BBC Reports (Hot) Fusion Experimental Success with COP >1

An article by Paul Rincon on the BBC News web site is reporting a breakthrough in the quest to develop a working fusion reactor at the National Ignition Facilty (NIF) in Livermore, California. It appears that the BBC has been given some information from someone at the facility, because there has been no announcement from NIF itself. This is the key section of the article:

The BBC understands that during an experiment in late September, the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel – the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world.

This is a step short of the lab’s stated goal of “ignition”, where nuclear fusion generates as much energy as the lasers supply. This is because known “inefficiencies” in different parts of the system mean not all the energy supplied through the laser is delivered to the fuel.

The process used at NIF involves focusing powerful laser beams on pellets of hydrogen isotopes to create a controlled micro-explosion. If confirmed, this will surely be considered an important milestone and a significant achievement for those working in the field — as well as those who have been supporters of fusion as an energy solution.

Proponents of ‘cold fusion’ (a term coined to distinguish nuclear reactions achievable at room temperature from the traditional ‘hot’ fusion processes like those carried out at the NIF) have long argued that there is an easier and much cheaper way to achieve nuclear reactions that produce excess energy. Fusion projects around the world have consumed billions of government funded dollars over many years, and while many hope one day fusion will be able to supply an inexhaustible amount of energy to the world, future projections of working fusion plants are still decades away. Perhaps this new success will generate some new excitement for fusion.

  • Buck

    This and other stories, and their consequent comments, presented here by Frank over the last week or so opens the door to one non-intuitive perspective: that many policy makers and decision makers are not as portrayed . . . disbelievers. True, they might not be the sort of friends of LENR who make public statements in support. But, they see the importance of keeping or expanding their options.

    They may be the sort who recognize the relatively near term pending introduction of irrefutable proof. They re-purpose a $3.5B facility to something which is not impacted by LENR introduction: weapons research. They institute multiple Nanoscience research facilities with a focus on energy at esteemed academic institutions which are tied into the National Security Infrastructure. An anti-LENR Academic institution authorize a 25th Anniversary Cold Fusion Conference. They generate national Executive Orders which open the door to CHP installations at non-compliant power generation facilities. They institute regulations which significantly expand the number of non-compliant power generation facilities. They break the logjam at USPTO with patent’s assigned to the Navy or $10B International Corporations.

    They all do this following the force of enlightened self-interest inherent in Adam Smith’s ‘Invisible Hand’ and not through some massive conspiracy. Each feel the change in the wind and respond accordingly; it doesn’t pay to spit into the wind.

  • Stephen Paul Goodfellow

    50 years of hot fusion ‘research’ and the inordinate resources that have been squandered, has left me more than a bit skeptical about this approach to wringing controllable energy out of matter.
    Frankly, with what little I know about Rossi and Defkalion, my instincts tell me that there is more fertile ground in that direction.

    • ecatworld

      I agree, Stephen. The Rossi Effect seems to be much easier to achieve (and closer to market)

  • atanguy

    Fusion,fission all the same: Unsafe,uneconomical.

    See : Meeting in NYC: FukushimaLessons
    http://new.livestream.com/FukushimaLessons/newyork/videos/31800695

    Ralph Nader speaks at 2:31.00

  • psi2u2

    I would read such announcements as possibly indicative of a reality in which hot fusion promoters and researchers have started to hear enough about LENR to realize that a press release or two with good news would be a way to help perpetuate their scientific franchise.

  • ies

    Hot Fusion with COP > 1? Nah.. they’ve probably just been measuring the input/output power wrong… he he.

    • barry

      Heh heh heh.

  • Fortyniner

    It seems that while the BBC is happy to ‘report’ this non-news handout by the hot fusion fraternity, it is rather less inclined to report a nuclear ‘incident’ that could easily have turned into a major disaster in a highly populated area of southern England.

    http://beforeitsnews.com/survival/2013/10/brits-lose-control-of-nuke-reactors-unbelievable-seriousness-of-a-major-radioactive-release-2492600.html

  • mcloki

    What they will say for funding. Coming out of the shutdown and the default. Yes I believe Republicans are that dumb. The US is going to be strapped for cash and cuts will be made everywhere. Everywhere! And it being America. Science will be the first thing to fall under the axe. It’ll take years for America to recover but it’ll be too late.

  • GreenWin

    Following the failure September 2012 of the National Ignition Facility Campaign, journal Nature published a blistering editorial in which it wrote: “NIF has so far failed to generate fusion energy, but repurposing it as a tool to study nuclear weapons and basic science could be its saving grace.”

    http://www.physicstoday.org/daily_edition/science_and_the_media/1.2874098

    And now, one week after top dog NIF Director Ed Moses quit LLNL (October 1,2013…) we have a sudden miracle? Having never obtained informed consent in the first place, one marvels at the extraordinary serendipity of it all!

    “After an unsuccessful campaign to demonstrate the principles of a
    futuristic fusion power plant, the world’s most powerful laser facility
    is set to change course and emphasize its nuclear weapons research.”
    Nature, November 8, 2012

    “NIF’s “great unfulfilled promise, should serve as a cautionary lesson for scientists who promote Hollywood solutions from their research.” Thanks to “bluster” and “hubris” at Livermore over the course of the last six years, [Nature’s Editors] charge, expectations ” have grown well beyond” credibility. They judge that in “many ways, the lab itself
    is to blame for the unrealism.”

    • georgehants
      • GreenWin

        Fascinating. Thank you George. I have always found geometry a far better way to visualize complex systems. The human symbol set called “mathematics” is less well disposed to accomplish multidimensional problems, e.g. unitarity claims the sum of quantum probabilities to equal one. But how can a finite real number represent infinite probability? Here is a favorite comment:

        Logan Linthicum says: September 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm

        “Greatly simplifying the calculation of particle interactions makes
        the simulation of our universe more feasible, right? To my mind, any
        discoveries in this direction increase the likelihood that that the
        universe we inhabit is itself a simulation.”

        • georgehants

          So much wonderful science when we move into these areas.
          Math seems to be just a tool that has been given us, to allow us to take the first steps from stone to the mind.
          Now, if not long ago, is the time to move on from steam engines to where the answers lay, the mind and consciousness.

  • Alan DeAngelis

    Where will they get all the tritium they’ll need to run this
    thing? From a Fleischmann and Pons cell?

  • artefact
  • Sanjeev

    Its a good news, but I’m not sure. Are more details available? Like how much was input and how the output was measured etc.

    There are some informed comments on slashdot and many are claiming that its not overunity yet. If you ignore all input except the energy delivered by lasers then you can theoretically say it achieved more than input.

    [A quote from slashdot nicely summarizes it:
    There are still three things missing:
    1. Scientists are only counting the laser energy absorbed by the fuel. Not all of the laser energy is absorbed by the fuel.
    2. Lasers are not 100% efficient. They take lot more energy than they give out.
    3. The generated energy is in the form of heat. Converting it to electrical is not there.
    Overall, the efficiency is still less than 1%. Far away from anything usable.]

  • Buck
    • Mop

      This facility is about researching laser ignition for nuclear fusion bombs so that no nuclear fission bomb is required for ignition. You can be assured that this amount of money would not have been spent for research into nuclear fusion that is only applicable for civilian purposes.

      Compare for example with the Navy’s Polywell fusion experiments. The amount of money for polywell research is counted in the millions as it’s not useful for a bomb.