[our] considerable progress to date.”
“In the committee’s view [Focus Fusion’s] approach to fusion power … is worthy of a considerable expansion of effort.”
The committee of researchers was led by Dr. Robert Hirsch, a former director of fusion research for the US Atomic Energy Commission and the Energy Research and Development Agency.
Focus Fusion: Why?
Our team fully supports using today’s existing renewable energy technologies like wind and solar, but it is clear we need even greener, more affordable energy solutions. Some 20% of the global population is without electricity, while almost half of the world lives on less than $2.50 per day. The International Energy Agency forecasts that 1.2 billion people will remain without electricity.
The World Health Organization reports that 7 million deaths per year, nearly one death out of every eight, are due to carbon-fuel air pollution—mainly particulates and ozone. Not to mention, worldwide energy costs today are $5 trillion a year—and global debt is increasing at the same pace.
The world is hungry for energy.
Rising energy costs and resource scarcity are concerns shared by the developed and developing world alike. We need the ultimate renewable energy technology in the form of fusion energy, the source of energy for the Sun and stars. If we can succeed, Focus Fusion’s low cost and easily distributed electricity will eliminate both global energy poverty and global air pollution once and for all.
Here are just some of the ways Focus Fusion can change the world for the better.
Wipe Out Global Energy Poverty
With 20% of the world living without electricity, it is clear we need to find a source of power that everyone can benefit from.
Focus Fusion would be about ten times cheaper than any existing energy source. Getting rid of the $5 trillion a year now spent on energy would free up enough money to produce about 150 million new jobs worldwide. The reduction in the cost of living would be equivalent to a 20-40% increase in real wages.
Stop Climate Change
On May 4th 2014, the National Climate Assessment in the US stated that, “climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.”
Focus Fusion energy produces no radioactive waste. There will be no more deadly oil spills or nuclear fission accidents. The waste product of focus fusion is harmless, useful helium gas. Fossil fuel air pollution will be ended, with great reductions in asthma, lung cancer and other diseases aggravated and caused by air pollution. Also ended will be the emission of greenhouse gases, and the destruction of the environment by hydraulic fracturing and strip mining. With cheap energy, everything can be recycled in plasma torches. Money can be freed up to stop deforestation and to clean up the environment.
End Resource Wars
Wars over energy resources remain a major concern. Fossil fuels represent resource-based energy, where resources are limited and tend to be fought over.
There will be no more wars over oil. The hydrogen and boron needed for focus fusion can be obtained from seawater and are highly abundant. Every country could achieve energy independence with Focus Fusion.
Today, nuclear energy means nuclear fission, which raises issues like long-lived radioactive waste and catastrophes like that at Fukushima Daiichi.
Fission energy, what is commonly called nuclear energy, would be obsolete. There would be no more radioactive meltdowns spilling radiation onto our land and into our oceans.
Reliable and Distributed Energy
Focus fusion generators will be only 5 MW, enough for 3500 homes and will be safe enough to be located in neighborhoods and towns. This will make energy supply far more reliable in the event of natural disasters and will allow generators to be swiftly deployed to developing countries without an existing grid.
In addition to offering unlimited clean energy here on Earth, Focus Fusion technology could unlock the Solar System. A journey to Mars could take weeks instead of months. Over the long run, fusion could make possible interstellar travel at a third the speed of light.
Nuclear fission technology, like uranium enrichment with its weapons applications, is another source of conflict in our world.
With no use for civilian nuclear energy, we could lock up the uranium mines, making proliferation of nuclear weapons almost impossible.
Focus Fusion: Science
The goal of this project is to take the first step in solving our global energy problems once and for all, by demonstrating for the first time net energy from a controlled fusion experiment. This means that we get more energy out than we put in. We want to take this step quickly, as soon as a year after our crowdfunding campaign ends.
This scientific demonstration of net energy would pave the way for a revolutionary new source of clean energy with no nuclear waste and no greenhouse gases. It would be cheaper than any existing source of energy, including coal. We call this approach to fusion energy Focus Fusion, after the dense plasma focus device that we use to make it happen. Focus Fusion will be aneutronic, meaning “no neutrons” and no pollution. The fuel employed won’t be radioactive. It will be a combination of regular hydrogen and boron (like that found in laundry detergents) that when fused only creates alpha particles, better known as helium.
Governments have spent billions of dollars on fusion with little to no success. You may be wondering why we are so confident we can succeed when the government has failed. There are two reasons for this:
First, we’re using the natural instabilities of plasmas to concentrate the energy. We’re using the same processes, like the pinch effect, that occur in solar flares and other astronomical phenomena, but scaling them down to laboratory size. The government-sponsored programs have been fighting these instabilities. So they have taken a far more difficult route. Ours is much easier since we are using natural processes, not fighting them.
Second, it doesn’t always take billions to get earth-shaking inventions. The first airplane cost $30,000 in today’s dollars, and the first transistor was built by a team of three who only spent two years working on it.
In March 2012, our team published what would become the most read paper of the year in the peer-reviewed journal Physics of Plasmas:
Physics of Plasmas – That’s our team’s paper up top!
This paper showed that we have already achieved two of the three conditions needed to produce net fusion energy. We heated the fusion fuel up to 1.8 billion degrees—200 times hotter than the center of the sun, and confined it in a tiny plasmoid for 10 billionths of second. This is not a long time, but it is all we need. The third condition, which we still have not achieved, is enough density so the fuel will burn up during the confinement time. We have to get 10,000 times more density—a lot, but we know how to do this. That is what we are planning to do in the coming year to 18 months—if we have the financial resources we need.
Our success doesn’t depend on overturning any of the laws of science, or coming up with new ones. We’re just applying known scientific principles in new ways to advance fusion technology.
The first scientific demonstration of fusion breakeven will be a worldwide front-page news event, and our past successes have already started receiving their share of attention from a wide range of media sources:
Focus Fusion in Gizmag & ExtremeTech!
Check out this article from SmartPlanet on our fusion crowdfunding plans:
How It Works:
Focus Fusion works by driving over a million amps of current across a pair of cylindrical electrodes, creating a dense plasma where fusion reactions occur. Here is a video explaining how the Dense Plasma Focus works:
Focus Fusion: Now
The need for clean energy has never been greater as easy access to fossil fuels diminishes, fracking threatens to contaminate water supplies and biofuels are destroying the rainforest. Now is a pivotal moment in human history: in place of constant pollution and energy scarcity, there is opportunity. We can surge into an era of global prosperity powered by fusion energy.
Perhaps because of this potential to really shake up the energy status quo, that means Focus Fusion remains dependent on small contributions–but small contributions can add up!
These crowdfunding proceeds will leverage the existing $3 million investment in the LPP Fusion.
Since Focus Fusion is so inexpensive relative to other fusion approaches, the funding we are seeking is easily within reach of the crowdfunding community. Let’s make it happen!
What We Need the Money For:
Technical success for this project means implementing the key milestones at our LPP lab in Middlesex, New Jersey. These milestones include new, solid tungsten electrodes for Focus Fusion-1; mixing in heavier gases to boost density and fusion yields; shortening these electrodes to optimize for the ultimate fusion fuel of hydrogen and boron; and finally, switching from deuterium gas to hydrogen and boron for the final experiments.
The new tungsten electrodes we are installing in July will be great for cutting way down on impurities that have prevented high density. But tungsten absorbs too many x-rays, so when we get near to net energy, the x-rays will cause the electrodes to crack. So for the final push we need beryllium electrodes. Beryllium is the lightest metal that we can use, and the x-rays will harmlessly pass through the electrodes.
That’s why we need your help. With the electrodes, we can go all the way to showing that a commercial Focus Fusion generator is feasible and ready for a 3-4-year development program. Let’s emPOWERtheWORLD together!
How You Can Help:
We need everyone to help us spread the word about this campaign! Here are 3 ways you could make this happen:
1. Share the IndieGoGo page on Facebook & Twitter:www.bit.ly/focusfusionindiegogo
2. “Like” our page on Facebook:
3. If you know any TV, newspapers, magazines, radio, blogs or potential sponsors please email us!
Contribute With Bitcoin/Dogecoin
Bitcoin address: 12ZXhqAPwMEsW8q1Gi7wTW5c2jF3ztNUPv
Dogecoin address: DELfEvCF22kGBoXzx932byFNsGM6voGCqn
Focus Fusion is pleased to announce a possibility for contributing by using internet’s very own digital currencies, Bitcoin and Dogecoin.
Bitcoin is the first fully open sourced digital currency which anyone anywhere in the world can use for free. It shares a common ground with Focus Fusion by being both disruptive and decentralized technology that has a potential to permanently change the way the world understands the concept of money. You can learn more about it on Bitcoin.org
Dogecoin builds upon Bitcoin’s open sourced code and adds to the mix a whole lot of weird humor and community spirit. For more information about this absolutely hilarious digital currency (based on doge-meme) visit Dogecoin.com
At this time it won’t be possible to receive individual perks for crypto-contributions. However, we are offering a reward to the Bitcoin and Dogecoin communities as a whole. We would like to offer our Golden perk to the Dogecoin and/or Bitcoin community if they are able to raise the required sum of $5000 worth of crypto-currency. This would allow the community to leave its mark on history by getting mentioned in the actual scientific papers when the break even happens.
Read the announcement of the reward in reddit
If this is so good, why do you need our money? Why don’t you already have billions?
Getting money for anything outside the box is very hard. The Department of Energy decided forty years ago to put all its fusion money on one device, the tokamak, and is not funding anything else, even though many fusion scientists think that this is a big mistake (including Dr. Robert Hirsch, who was head of the fusion effort when the decision was first made!). NASA funded Focus Fusion on a very small scale from 1994-2001, but then cut off all fusion funding.
As to big investors, they tend to travel in herds: they invest, mainly, in what other big investors are investing in. (That’s how Madoff tricked so many of them.) We’ve talked to over two dozen very wealthy inviduals and none have invested a penny. Those who have invested are small and medium investors, almost all of them with technical backgrounds—and they don’t have enough. The $3 million we’ve raised from them was spread over six years and money is still coming in from investments at only about $400,000-$500,000 a year. So we absolutely need more.
That’s where crowdfunding can give us a second major source of funds—the critical margin to get us to net energy. Just like any of you would have trouble coming up with half a year’s income in cash, so do we. For that we need YOU!
Your investors are getting shares for their money, but I would only get a t-shirt. How come?
You will get clean energy that will save millions of lives—maybe including yours—and affordable energy and that will save you and everyone else tens of thousands dollars over the coming years.
Under current SEC laws, only “accredited investors” can invest in a start-up like LPPFusion—that’s people with over $1 million in assets or $200,000 a year in income. All of our investors have put in at least $5,000. So we are not allowed to sell shares to those who don’t qualify as “accredited”. (These rules only apply to those who are US citizens or live in the US.) For more information, please visit LPPFusion’s website.
If you really want something else that will appreciate in value if we succeed, you can get the autographed book for $300—they’ll be worth something, certainly!
How can you possibly expect to get working fusion energy generators for $200,000?
We don’t. What we are raising is the money for a crucial and very expensive set of electrodes—money that would increase our cash flow by 50% this year. That will be critical in getting us to our next goal—proving in the laboratory that our device produces more energy out than is put into it. That will be a huge breakthrough, but not yet a working generator. To solve the engineering problems of a generator that can pulse 200 times a second will take a considerably larger project, with a budget of about $50 million over three or four years.
Yes, that is still far less than is being spent on the tokamaks, but this device is far smaller and cheaper to make and run. Just to give one example, the JET tokamak, far smaller than the huge ITER now under construction, takes 10 gigajoules of energy for each shot. Our device takes 100 kilo joules—100,000 times less. So it makes sense that it is much cheaper.
So, to summarize: $200,000 for a critical part, about $1 million to demonstrate net energy and $50 million for the first prototype fusion generator.
There are lots of people out there claiming to know how to get cheap or even free energy. Why is Focus Fusion different?
Unlike zero-point energy and cold fusion, which are based on unproven physics hypotheses, or at least new interpretations of existing theories, aneutronic fusion with a dense plasma focus device, which we call Focus Fusion, is based on an original application of very well-confirmed scientific theories such as electromagnetism and quantum mechanics. No “new physical theories” are invoked. Indeed we are utilizing natural phenomena that have been observed at much large scales in the universe– in solar flares, for example.
If aneutronic fusion with the device is so good, why is LPP the only group working on it?
Aneutronic fusion with the plasma focus device, or Focus Fusion for short, is not the product of one researcher or one group. It is the fruit of a research program involving dozens of experimental groups around the world over 40 years. The plasma focus device, while it has suffered over the years from a great lack of funding, and faced challenges to theoretical understanding, has now become one of the most promising alternatives to the costly tokamak approach to fusion. In Latin America, for example, plasma focus devices are the only alternative device that is now being actively researched.
In this work, LPP President Lerner has built on the work of the late plasma focus pioneers Winston Bostick and Vittorio Nardi of Steven Institute of Technology and of the founder of modern plasma physics, Hannes Alfven.
You say you can convert the energy directly into electricity. How?
Most of the energy comes out in the form of an ion beam. The beam goes into a form of a high-tech transformer which collects the energy into an electric circuit. The process of induction used here has been employed in electrical technology since the 19th century. Recent work by other researchers has shown this can be done for an ion beam with over 80% efficiency. The second part of the energy comes out in the form of X-rays which are captured in an onion-like array of photoelectric receptors. They collect the energy and again convert that it electricity. Again, the photoelectric process is well known. Since both these devices are very compact, they can be much cheaper than the large and complex steam turbines now used to produce electricity. See more detail here.
On the Web, links lead to an analysis by Mike Hopkins calling your results “not even wrong.” What is your reply?
Dr. Hopkins’ analysis misses the whole point of our July 2012 paper, which was about our demonstrating record-breaking temperatures in our confined plasma. Hopkins complained that we had not demonstrated record-breaking fusion yields. But yields depend not only on temperature but on densities as well and we were not claiming any superior density or yield. The paper was about the record temperatures. It was demonstrating that this temperature—sufficient to ignite hydrogen-boron fuel, was indeed confined in a small plasmoid that made our paper the most-read one of 2012 in Physics of Plasma, the leading journal in our field. Evidently a lot of our colleagues got the point, even if Dr. Hopkins missed it. As to densities, we expect to greatly improve them and achieve record fusion yields as well in our next series of experiments.”
What’s the big difference between Focus Fusion generators and current nuclear reactors?
In current nuclear reactors, energy is produced through nuclear fission. Here, a neutron breaks apart a uranium nucleus – releasing energy and more high-energy neutrons. The nuclear fragments produced are highly radioactive. They naturally decay and give off their own energetic radiation. In addition, the high-energy neutrons smash into the nuclei of atoms in the reactor structure, transmuting them to radioactive nuclei as well. All of these radioactive atoms constitute nuclear waste.
The form of nuclear fusion that the US government has funded, which uses deuterium and tritium as fuel, also produces some radioactive waste, although far less than fission. Tritium, a form of hydrogen with two additional neutrons, is itself radioactive. When deuterium and tritium nuclei fuse together they produce a nucleus of harmless and non-radioactive helium and a high-energy neutron. But the high-energy neutron that carries most of the energy of the reaction can again smash into the reactor’s structure, making it radioactive.
In Focus Fusion, however, none of this occurs. The fuel that will be used consists of hydrogen and boron. Both are harmless, non-radioactive substances. When hydrogen nuclei (protons) and boron nuclei fuse together at extremely high temperatures, they produce only helium nuclei and no neutrons.
A secondary reaction occurs when some helium nuclei fuse with boron nuclei, which does produce some neutrons. But these reactions are rare, and only 1/500th of the energy is emitted in the form of low-energy neutrons. More important, none of these neutrons have enough energy to transform the materials they hit into long-lived radioactive materials. So no such radioactive materials are produced inside the generator. Hydrogen-boron generators would be free of long-lived radioactivity, and the small number of neutrons emitted can easily be absorbed in several inches of shielding.
Focus Fusion generators are so safe that anyone could safely enter the generator room seconds after it had been turned off, even if it had previously been functioning for a year. Short-lived radioactivity within the shielded plasma focus chamber would be below background levels of radiation that is always present in the environment within several hours, allowing the chamber to be safely opened and maintained.
How would Focus Fusion bring down the cost of energy?
Focus Fusion generators will produce electricity in a fundamentally different and much cheaper way than previous energy sources because they will avoid expensive turbines and generators.
Since Edison’s time, there has been one main way to produce electricity. A heat source boils water to produce high temperature steam. The steam is fed under pressure to a turbine. The spinning of the turbine feeds power to a spinning electric generator producing electric power. Whether the source of heat is coal, oil, gas, or nuclear fission, the basic process is the same. The majority of the cost of a modern power station comes from the turbine, electric generator, and the associated plumbing to handle the steam and water. So simply replacing the heat source cannot produce cheap electricity.
Focus Fusion generators would produce electricity very differently. The energy from fusion reactions is released mainly in the form of a high-energy, pulsed beam of helium nuclei. Since the nuclei are electrically charged, this beam is already an electric current. All that is needed is to capture this electric energy into an electric circuit. This can be done by allowing the pulsed beam to generate electric currents in a series of coils as it passes through them. This is much the same way that a transformer works, stepping electric power down from the high voltage of a transmission line to the low voltage used in homes and factories. It is also like a particle accelerator run in reverse. Such an electrical transformation can be highly efficient, probably around 70%. What is most important is that it is exceedingly cheap and compact. The steam turbines and electrical generators are eliminated. A 5 MW Focus Fusion generator may cost around $300,000 and produce electricity for 1/3rd of a cent per kWh. This is ten times less than the cheapest current technology. Fuel costs will be negligible because a 5 MW plant will require only five pounds of fuel per year.
Is this like “cold” fusion?
No, it is quite different. “Cold” fusion involves claims that fusion reactions can be produced at room temperature in a simple cell with a solution and electrodes. For “cold” fusion to work, some new physical process would have to be taking place. While that may be possible, it will take a long time to understand what is going on.
The situation is very different for Focus Fusion. The process that leads to fusion in the plasma focus device is well understood using existing physical theories. Experiments have demonstrated that the very high temperatures, plasma density, and confinement time needed to fuse hydrogen and boron have been achieved. Theoretical models of the plasma focus based on these experiments indicate that the conditions for net energy output are obtainable with devices not much larger than existing ones.
Ironically the energy produced by “cold” fusion is heat, so it again must be transformed into electricity by conventional turbines and generators. This means that the cost of electricity could not be much lower than it is at present, even assuming “cold” fusion could be successfully understood and then developed.
You say the energy can be extracted in a beam, but surely it would radiate in all directions?
No, the ion beam is accelerated by an ultra-powerful electric field that is directed along the axis of the plasmoid, in turn aligned with the axis of the device. The beam’s own magnetic fields focus it and prevent it from expanding. These beams have been observed in plasma focus devices for decades.
The x-rays are radiated in all directions and must be captured by a cylindrical or spherical photoelectric device, consisting of thousands of layers of thin metal films to emit electrons when the x-rays strike them and grids to capture the electrons.