. Let's hope we can compress the development cycle from hundreds of years to a couple of decades.
For near term fusion power on Earth I like Polywell Fusion. You can learn the basics of fusion energy by reading Principles of Fusion Energy: An Introduction to Fusion Energy for Students of Science and Engineering
Polywell is a little more complicated. You can learn more about Polywell and its potential at: Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained
The American Thinker has a good article up with the basics.
And the best part? We Will Know In Two Years
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon on 01.27.10 at 03:36 PM
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