The Spacecoast Plasma & High-Energy Electrostatics Laboratory (SPHERELAB) is envisioned as a state-of-the-art yet cost-effective facility for the study of the challenges and problems of Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) fusion and its potential use in terrestrial and aerospace power and propulsion applications.

Dr. Robert Bussard’s Talk: should Google Go Nuclear?

The pioneering work of Dr. Robert Bussard and Energy/Matter Conversion Corporation have proven much of the basic theory and physics of IEC fusion. The primary challenges now center around achieve net positive power production from the fusion reactions (i.e. more energy released than required to sustain the reactions). However, this is now as much a problem of engineering as physics and that milestone is likely to be achieved within years, not decades.

http://www.aresinstitute.org/images/iec1.jpgAdditionally, there are applications of IEC fusion and the apparatus known as the fusor that do not require net positive power production, including in-space thrusters/propulsion systems and electrical power augmentation to reduce the size of solar arrays on a spacecraft.

SPHERELAB is being organized to investigate these applications as well as the problem of energy output breakeven.

(Picture to the right: schematic diagram of an IEC Fusor apparatus.)

Located near Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast, SPHERELAB will provide the opportunity for university students and researchers in Central Florida to engage in cutting-edge plasma and fusion research while attracting talent from overseas as well. The laboratory will be a testbed for new technologies and potential commercial spinoffs from the research activities being conducted.

Please follow the links below for more information about SPHERELAB and our proposal.

Read The SPHERELAB II laboratory Public Proposal Document
Read A Backgrounder About SPHERELAB II
Read About ARES Institute’s Planned Plasma/HE Programs

This project has several important aspects to it. Most important, once the laboratory is complete, it will be available for university students and researchers to use to conduct their own experiments. The goal of the lab is to draw scientists together in the study of IEC fusion, the challenges in achieving positive power production and the many potential applications of IEC fusion.

The laboratory will investigate the potential aerospace applications of IEC fusion. Along the way, it will advance the goal of achieving Earth-based fusion power production and the holy grail of producing more power from the reaction than is required to sustain it.

An Operational Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusor

The lab will start with modest objectives. It will be a state-of-the-art facility, but small and cost-effective for university researchers. There aren’t grand visions of solving al of the challenges with fusion, but the lab will conduct valuable research in the field. Once up an running, the research conducted at the lab will bootstrap itself and hopefully lead to more funding, grants and expansion of the facility and its capabilities in the several years after it opens.

One of the goals is to involve the general public, even if just passively. Video of the experiments in the lab will be streamed live over the internet, sometimes with interaction (i.e. question and answer) with the researchers. Sometimes experiments will have to be closed to the public, of course. The telescience capability will also be valuable in letting remote researchers participate in experiments.

A little background on the inspiration for my project: Fusion is not only a source of nearly limitless clean energy (theoretically), it can be applied to a variety of power and propulsion problems. One example is that a fusor-based device could be used to provide attitude control or other propulsion on a spacecraft. When augmented by solar arrays or other power systems, the total power generated can be greater than that consumed. More importantly, the use of a fusor has the potential to reduce the size and mass of solar arrays that need to be built into the spacecraft to achieve a desired power output. The end result is that a spacecraft would be able to travel farther into the Solar System than would be possible on Solar power alone. A hybrid IEC-Solar power system would also have the benefit of producing, in theory, more electricity than the radioisotope thermal generators (RTG”s) which are sometimes used on interplanetary spacecraft.

IEC Fusion Papers

This is a collection of external papers written by other parties regarding the potential for IEC fusion for terrestrial and outer space power and propulsion.

The Advent of Clean Nuclear Fusion: Superperformance Space Power and Propulsion
Bussard, Robert W. ( ), Ph.D. Energy/Matter Conversion Corporation (EMC2)
Download Link: 2006-9 IAC Paper.pdf

ISDC 2007: Inertial Electrodynamic Fusion
Matter Conversion Corporation (EMC2)
Download Link: 2007-5 ISDC Presentation.pdf

An Advanced Fusion Energy System for Outer-Planet Space Propulsion
Robert W. Bussard, Ph.D., Energy/Matter Conversion Corporation
Download Link: Advanced Fusion Energy System.pdf

Aneutronic Fusion Propulsion for Earth-to-Orbit and Beyond
H.D. Froning, Jr.,Flight Unlimited, and Robert W. Bussard, Energy/Matter Conversion Corporation
Download Link: Aneutronic Fusion Propulsion.pdf

Inertial Electrostatic Fusion Propulsion Spectrum: Air-Breathing to Interstellar Flight
Robert W. Bussard and Lorin W. Jameson, Energy/Matter Conversion
Download Link: Inertial-Electrostatic-Fusion Propulsion.pdf

Fusion as Electric Propulsion
R.W. Bussard, Energy/Matter Conversion Corporation
Download Link: Fusion Electric Propulsion.pdf

Space Probe Application Of IEC Thrusters
George H. Miley1, Hiromu Momota, Linchun Wu, Michael P. Reilly, Rodney Burton
Download Link: TOFE_jet_IEC_thruster-clean_v11.pdf

The United States IEC Program
G. L. Kulcinski, Fusion Technology Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Download Link: overview_Kulcinski_US.pdf>
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