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Alan Boyle update

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 12:44 am
by choff
Alan Boyle update

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/

It turns out Rick Nebel has simply retired.

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 1:16 am
by Ivy Matt
The update contains a lot more than that, including a number of quotes from Jaeyoung Park. Main points:

* The project is behind. Progress is dictated more by funding than by the original timeline.
* The funding will probably last until the end of the year, but by then EMC2 and the Navy should know whether it's worth going forward to the next step.
* Park hopes WB-8 will be the last small-scale experimental machine. I interpret that to mean that they're hoping to go for a demonstration reactor next, or at least a net power device.
* The Navy wants EMC2 to keep most of its progress confidential until they have an actual product to deliver. I suspect this had a bearing on EMC2's response to the FOIA request.
* The Navy is open to EMC2 profiting commercially from a working reactor, as long as the company remains US-owned and doesn't give up control of the technology.

Many questions remain, no doubt. For instance, the role of hydrogen-boron fuel in EMC2's current plans.

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 1:19 am
by mvanwink5
I thought they did a good job of keeping us hanging. On the other hand, Park did say WB-8 is "like driving a Ferrari." Not having driven one, I would take this to mean it has power to spare and requires precision handling. I would have preferred "get ready for Earth to Mars in a month, here we come."

Back to waiting on Christmas...

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 1:27 am
by Skipjack
Thanks, Choff.
That is some interesting news indeed. Though things are still as vague as always. Well, I guess we will have to wait until the end of the year then.

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 1:44 am
by Ivy Matt
mvanwink5 wrote:I would have preferred "get ready for Earth to Mars in a month, here we come."

I don't think the Navy would have appreciated that. :wink:

Re: Alan Boyle update

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 2:11 am
by Maui
Nice to have some real news.

I'm a little confused about the comments that the funding stream is slow. I would have thought they could have drawn the funds as fast as they wanted so long as their milestones were keeping pace with the burn rate. After all, wasn't the concern a while back that the stimulus money wasn't getting out the door fast enough?

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 2:41 am
by rcain
Ivy Matt wrote:The update contains a lot more than that, including a number of quotes from Jaeyoung Park. Main points:
...
* The funding will probably last until the end of the year, but by then EMC2 and the Navy should know whether it's worth going forward to the next step.
...


that doesnt sound so hot (put like that at least); they should know the answer to that question already.

we will see.

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 3:51 am
by ladajo
The part that really matters:

"This machine should be able to generate 1,000 times more nuclear activity than WB-7, with about eight times more magnetic field," said Park, quoting the publicly available information about WB-8. "We'll call that a good success. That means we're on track with the scaling law."


I just wish we could also confirm the diameter.

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 7:11 am
by Giorgio
Very interesting news.
I am kinda puzzled by Rick retiring from the company like that.
In all of his messages on this board I have always felt his passion and dedication to this project.
I wonder what happened.

Anyhow, to December is just 7 months, we can wait that .

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 7:14 am
by Betruger
Sounds consistent with the simplest explanations for the FOIR bouncing: They just want it kept quiet till there's something worth reporting, no evil conspiracies.

On PB-11: it's reported briskly and lightly enough that you can't really read between the lines... There's mention of WB-D possibly being the next step, without explicit mention of Boron.
Park figures that the money provided under the WB-8 contract should last until the end of the year, depending on how efficiently the EMC2 team is able to stretch the money out. By then, the engineers in New Mexico and their backers in the Navy should know whether it's worth going ahead with the next step, perhaps even with the big demonstration reactor. Park hopes that WB-8 will be the last small-scale experimental machine EMC2 will have to build.
Though if WB-8 is the last small scale machine, that doesn't leave too many things other than PB11, intermediate to WB-D.

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 7:34 am
by Giorgio
Looks like I was a little bit too pessimist on the subject..... :oops:

Re: Alan Boyle update

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 9:42 am
by deane
Maui wrote:I'm a little confused about the comments that the funding stream is slow. I would have thought they could have drawn the funds as fast as they wanted so long as their milestones were keeping pace with the burn rate.


To quote from the article:

the realities of government funding — including continuing resolutions, shutdown threats and other budgetary snags — have dictated a slower pace

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 9:58 am
by mvanwink5
How reasonable is it that Park would give up his position at Los Alamos for a job that will go away in a year, at age 41? I know I wouldn't do it unless I was sure, I would arm twist Dr. Nebel to hang on a bit until I knew. But that is me. I also surmise that Dr. Nebel only retired when EMC2 reached first plasma, and no one said he is not consulting, and there is WB-D design work.

It also does not look like they will be slow in development once they have the data to go forward:

"If this machine works as we hope it will work, it will probably establish a firm technical foundation," he said. "People may say, 'It's a big jump and you shouldn't be doing this.' But every year that the energy problem doesn't get solved ... costs tens of billions of dollars. Sometimes waiting too long is not a good thing. If you look at the solutions, you might say, 'Can we afford to wait?'"

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 12:13 pm
by KitemanSA
Betruger wrote: Though if WB-8 is the last small scale machine, that doesn't leave too many things other than PB11, intermediate to WB-D.
Not quite sure what you mean here. pB&J isn't "intermediate" between WB8 and WB-D, it IS WB8 with some ancilliary mods. They don't need another intermediate scale machine to go pB&J. Just to be clear.

Now Dr. B wanted to do TWO additional small scale machines before going full scale. He wanted to do a "square plane-form" cuboctohedron and a similar icosadodecahedron. Personally, I'd like to see those too.

They aren't much needed for utility power plants, but for ships etc., size matters.

Posted: Wed May 11, 2011 12:27 pm
by Tom Ligon
The unanswered questions for me are ...

Do the proposed mechanisms for minimizing thermalization actually work?

Have they achieved simultaneous control of potential well depth and ion density (i.e the ability to control the virtual anode and thus limit bremsstrahlung)?

I think it is clear that the device is working more or less as predicted. We know the predecessors did make some fusion, and this one must be. The real issue is does it work well enough? That "more or less" could cover several rather significant orders of magnitude.