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Bussard Fusion

In a recent article I noted my surprise at the apparent progress made in fusion by the Bussard team and stated I had not heard of them before.

it turns out I was wrong. I did indeed run across them before but the importance did not register so it did not stick in my consciousness. I even have a photo:

EMC2 exhibit at ISDC2007
EMC2 exhibit at the 2007 International Space Development Conference in Dallas.
Photo: copyright Dale Amon, All Rights Reserved

In my defense, I am rather occupied with Society management duties at these events so I do not have much unscheduled time to talk to exhibitors.

8 comments to Bussard Fusion

  • CountingCats

    And there, in the bottom right hand corner, is what all the fuss is about.

  • Midwesterner

    Can I ask a couple please talk slowly and use small words questions in this thread?

    What are the inputs to Bussard fusion? Just boron and nothing else?

    What are the matter outputs from Bussard fusion? I think I heard just protons? What are they doing (physically)? Are there atoms?

    What is the energy output from Bussard fusion? I’ve heard that it exits the process as electricity but at reeallly high voltages.

    Is cooling require for the fusion process or just for ancillary processes?

    How big of a hunk of fuel (boron?) will produce how much energy in comparison to say, fision processes? Will a little lump drive a submarine for years and years?


  • Did you run into Tom Ligon?

  • Alice

    Mid —

    Might be best to get that info from the source:

  • Inputs: Boron, Hydrogen, Electrical power.

    Outputs: High energy alpha particles (Helium ions – Helium atoms with no electrons). They stream out from the reaction space at the center of the machine.

    If you use direct conversion of alpha energy through a reversed linear accelerator (a linear decelerator) you get DC out in the range of 1.5 to 2 million volts DC.

    Some cooling will be required. Depending on the design – up to 40% of the fusion output could wind up as waste heat.

    A .5 Kg chunk of Boron 11 will give 100 MW of steady power for one day. That is in the upper range of what you would find on a submarine power plant.

    A month of operation is 15 Kg. Not noticeable in the mass balance of a submarine when you have 50 to 150 sailors aboard.

  • Midwesterner


    Follow ups if I may?

    Those decelerated helium ions, are they of interest/use? Since they are charged, presumably they can be collected/directed/focused?

    How fast are the alphas traveling initially? Are they usable/practical as a source of direct propulsion? If so, would the efflux be a big problem?


  • Dale Amon

    M.Simon: I don’t think so but I do not specifically remember whether I chatted with anyone at that exhibit or not. Last year was a particularly busy event for me as there was a particularly difficult selection for the ISDC 2009 site going on behind the scenes. Difficult because we had two excellent teams with excellent bid proposals. Since riding herd on ISDC chairs past, present and future is my job, i hardly saw anything except board and committee meeting rooms and sequential discussions in the lobby with people associated with the conference.

    Oh, and I was also wearing my WYSIS hat and meeting with New Space folk.

    So I could easily have talked to him and totally forgotten about it 10 minutes later.

    I’d not survive these things if weren’t for the bar and parties at night 🙂

  • From memory H-B fusion requires energies of 600,000eV. Far higher than is possible with magnetic confinement, but electrostatic systems can handle that. Tokamaks max out at about 2000eV if I remember right, enough for D-D fusion, but no way could they H-B.