After seven years of theoretical work and raising money, five months of design, five months of construction and assembly, and a week of testing, Lawrenceville Plasma Physics (LPP) now has a functioning dense plasma focus, Focus-Fusion-1.
"This isn't a demonstration of scientific feasibility, but now we have a tool to do the job", said Eric Lerner, President and founder of LPP.
LPP is currently researching and developing the dense plasma focus (DPF) for hydrogen-boron nuclear fusion. Focus Fusion is projected to be a safe, clean, easy, reliable energy solution that could provide electricity at a few tenths of a cent per kilowatt-hour -- a far more feasible and profoundly less expensive approach to hot fusion, in contrast to what the international project (ITER) in France is pursuing. The end product is projected to be a 5 to 20 MW power plant the size of a gas station, which would cost between $200,000 and $300,000 to build. One person could operate two dozen such stations remotely.
Bruno Coppi, Professor of Physics Senior Fusion Researcher at MIT, said: "Even if this approach does not succeed in producing fusion energy, the research will produce valuable technology in the near term."
Dr. Julio Herrera, Professor of Physics National Autonomous at the University of Mexico said:
"The experimental program that LPP plans to carry out has great potential to show how the plasma focus can be used to generate fusion energy and to demonstrate the feasibility of hydrogen-boron fusion. In addition, the experiments will investigate the magnetic effect, which will be very exciting. Achieving giga-gauss magnetic fields with the plasma focus, getting gyro-radii of the order of the electron Compton wavelength, will certainly be new physics and will open up large new possibilities for energy production."
Lerner announced the successful assembly of FF-1 at the Conference on Future Energy in Washington DC on October 10. At the dinner following the conference, Lerner was presented with an Award for Excellence in Energy Research from the Integrity Research Institute, which organized the conference.
Now that LLP has developed the Focus-Fusion-1 tool, Lerner expects that it will take another 1.5 years to demonstrate excess energy production using the dense plasma focus process.
The first successful shot from the experimental tool, using helium as the fill gas, was achieved at 5:29 PM, Oct.15, and the first pinch was achieved at 6:04 PM on the second shot. "The fact that we achieved a pinch so soon was evidence of the soundness of our design", said Lerner. The shots were produced with a charging potential of 20 kV, a bit less than half the full bank charge of 45 kV. "We will not know the exact current achieved until we reduce some instrumental noise in the next few days. It is probably around 0.9 MA and within 10% of our predictions."
LPP is especially indebted to Dr. Thompson for the outstanding work he has done in the detailed design of FF-1 and in his unflappable leadership and very long hours of hard work in constructing the device over the past six weeks. LPP President Eric Lerner and Senior Research Scientists Murali Subramanian and Abdelmoula Haboub also actively participated in this work. They were also assisted by Joe Gorman of Frank Construction. Rezwan Razani, Executive Director of the Focus Fusion Society, also pitched in when needed, as well as recording their efforts in stills and video.