Gov't vs Free Market Polywell Development

If polywell fusion is developed, in what ways will the world change for better or worse? Discuss.

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ccain84
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Gov't vs Free Market Polywell Development

Postby ccain84 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:01 pm

Suppose all of the polywell fusion experiments work out exactly as hoped for, and that in 7 years we have fully functioning, safe reactors. At that point, a decision will have to be made by the powers that be regarding the govt's role in developing this game-changing tech. Obviously, the military will have a large say in this, but here's a question: Should

1) the gov't completely take over the fundamental development and physical roll out (buildout of the plants and electrical grid)?

2) the gov't merely subsidize the effort?

3) the gov't stay out of it and let market forces do their thing?

4) some combination of the above, possibly separating the fundamental development from the physical roll out?

Normally, I'm a free market guy, but I think the gov't should play a significant role in both development and roll out.

Here's my reasoning:

1) I'm no expert, but I was under the impression that power generation/grid maintenance is already under quasi-gov't control. For example, a company can't just build a power plant, throw new power lines in the ground, run them to a residence and charge the customer the going market rate. In other words, it's already heavily regulated. To have just the private sector develop this new tech (normally the quick route) might take a very long time because you'd have to un-do all of the current operating conditions.

2) Hopefully, the gov't would realize that China, which has enormous future energy requirements and is already polluted as hell, is somehow, someway going to steal this thing and jump all over it. Moreover, China's autocratic gov't - unburdened by vested interests/regulations/public opinion/etc - would IMMEDIATELY be able to devote enormous resources to this effort.

Having Polywell reactors churning away would give the Chinese an immediate, huge economic competitive advantage (enhancing their existing competitive advantage made possible by low wages, lack of regs, etc.).

This economic "fear of God" would light a fire under the govt's collective arses and get us going. Many moons ago, our gov't was actually capable of doing this kind of thing - WWII, Apollo, etc.
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JohnP
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Postby JohnP » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:51 pm

How did it go with fission powerplants? That was tech developed by DoD and the university system under the Manhattan Project. How were private co's brought into that later? Was it an insider thing? Was it all open and above-board? What lessons can we learn from that historical example? Also, what can we learn from what other countries have done?

dch24
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Postby dch24 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:47 pm

There is another good reason the Federal Government regulates power lines. Power distribution (not generation) is a natural monopoly. That is, in economic terms, there is less incentive (and dollar value) for a second company to build a national power grid after the first company has built one, and the dollar value of national grid #3 and #4 just continue to go down rapidly.

Therefore, it is (economically) wise to have an organization that, at least in theory, is accountable to everyone in the nation -- the Federal Government -- act as the biggest and baddest monopolist; they should set up the national grid infrastructure and connect power generation to power consumption.

This economic situation (just plain old power transmission) is further complicated by some other issues -- it's not just about power. Coal-fired plants, which are still the only way really we can meet peak power demands, pollute a ton (well, more like several hundred tons).

So unless there is an organization big enough and bad enough, unbridled capitalism would see poor communities generating coal power for rich communities.

Now throw fission plants into the mix, many of which still produce high-level nuclear waste.

There's a powerful argument for the Federal Government to step in and take control.

No, this doesn't directly apply to Fusion Power Generation. But I think these are issues with our current industrialized society.

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Re: Gov't vs Free Market Polywell Development

Postby Roger » Sat Feb 09, 2008 5:39 am

ccain84 wrote:
1) the gov't completely take over the fundamental development and physical roll out (buildout of the plants and electrical grid)?


I wouldn't go 100% that way, but in the 30's the CCC & WPA programs built infrastructure that is still in use today. The CCC & WPA provided jobs, something that we are in dire need of in this country at this time. Remember corporations are legally obliged to make a profit....that may get in the way of some initial project needs. Later on let them make a profit, tons of it. If we had tacked on a 20% profit for corporations to the CCC & WPA projects, those programs wouldn't have been anywhere as effective in providing jobs. And the recovery would have lagged. We have been in a recession for a few years now, in 7 years we may be in a more dire situation.

SO really I think it depends on how bad the country needs jobs at the time.
ccain84 wrote:
2) the gov't merely subsidize the effort?

How much & where ? We'll need a lot of action quickly. This is where supply side thinking actually works best. Tax breaks for building generating capacity, cut thru the regulatory red tape to make it happen.

ccain84 wrote:

3) the gov't stay out of it and let market forces do their thing?



Market forces are speeding us to oil and coal (Niagra Falls), the market needs to be stopped and turned 180 degrees around before it goes over the falls. Markets are useful things, when they are going in the right direction, at the right speed, at the right time.

ccain84 wrote:
4) some combination of the above, possibly separating the fundamental development from the physical roll out?



I would make it 3 phases.
1)Fundamental development.
2)Initial plant construction done with Gov't, Academic and Corporate roles.
3)Full bore physical roll out.

For a while theres not going to be a lot of people that understand this stuff, so until the pool of labor catches up, I see a great co-opperative effort, a fly by the seat of your pants effort with Gov't, Academic and Corporate people all playing roles.


ccain84 wrote:
Normally, I'm a free market guy, but I think the gov't should play a significant role in both development and roll out.


Are you familiar with how Lincoln helped win WW2 ? I'll tell ya. Lincolns land grants to the railroads provided the incentive to build past the Mississippi. The Market saw to it that rail lines were mostly between the east coast and the Appalachians, with a triangle from Chicago to Boston to DC. A few rail lines came as far west as the Mississippi river.

By 1896 the 6th transcontinental rail line was completed. This infrastructure allowed access to timber iron and coal at unprecedented levels. AS folks started playing with iron, they made skyscrapers and bridges, we needed better schools to turn out Engineers and Architects, even the lowly Steel worker needed something better than a 5th grade education. Its those skills and natural resources that became the material that won WW2. This was supply side economics at its best.

AS I said before, markets are fine, if they are going in the right direction at the right time. Sometimes, with new technology, markets are going in the wrong direction, for many years, with great momentum.

BTW, in the late 1860's liberals decryed the land grants to the Railroads as a great giveaway. But come on, who else was going to do the job ? The Liberals were quite wrong at the time.
I like the p-B11 resonance peak at 50 KV acceleration. In2 years we'll know.

Helius
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Government needs to wise up.

Postby Helius » Sat Feb 09, 2008 2:54 pm

Government will need to drive the whole thing initially; So far I haven't heard of any Venture Capital firms interested in any non-thermalized plasma regimens. Another VC firm sees Magnetic - Inertial regimen (MTF) as the route to Fusion:

http://www.news.com/8301-11128_3-986662 ... enTechblog

I wish more money would chase non-thermalized regimens, but Government needs to wise up first.

I like that this VC guy recognizes corn ethanol as a "scam". Trying to farm our way out of our energy problems is like welding a wind generator onto the roof of your car. Farming is energy 'load', and I doubt there is a single corn farmer in Iowa whom doesn't recognize this, yet this seems to be the focus of American Energy policy.

scareduck
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Re: Gov't vs Free Market Polywell Development

Postby scareduck » Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:48 pm

Roger wrote:BTW, in the late 1860's liberals decryed the land grants to the Railroads as a great giveaway. But come on, who else was going to do the job ? The Liberals were quite wrong at the time.


The Great Northern Railroad was built without them, and it was also one of the few railroads that avoided collapse in the Panic of 1893. You could argue that the government got what it wanted with the earlier land grant approach (a transcontinental railroad that reached to California), but at a stiff price.

Apollo and WWII are examples of the kinds of things the government can do when you have very specific goals in mind where cost is not a particular consideration. My great fear is, say the WB-7 tests go stupendously well, and the physical reasoning behind it is revealed to general concensus that a larger, p-11B-burning device will, in fact, work. (I have my doubts about developing any kind of concensus given the disparity in the papers written by Rider and Nevins on the one hand, and the absence of publication post-1994 from Bussard, Krall, et al. A publication embargo was used at the NIF to conceal the flabbiness of the science behind it. I'm not saying that is the case here, but I would be a lot more comfortable if Krall and the EMC2 team defended their physics robustly.) The real fear is that a WB-8 becomes a Manhattan Project sort of thing, where each copy costs an absurd amount of money, thus negating the whole reason for building it. That is, Polywell becomes another ITER, not for physical reasons, but because it becomes politically safe to park pork in it.

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Re: Gov't vs Free Market Polywell Development

Postby MSimon » Sun Feb 10, 2008 2:15 am

scareduck wrote:
Roger wrote:BTW, in the late 1860's liberals decryed the land grants to the Railroads as a great giveaway. But come on, who else was going to do the job ? The Liberals were quite wrong at the time.


The Great Northern Railroad was built without them, and it was also one of the few railroads that avoided collapse in the Panic of 1893. You could argue that the government got what it wanted with the earlier land grant approach (a transcontinental railroad that reached to California), but at a stiff price.

Apollo and WWII are examples of the kinds of things the government can do when you have very specific goals in mind where cost is not a particular consideration. My great fear is, say the WB-7 tests go stupendously well, and the physical reasoning behind it is revealed to general concensus that a larger, p-11B-burning device will, in fact, work. (I have my doubts about developing any kind of concensus given the disparity in the papers written by Rider and Nevins on the one hand, and the absence of publication post-1994 from Bussard, Krall, et al. A publication embargo was used at the NIF to conceal the flabbiness of the science behind it. I'm not saying that is the case here, but I would be a lot more comfortable if Krall and the EMC2 team defended their physics robustly.) The real fear is that a WB-8 becomes a Manhattan Project sort of thing, where each copy costs an absurd amount of money, thus negating the whole reason for building it. That is, Polywell becomes another ITER, not for physical reasons, but because it becomes politically safe to park pork in it.


The Navy has an incentive for small, low cost, high output, power plants.

The project will get Manhattanized. Depend on it.

What do you do with that kind of money? When the project branches - take both, find out which is best.

Big money should be used to enhance choices not limit them. Then the "waste" becomes useful.
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MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Sun Feb 10, 2008 2:17 am

Let me add that if WB-7 green lights more work venture capital will not be a problem.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

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Postby Roger » Sun Feb 10, 2008 2:39 am

MSimon wrote:Let me add that if WB-7 green lights more work venture capital will not be a problem.


Right, I think the real problem will be once you have a prototype,,, scaling up production as fast as possible, with few people that know what they are doing and no manufacturing capacity.
I like the p-B11 resonance peak at 50 KV acceleration. In2 years we'll know.

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Sun Feb 10, 2008 3:28 am

Roger wrote:
MSimon wrote:Let me add that if WB-7 green lights more work venture capital will not be a problem.


Right, I think the real problem will be once you have a prototype,,, scaling up production as fast as possible, with few people that know what they are doing and no manufacturing capacity.


Roger,

The manufacturing capacity will be there. A lot of it is getting prepared in anticipation. I get e-mails from time to time. Then I multiply those by 30X. So far I have been contacted by VCs, utilities, consulting companies, industrial companies. Not to mention hordes of engineers and interested laymen.

With about 90% to 99% of the project budget available for waste and expediting, I figure 4 years to mass production.

If we cut the waste to 50% I think 6 years is not out of the question.

Think of what this will do for superconductor companies. Righ now the longest piece of MgB you can buy is 1 Km (we know how to weld them and make the joint superconducting). For a 2 m radius coil you need 3,183,000 Amp turns for 1 T. If the Jc is 100 Amps per turn then you need 31,830 turns. Say 32,000. If the average diameter is 4 m then you average 12.5+ m/turn = 402 Km. If we can get the actual Jc up to 1,000 A per turn the wire length could be reduced to 40.2 Km.

For a 1 m 1T coil the amp turns are 1,592,000 amp turns. A bit over 10 Km at a Jc of 1,000 A/turn.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

Keegan
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Re: Gov't vs Free Market Polywell Development

Postby Keegan » Sun Feb 10, 2008 1:56 pm

scareduck wrote: That is, Polywell becomes another ITER, not for physical reasons, but because it becomes politically safe to park pork in it.


My Biggest Fear. If wb7 goes good, theres no reason why politics still couldnt screw it up.

They still could pull some non-proliferation B.S. and push the project underground.

I wasn't really concerned until i discovered early fusion research was classified for that very reason.
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MSimon
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Re: Gov't vs Free Market Polywell Development

Postby MSimon » Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:09 pm

Keegan wrote:
scareduck wrote: That is, Polywell becomes another ITER, not for physical reasons, but because it becomes politically safe to park pork in it.


My Biggest Fear. If wb7 goes good, theres no reason why politics still couldnt screw it up.

They still could pull some non-proliferation B.S. and push the project underground.

I wasn't really concerned until i discovered early fusion research was classified for that very reason.


I have open sourced enough of that so that keeping the cat in the bag once the announcement is made is impossible.

It might take an extra year or three - but there is enough info out there so that a crash program could replicate everything in a few years and be functional a few years after that.

You have been making copies haven't you?
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

MSimon
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Postby MSimon » Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:24 pm

The only way to keep all this properly in bounds is to go as fast as possible.

If you do that you know you are devoting more resources than a more measured program will require. Then when you are done you can cut way back. If you just double what a measured program would require you may be stuck with that 2X forever.

However, if you go at it 10X (for a 2X speed improvement), then cutting 90% would be easier. Then you are near where you ought to be.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

dch24
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Re: Gov't vs Free Market Polywell Development

Postby dch24 » Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:51 am

MSimon wrote:You have been making copies haven't you?
Is there a good way to be making copies? I'm not sure what to do.

MSimon
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Re: Gov't vs Free Market Polywell Development

Postby MSimon » Mon Feb 11, 2008 8:00 am

dch24 wrote:
MSimon wrote:You have been making copies haven't you?
Is there a good way to be making copies? I'm not sure what to do.


You can copy posted pages. You can download pdfs.

I don't think it is much of a worry.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.


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