Author Topic: Fusion with space related aspects thread  (Read 607888 times)

Offline mong'

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #40 on: 01/30/2007 10:07 PM »
who can blame him ? :)

Offline coach

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #41 on: 01/31/2007 02:29 AM »
I just watched the video and yes, let's build one.  I just read an article on ScienceDaily about a professor at the University of Calgary who recently published an article on procrastination.  It was published ten years late.  No kidding.  If yeahoos like this can be paid for "scientific" results, can somebody please angel invest this fusion project?  If I had 5 million to spare, we could settle this debate once and for all.


Coach

Offline Tony Rusi

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #42 on: 01/31/2007 07:44 AM »
I wish more people would take the time to sit through the entire 90 minutes of the Google video. In the last thirty minutes, Bussard explains that acid rain and air pollution will be eliminated worldwide when his fusion cube is retro-fitted to all existing powerplants. He goes on to say that neutron sources powered by fusion can transmute all existing nuclear waste to benign elements in fourty to ninety years. He has plans to replace oil with ethanol from sugarcane at 35 cents a gallon worldwide. He suggests that third world countries can get themselves out of debt by selling sugarcane to the developed world to replace oil. He claims that OPEC won't mind because they can turn their deserts in farmland with fresh water from fusion desalination plants and feed themselves. He sees his "fusion age" as ending oil wars and world economic instability. Oh yes, and by the way, he can get you to mars in three weeks with his fusion rocket!

I feel like one of the disciples of Bussard. I just want to sell all my belongings, and go study gaseous electronics, and make it happen!

Offline josh_simonson

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #43 on: 01/31/2007 08:10 PM »
Not to mention that no country will again be able to claim that thier uranium enrichment shenanigans are for 'peaceful electricity generation purposes'.

Offline Tom Ligon

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #44 on: 01/31/2007 09:29 PM »
I've been working on a sequel to "The World's Simplest Fusion Reactor".  It is too long and I've been stripping stuff out of it.  The biggest part pulled out was a speil about all the things that p-B11 reactors could presumably fix.  My rationale is that the readers are going to recognize this quite quickly on their own.

Thank you guys for confirming that.

Offline jak42

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #45 on: 02/01/2007 03:40 AM »
Tom,

I am not enough of a physicst to judge whether or not this thing will work technically, but I think the problem is that it won't work financially, $2e8 is just too much money for someone to put up for a risky venture like this (yes, even Serge Brin and Larry Page, they have their financial guys to take care of their portfolio and this kind of thing is way off the curve w.r.t. risk v.s. amount invested for such financial guys).

It is not entirely clear to me why it would take that much. Does a new factory need to get built to make these things, or maybe there is some expensive material, platinum or the high temp superconductor material? Does Dr. Bussard have a business plan?

The typical Series A early stage startup funding in Silicon Valley is somewhere around $5e6 these days if the founders have a track record, and that is expected to last a year or so. The VCs are usually looking for a business track record together with a technical track record. Clearly Dr. Bussard has the technical track record, Jim Benson was mentioned and he might be a candidate for the business track record (though I think most VC types would not see it that way, despite what the alt.space community thinks of SpaceDev), but I believe he's busy with other projects. In some cases, with a really good prototype story, companies are able to raise something like $4e7 to $6e7 on their Series B round. Many of the new clean tech/solar energy companies, like Mirasole, are seeing that kind of funding. The money is really there, the VCs complain that they just aren't seeing any good deals.

If there is some way the proposal can be restructured to fit into the comfort range of your typical VC, I think you might have a much bigger chance of getting funding. That and line up a superstar business type, with at least one $8e8 to $1e9 valuation exit under their belt (aquisition or IPO, doesn't make a difference) to help round up the investors and lead the venture.

Offline braddock

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #46 on: 02/01/2007 08:47 AM »
I think jak42 has some good points.  Dr. Bussard's google presentation wouldn't really be palatable for investors, especially the cost slide from 1994 with penciled in updated round numbers!  It makes one question his judgement...an impression you do not want to make when trying to convince someone that you achieved fusion in the last split millisecond of your prior, canceled funding just as the machine blew up.

I hope he has some good business types helping with the pitch.  At a minimum, any technology incubator would be thrilled to have him walk in the door, polish him up, and connect him.

Offline Tom Ligon

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #47 on: 02/01/2007 01:05 PM »
Valid points, generally speaking.  Most venture capitalists would want breakeven already done, with a good idea of how soon they can expect a return on their investments.  For the breakeven attempt, it is a big extrapolation from the existing test results, with no guarantee of a payoff.  Consider, though, that the same thing applies to most space ventures.  Communications and earth-resources satellites make money, but what about deep space exploration?  Not too many venture capitalists doing that, yet, I think.  There will be.

It is ONLY $2e8.  That's enough to buy a really nice yacht.  That's what NASA calls a "cheap" space mission.  There are hotels in Vegas that probably spent that on their lobbies.  Ford lost that much a week last year.

It is not something every investor would want to risk.  The article I'm presently working on asks "Do I expect somebody to read this article and just pull out their checkbook?  That would be nice, but I donít think this should be undertaken by an idiot."  This is a venture that should not be undertaken without fully understanding the risk and payoffs.

There actually is a much smaller investment to make first, a few million to build WB-7 and WB-8.  These would be the same basic size as WB-6, one a truncated cube, the other a truncated dodecahedron.  The main intent is to figure out if the 12-magnet model works enough better than the 6-magnet model to be worth fiddling with on the big machine.  In the process, it should be possible to try for considerably extended run time.  That should cost a few million.

Offline jak42

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #48 on: 02/02/2007 02:49 AM »
Tom,

How long the VCs expect before payoff really depends on the business opportunity. You are right that most VCs look for a 3-5 year payoff, but there are some exceptions. One of the most notable right now is Linden Labs, the company that runs the virtual reality environment Second Life. The VCs have about $10 million in Linden at the moment but they are smart enough to know this is a longer term proposition and probably won't really pan out for another 3 to 5 years, and they started funding 2-3 years ago. But when it does, they expect it to be really big, that's the deciding factor in whether they're willing to stay in it for long enough.

Regarding your comments on WB-7 and WB-8, that's a good place to start as a proposal for the Series A funded prototype. Of course, the business plan needs to build from there, and must show profitability at some point. If I were you, I'd start by pitching it to NASA's new VC arm, Red Planet Capital. And I'd pitch it as a compact power source for moon/Mars without the dangers and potential public relations problem of having to launch a bunch of uranium. They might agree to take on the role of lead investor, and, even if they don't, I'm sure they'd be willing to give you some tips about how to refine the business plan and presentation.

Offline Tom Ligon

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #49 on: 02/02/2007 04:09 AM »
Jak42,

Thanks for the tip.  Neat name for a VC group!  I took the liberty of forwarding your suggestion to Dr. Bussard.

I heard a financial report on the news this morning about record oil profits.  I think it was Exxon.  Their earnings were nearly a hundred million dollars a day!

Maybe they'll bail Ford out so people can still buy Expeditions!

Offline publiusr

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #50 on: 02/02/2007 09:59 PM »
A small black hole several AUs out might make for a useful platform . A bit of reaction mass fed into it micrograms or less at a time. The x-ray jet at the poles for high energy physics. The BH rotates one way--the surrounding sphere or torus (water filled) rotates the other for elecrical generation from fields perhaps...

Offline braddock

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #51 on: 02/03/2007 10:39 AM »
Quote
Tom Ligon - 1/2/2007  9:05 AM

There actually is a much smaller investment to make first, a few million to build WB-7 and WB-8.  These would be the same basic size as WB-6, one a truncated cube, the other a truncated dodecahedron.  The main intent is to figure out if the 12-magnet model works enough better than the 6-magnet model to be worth fiddling with on the big machine.  In the process, it should be possible to try for considerably extended run time.  That should cost a few million.

This few million is definitely what you should look for.  Think of it in terms of EMC2's own valuation...if a VC gives EMC2 $200 mil, he will OWN EMC2...that won't be an investment so much as a purchase, with the founders crammed down to minimal ownership as the VC takes on all the risk and uncertainty.

A few million to get WB-7 and WB-8 to prove the effect is a different ballgame.  I should think you could get a VC to give EMC2 that easily, and it will only cost maybe 20% of the company.  Spend that over two years, prove you have achieved a fusion breakthrough beyond a resonable doubt, and suddenly you could be looking at a billion dollar valuation.  

NOW you bring in the $200 million, at a cost of only another 20% of the company.  The founders, including the Series A investor who upped the few million, all maintain a very meaningful stake in the company.  Or you simply sell the company outright and develop production systems on someone else's dime while getting paid for the investment in advance...

The closest analogy to EMC2 is a biotech startup with a potential miracle drug, and that is what a biotech would do at the stage when their miracle drug is proven - sell to a large company with the capability to handle the enormous task ahead.  As with a new drug, you are looking at a long road of government approval, public relations, safety evaluation, R&D, energy regulation lobbying, etc to get fusion to market.

Exit Strategy for founders and Series A: Prove fusion technology, and sell the technology and company to a large player for commercialization in three years for >100 times initial cash investment.  THAT is what any VC will want to see on your last slide.

Offline Tom Ligon

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #52 on: 02/03/2007 03:19 PM »
Interesting approach.

Keep in mind, I'm just a sideline cheerleader.  I have not worked on the project since 2001, so I'm not part of any official team putting together proposals, nor am I part of any of the strategy for finding a sponsor.  Its just that we were under constraints by the former sponsor to keep quiet.  Now that Dr. Bussard has been able to come forward and present results, I can finally talk about it.  It just feels really good to know he finally figured out what was wrong with the early devices ... a simple change in shape and spacing, and now it looks like the results match the theory.

Offline Zachstar

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #53 on: 02/03/2007 07:00 PM »
Tom do you think it might be a good idea if you and Dr Bussard went on the Space Show? To talk about the system and how it can be used in space?

http://www.thespaceshow.com/

Offline Tom Ligon

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #54 on: 02/03/2007 07:47 PM »
Its not out of the question.  I'm being interviewed tonight by a British physics journal on the subject of the amateur fusion effort.

Offline Zachstar

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #55 on: 02/03/2007 08:06 PM »
If you ask me this sounds like one of the most important projects of the early 21st centruy so I do hope people will take this seriously.

There seems to be quite a bit of call for google to fund this. NASA and google are already working together on visualization, and this as an effort by both to fund and use. This will surely be a huge PR boom!

And you can have the US gov energy department fund a bit citing national security and well being makes it at super high priority.

If the oil companies were smart they'd buy up the rest of what they can get so that they can use it to convert the oil industry to a hydrogen/oxygen/energy/trash disposal/alt fuel industry that can be worth MUCH more than using oil.

They have extreme profits with oil but I can see an all American system greatly enhancing those profits and getting the political climate off their backs.

Good luck!

Offline publiusr

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #56 on: 02/10/2007 06:29 PM »
The systems that you advocate will probably be done with pilot plants paid for by Gov't money taxed from oil companies. The last Congress gave subsidies to the oil companies to keep doing what they were doing. You have to force better behavior from business by regulation.

Both sides of the political spectrum are guilty of harming engineering efforts. Environmental zealots and NIMY types won't stant for plants built in their state (some even hate windfarms that will "ruin" the view of the ocean from the Hamptons or whatever). free traders want business over seas.

The effect is that the US has lost its appreciation of heavy industry--not helped by nano-tech gurus who think pixie dust will take over for same.

Offline coach

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #57 on: 02/16/2007 03:00 AM »
I've been absolutely intrigued and read as much about this fusion breakthrough as I can understand.  Rarely do we get to witness the birth of a technology that has the potential to be so revolutionary.  Cars, computers rockets and airplanes come to mind immediately but this is so big it's hard to understand all of it's consequences, good or bad.  Can somebody out there give me some details?  How does a fusion rocket affect access to space?  From the ISP's and T/W ratios kicked around it seems incredible.  Will this technology be able to make VTOL craft that fly to the moon and back without refueling?  Am I just scratching the surface?

Coach

Offline Tony Rusi

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #58 on: 02/16/2007 04:23 PM »
One of the possibilities that Bussard specifcally mentioned was a horizontal take off spaceplace that was single stage to low earth orbit with this clean fusion technology. You call it clean because his proton-boron fuel combination produces no neutrons.

A decade ago Dr. Anthony Zuppero did a study about capturing water bearing comets with a nuclear fission steam rocket. The nice thing about this idea is that water is then a "fuel mass" as well as a human consumable, and radiation barrier material. He has a website called Neofuel. The only problem was, back then, going out to get the comets was uneconomical by a factor of twenty, even with a fission steam rocket. Well now that Elon Musk and his Falcon 9 have a good shot at dropping the cost to LEO by a factor of ten, that should mean going to get comets is only off by a factor of two now. Since most comets are thought to be roughly: one third water, one third tar, and one third dirt, bringing comets to L5 has been the holy grail for would be space colonists since the days of O'Neill. The tar may turn out to be more valuable than the water, as it can be used to make advanced plastics like Vectran, and M5, as well as carbon nanotubes. Couple this with Bussard's claim that all the science is done for clean fusion and now you have a clean fusion steam rocket that moves mass around the solar system. I swear the more I think about it, the more I think that we are closer than ever to fufilling that old L5 Society goal of having it's last meeting on the first space colony at L5!

Offline hyper_snyper

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Re: Fusion with space related aspects thread
« Reply #59 on: 02/16/2007 07:25 PM »
Quote
Tony Rusi - 16/2/2007  12:23 PM

One of the possibilities that Bussard specifcally mentioned was a horizontal take off spaceplace that was single stage to low earth orbit with this clean fusion technology. You call it clean because his proton-boron fuel combination produces no neutrons.

...

How is a horizontal takeoff spaceplane possible with fusion?

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