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Rick Nebel comment

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 6:22 am
by DeltaV
Rick Nebel comment on Alan Boyle's article:

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/ ... 37165.aspx

As usual, I seem to have created some misconceptions by my comments. First of all, what we said on our website is that the work on the WB-7 has been completed. We did not discuss the results. If you would like to conjecture what those results are, let me suggest that you notice the fact that we are working on the WB-8 device. The WB-8 was not a part of Dr. Bussard’s original development plan. This device came about as a result of the peer review process which suggested that there were issues that needed to be resolved at a smaller scale before proceeding to a demo. This was a conclusion that EMC2 heartily concurred with. I don’t want to leave people with the impression that everything on the WB-7 is identical to the WB-6.
Secondly, in our contract with the DOD, EMC2 owns the commercialization rights for the Polywell. However, commercialization is not something that we can do with our DOD funding. That is what we would like to look at with any contributions from the website. This will enable us to:
1. Design an attractive commercial reactor package.
2. Identify the high leverage physics items that most impact the design (i.e. how good is good enough).
3. Give us a base design when we are ready to proceed to the next step.

rnebel (Sent Wednesday, March 24, 2010 9:12 PM)

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 11:47 am
by TallDave
Very interesting, thanks for sharing.

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 1:24 pm
by JLawson
Maybe I'm reading more into this than I should - but doesn't the phrase:
"Design an attractive commercial reactor package."

Seem to imply that there's something going on which would justify looking at this as being commercially viable?

I mean, you aren't terribly likely to spend time, effort and money putting something out which CAN'T be commercially viable, are you?

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 1:36 pm
by Robthebob
what do you guys think is the most probably amount of time for WB8 to once and for all confirm or deny if polywell works or not?

I'm just planning for grad school, need to know these things.

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 2:08 pm
by MSimon
Robthebob wrote:what do you guys think is the most probably amount of time for WB8 to once and for all confirm or deny if polywell works or not?

I'm just planning for grad school, need to know these things.


My best guess is 12 to 18 months.

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 2:50 pm
by rcain
... so, a crumb of further encouragement from Rick, equivalent to saying 'we wouldnt be going this extra leg if it wasnt working, now would we'.

well, theres got to be some truth in that somewhere i suppose.

so, my question to Rick would be 'should other research teams be kicking off right NOW? or alternatively, 'what trigger/news should we/they be waiting for? what will be enough to convince others its now worth pursuing'?

i cant see EMC2 (or the USNavy for that matter) taking this through in isolation.

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 3:16 pm
by TallDave
Robthebob wrote:what do you guys think is the most probably amount of time for WB8 to once and for all confirm or deny if polywell works or not?

I'm just planning for grad school, need to know these things.


Depends what you mean by "works" and "confirm."

If there's favorable loss scaling up to .8T (i.e. Bussard's B^.25*r^2 or thereabouts), Rick will probably know this within a few months. But we in the public may not find this out even by inference until late 2011, when the WB-9 contract is awarded. And this doesn't mean we won't run into insurmountable problems with WB-9/D. And even if WB-9 is successful this doesn't mean p-B11 is possible, which has commercial implications,

OTOH, if loss scaling is something considerably uglier like B^2*r^3 there probably won't be a WB-9 contract. In this case we may or may not ever find out for sure what loss scaling looks like, depending on what DOD/EMC2 decides to do with the data.

cant see EMC2 (or the USNavy for that matter) taking this through in isolation.


I don't see why not. This is pretty esoteric stuff even for plasma physics. Favorable WB-8 results will only draw so much attention, because it doesn't sound like papers will be published, data released, or press conferences scheduled. I expect the WB-9 attempt will be greeted with similar skepticism to WB-7/8. If we actually get 100MW from WB-9, things will change, of course.

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 3:26 pm
by chrismb
Robthebob wrote:what do you guys think is the most probably amount of time for WB8 to once and for all confirm or deny if polywell works or not?

200,000 years.

It'll never be proven 'cos it won't work. "The cult of Polywell" will exist until we leave the planet. After that, "we" will then have total faith in whatever provided that energy source for propulsion, and finally the CoP will be discredited as a religion.

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 3:37 pm
by D Tibbets
TallDave wrote:...
OTOH, if loss scaling is something considerably uglier like B^2*r^3 there probably won't be a WB-9 contract. In this case we may or may not ever find out for sure what loss scaling looks like, depending on what DOD/EMC2 decides to do with the data.

Your loss scaling looks ugly already. It would only allow for 2nd power net power scaling. I'm to lazy to look it up, but my recolection is that predicted loss scaling is closer to B ^1/2 * r^2.

Dan Tibbets

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:12 pm
by Betruger
Cult of pedantry

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:12 pm
by KitemanSA
JLawson wrote: I mean, you aren't terribly likely to spend time, effort and money putting something out which CAN'T be commercially viable, are you?
Some would claim that small fission reactors (LWRs) have proven themselves to be commercially un-viable, but the USNavy uses ~100 of them. Viability has many conditions.

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:20 pm
by KitemanSA
Robthebob wrote:what do you guys think is the most probably amount of time for WB8 to once and for all confirm or deny if polywell works or not?
It may not do either of those. It may provide additional nuanced results that require a WB9 (100mW, barely break even) before going to WB-D (100MW demo). If so, it may stretch to 4-5 years.

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:20 pm
by chrismb
Betruger wrote:Cult of pedantry
Do you wish to join?

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:22 pm
by rcain
TallDave wrote:...If there's favorable loss scaling up to .8T (i.e. Bussard's B^.25*r^2 or thereabouts), Rick will probably know this within a few months. But we in the public may not find this out even by inference until late 2011...OTOH, if loss scaling is something considerably uglier like B^2*r^3 .... we may or may not ever find out for sure what loss scaling looks like...


... that is sort of my point really; that is, if Rick is (we guess) but a few months away from that point, and all the indications are that
RN wrote:'... there are no show stoppers...
, then surely a determined research team could catch up to this point in a few months more - and 'those results' could be with us in the public domain (at long last), and the whole field could gain momentum.

TallDave wrote:
rcain wrote: cant see EMC2 (or the USNavy for that matter) taking this through in isolation.


I don't see why not. This is pretty esoteric stuff even for plasma physics. Favorable WB-8 results will only draw so much attention, because it doesn't sound like papers will be published, data released, or press conferences scheduled. I expect the WB-9 attempt will be greeted with similar skepticism to WB-7/8. If we actually get 100MW from WB-9, things will change, of course.


yep, that is my fear also, but i dont see it needs be 'necessarily' the case.
esoteric it may be, but difficult or expensive it does not appear to be, relatively speaking (cf. eg. ITER, LHC, other 'BIG' science).

its not as if EMC2 have any 'secret' golden bullet; all the principles are already in the public domain, have been for years, and accessible to anyone who wants to try them out.

so sure, any sudden news like 'a working 100MW machine' would be epoch making and we'll all know about it. that is obvious. but it doesnt seem thats the way things happen in reality.

in reality, there's gradual progress, sporadic breakthroughs, verification of results (whether good or 'nuanced'), refinements of technique, development of engineering technology, then finaly, first generation commercialisation, and onwards. to my mind this is going to remain in the research and development phase for many years, even if everything looks rosey.

by contrast, even positive hints (or leaks?) concerning progress towards break-even, scaling or even simple confinement, could be enough to trigger other serious researchers towards a potential scientific revolution.

its 'that' event i'm looking for, and i'm asking, if you were a research director, head of government, ceo, whoever, what new information is it going to take to anticipate (and motivate) such a consensus? not much i am thinking, so long as it comes from multiple confirmed sources.

ps. @chrismb - historically, '50 years' or 'within our lifetime' is enough to ensure it never comes to pass.

Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:23 pm
by dnavas
Is his comment in response to cristian perte and Alan's dialog:
if the WB8 is meant to test scaling laws, does that not mean that the WB7 was definitely a success? Why even attempt testing scaling laws if the device is a failure? :)

[ALAN ADDS: I agree with your analysis... Every indication is that WB-7 validated what was expected. And if we accept Rick Nebel's "No B.S." rule, then the results must be encouraging.]

?

If so, it seems that the point he's making is that WB-7 did NOT validate everything that needed to be validated. In particular, if you are then going about testing scaling laws, the thing least likely to have been validated would seem to involve scaling, no? Assuming they plotted a graph across different B values ... maybe sections of the graph didn't quite hit where they needed to? If there were multiple regions that missed, I would suspect transients, and I would think the push would be for a closer-to steady-state run. If there was a significant hit on the high end , I wouldn't expect WB-8 to be funded. That leaves a minor hit on the high end (where stability of the smaller machine is suspect) and major hits on the low end (where other aspects of the machine's physics may rule).

Other thoughts?