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November 09, 2005


Robert McLeod

Boron-11, like Helium-3, allows for an aneutronic fusion process. Helium-3 is almost non-existant on Earth, while the reaction rate for proton Boron-11 fusion is extremely low. I suspect the reason this process doesn't get a lot of attention is that achieving net energy production would be quite daunting. The Wikipedia entry isn't bad:



Jim, you are the man. I linked your article to my blog with much genuflecting and deference.

Jim from The Energy Blog

Robert, I read through the Wikipedia entry you refered me to and sort of followed it, I certainly understood there conclusion that hydrogen-boron fusion is virtually impossible. The Focus Fusion Society website has the following comment that is addressing at least part of the Wiki argument:

"So why, you may wonder, are researchers spending so much time on deuterium-tritium fusion when hydrogen-boron has clear advantages? The reason is that deuterium-tritium fusion is easier to ignite. It requires temperatures of only 100 million Kelvin while hydrogen-boron fusion requires 1 billion Kelvin.

Unfortunately, many fusion researchers have spent their careers developing a device called the tokamak which cannot reach the temperatures required for hydrogen-boron fusion.

Rather than looking for new ideas, the fusion research establishment has decided that the radioactive waste produced by deuterium-tritium fusion is acceptable.

However, there is a device which can reach 1 billion Kelvin - the Focus Fusion device."

Sorry if I don't understand, but I never understood anything but basic chemistry and they didn't teach anything about nuclear chemistry to undergraduates 47 years ago.


I, too, am confused, and I *do* understand some of the physics. They've achieved temperature, reacted the fuel, and reduced X-ray cooling, and now it seems that they need to demo that magnetic containment can be sustained at the power output levels needed to yield net energy.

On the one hand, the Focus Fusion site does have some of the trappings of the pie-in-the-sky types -- lone researcher, links to other non-conventional theory (no big bang), asking for money, dependence on long known, but somehow never exploited phenomena (plasmoids).

On the other hand, there are some unquestionable advances in thinking -- especially charged-particle induction based electricity generation and a neutron-free reaction cycle. Also, there is real peer-reviewed research, invited presentations at conferences, and, importantly, theoretical groundwork for each step in the process.

People have often said that big science and military-guided research would squeeze out the little guy, and result in less practical progress. IMO, this is the story of the space program, although inertia may finally be breaking there. Can we ascribe the struggles of fusion (and focus fusion in particular) to this problem? I'm not inside enough to know.

Given that cheap access to space and practical fusion power have stalled for decades, while the space station, missile defense, Tokamak, and the National Ignition Facility are the Projects That Would Not Die, I can't help but think that there are missed opportunities out there.

Joe Papp

I have a 1991 paper, Breeding 10^10/s Radioactive Nuclei in a Plasma Focus Device,
from Oak Ridge.

This is REAL work, and tends to lend very
good support to Eric L's claims.

Just write me and I'll send it to you.


There are three companies pursuing hydrogen-boron plasma toroid fusion, a form of aneutronic fusion , Paul Koloc, Prometheus II, Eric Lerner, Focus Fusion and Clint Seward of Electron Power Systems http://www.electronpowersystems.com/ . A resent DOD review of EPS technology reads as follows:

"MIT considers these plasmas a revolutionary breakthrough, with Delphi's
chief scientist and senior manager for advanced technology both agreeing
that EST/SPT physics are repeatable and theoretically explainable. MIT and
EPS have jointly authored numerous professional papers describing their
work. (Delphi is a $33B company, the spun off Delco Division of General

Vincent Page (a technology officer at GE!!) gave a presentation at the 05 6th symposium on current trends in international fusion research , which high lights the need to fully fund three different approaches to P-B11 fusion (Below Is an excerpt).
He quotes costs and time to development of P-B11 Fusion as tens of million $, and years verses the many decades and ten Billion plus $ projected for ITER and other "Big" science efforts:

"for larger plant sizes
Time to small-scale Cost to achieve net if the small-scale
Concept Description net energy production energy concept works:
Koloc Spherical Plasma: 10 years(time frame), $25 million (cost), 80%(chance of success)
Field Reversed Configuration: 8 years $75 million 60%
Learner's Plasma Focus: 6 years $18 million 80%

Desirable Fusion Reactor Qualities
• Research & development is also needed in
the area of computing power.
• Many fusion researchers of necessity still
use MHD theory to validate their designs.
• MHD theory assumes perfect diamagnetism
and perfect conductance.
• These qualities may not always exist in the
real world, particularly during continuous operation.
• More computing power is needed to allow use of a more realistic validation theory
such as the Vlasov equations.
• ORNL is in the process of adding some impressive computing power.
• Researchers now need to develop more realistic validation methods up to the
limits of the available computing power.
• Governments need to fund these efforts."

I feel in light of the recent findings of neutrons, x-rays, and gamma rays in lightening, that these threads need to be brought together in an article.

You may see my efforts with my "A New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy" article:


which got published on Sci-Scoop and the Open Source Energy Network but rejected on Slashdot. The New Energy News will soon run an article on these companies efforts toward aneutronic fusion.

About a year ago, I came across EPS while researching nano-tech and efficient home design. I started a correspondence Clint Seward, Eric Learner, and Paul Kolac, sending them science news links which I felt were either supportive or contradictory to their work. I also asked them to critique each other's approaches. I have posted these emails to numerous physics and science forums. Discussion groups, science journalists, and other academics, trying to foster discussion, attention, and hopefully some concessus on the validity of these proposed technologies.
My efforts have born some fruit. Clint and Joe Dwyer at FIT have been in consultation on Clint's current charge transport theory for cloud to ground lightening.
I have had several replies from editors, producers, and journalists expressing interest. From organizations as varied as PBS, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, New Energy News, the Guardian (U.K), and the San Francisco Chronicle. However, none of this professional interest has resulted in a story yet.

I have been responding to all of the articles that filter in via my Google alerts on "fusion power". The most recent was the "Happy News" article by Kris Metaverso.

This post is a plea to the science writers among you to craft a story covering aneutronic fusion, the P-B11 efforts, Eric's high temperatures and x-ray source project, Clint's lightening theories, and DOD review, and Paul's review by GE. The minimal cost and time frame for even the possibility of this leap forward seems criminal not to pursue. If you read my Manhattan article, you may have noticed that I am not a writer. I am a landscape designer and technology gadfly wondering why this technology has never been put in the public eye.
My hope is that someone, more skilled, would step up to give a shout out about these technologies. Please contact me for copies of my correspondence with the principles, interesting replies and criticisms from physics discussion forums and academic physicists who have replied to my queries.

Thanks for any help

alan ward

its military and economic justafications is change in capitalistic levels of work effiency in adoption clean green and space and the ability to in counter make work for energy,run things like cars and larger engines to do work,at what costs,capitalistic levels and military expenditure change in world to world wide control.


I listened to Broussard's presentation to Google employees(http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1996321846673788606) on Boron11 fusion, and it was fascinating, and a bit sad. He was credible on the science, not on the engineering, and of course seeking a couple hundred million $ to realize his vision. He's got patents and seems to be the only one pursuing his approach. His reasons why he couldn't get funding were awfully pat, though. And he never came close to providing data on how much net energy he expected his envisioned device to create. He said if he can't find an investor he'd give away the patents. He's in his 80's. If ignition temperature were not the problem, how much net energy "theoretically" could be produced by Boron fusion?

PO'd Patriot

The paper that justme mentions can be found here:


Personally, since excess energy has been observed in far less sophisticated devices (e.g. Mizuno plasma electrolysis) I am optimistic.


Venture capitalists are not stupid, and they don't care about DOE. If this process would have been realistic, money would be raised very easily. There must be some obstacles in the concept that scare money away.


The fact that the idea has been researched in secret for the last decade (to prevent congress from killing it) and only just came to light when the USN research budget was gutted for war funding might have something to do with the lack of investment.




"Venture capitalists are not stupid, and they don't care about DOE. If this process would have been realistic, money would be raised very easily. There must be some obstacles in the concept that scare money away."

Yeah, he wants to sell power at .1 cent per kilowatt-hour vs. 5 or 6 cents. VCs would want to sell it at 4.5 cents. :\


I think he is not taken seriously for this reasons:

- What he says is way too optimistic. Considering he haven't yet used boron but only D-T reaction. How can we promise energy in 6 years? Don't tell me you didn't think it could be a hoax!
-Why isn't he in a University, that would be easier to get money plus you have free workers (called students )

- He had some crazy ideas in the past:


It's worth remembering that Lerner is not the only researcher involved in dense plasma focus research. I do agree that extraordinary claims should be taken with a grain of salt. However, the more avenues of research that are pursued, the more likely it is that a viable fusion technology will be developed. The budgets for all the 'alternative' fusion research, taken together, are a drop in the bucket compared with the mainstream hot fusion programs. I wish Lerner, Seward, Koloc, and Bussard's surviving associates, the best of luck. They have the unenviable task of surmounting not only technical barriers but also the political, economic and ego driven barriers erected by those with an interest in the status quo.

Brian H

I think the reason investors haven't gotten involved is that they're scared sh**less. You have no idea how disruptive Focus Fusion would be. Never mind the ITER workers, it would idle 90%+ of the oil industry -- world wide. Every other power plant design everywhere would be instant economic dinosaurs. Internal Combustion Engine transport would be grotesquely expensive. Coal mining would stop, immediately. The price of aluminum would dive -- because the electricity required to refine it from bauxite would be so cheap. Every hydroelectric dam in the world would be dubious to run, even if it was already paid for.

Those are just off the top of my head.

So -- whose investments would be safe? If you are a venture or tech investor, you better hope that FF would pay off enough to compensate for many of the rest of your holdings going in the toilet.

Scary stuff, man.

Bob Wallace

There's no out there who wants to be richer than Bill Gates 100 times over if it means putting some other people out of work.



im a college student looking for a burgeoning industry to invest in soon. (see dot com, google, et al) ive been following focus fusion for about a year and if nothing has really changed at least thankfully theyve updated their site. considering how fleeting my memory is its a wonder its been that long but it always seemed like a wonderful prelude to the singularity.
singularity as in "free energy." well, relatively free. (i mean $300k for a reactor is similar to an average american house.) the world would be upended. liberation from the fossil fuels paradigm (though surely fossil fuels would remain in use, their monopoly on energy would be busted) would free millions of people living in lands controlled by oil despots (see iran, iraq russia, saudi arabia, venezuala, et al) while sumultaneously enriching the world with cheap and safe electricity which could be used for anything (see desalination, transportation, heating, cooling, MANUFACTURING, ect). Furthermore, the dramatic reduction in manufacturing costs related to energy would eventually translate to reduced consumer prices and thus standard of living. this may not sound that impressive but you have to consider that not many things enhance standard of living worldwide. o and did i mention the possibly planet-saving amounts of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases and other pollutants that will never be emitted. kind of a good thing too. and besides when you couple nearly free energy with technology like the wireless transmission of energy youre talking about no more house hold devices requiring cables of any kind. and no one likes cables! i could even foresee electric cars in the garage being remotely charged overnight for pennies, which i guess is also cool. seriously though this shit is awesome and upon further research, unless i am dissuaded in my belief in the projects eventual success, i will invest in this potential giant leap forward.


o and also not to mention you could place one of these things in like the trailer part of a tractor-trailer, or for that matter a giant boat or a space ship or use it to power a superbadass space elevator, etc

Christopher Lynn Skinner

Here's a crazy idea.Don't know if it would work.Instead of focus fusion,could it be modified to focus fission if boron was substituted for thorium?It would produce radioactive waste,but still not as much as conventional reactors


christopher: i dont posses a technical grasp of the goings-on but im sure such a potentially ingenuous idea would receive warm reception here:

Christopher Lynn Skinner

I checked things out with other people at focusfusion.org, and it semms that thoriom fission or any other type of fission of heavy atoms involves physics way too incompatible with a focus fusion reactor to work. My original reasoning was somewhat similar to fission triggering fusion in a hydrogen bomb. If only focus fusion could be doped with some other fuel and nuclear reaction at lower temperature to help get the boron reaction over the difficult "hump". Perhaps the addition of helium 3 would help, but is scarce here on Earth and more plentiful on the Moon.


I believe that education is a continuous activity. Learning is infinite. It is the best asset we can have that others can not steal away from us. Giving importance and priority to our studies is our responsibilities to ourselves and to the community aw well. Just recently, an astronaut on an EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity, or spacewalk) lost hold of her tool bag, and it floated out to the heavens, never to be seen again (well, except maybe by aliens.) She apparently hadn’t tethered it to her space suit, and many people, in a similar fashion, lose hold of their debt management and budgeting and need free credit repair. One missed bill can become two, two to three, and then you have real trouble on your hands. So many people have to deal with all the pains of credit struggles – the sleepless nights, the harassing phone calls and letters, the stigma, the inability to purchase a home or a car except at exorbitant interest; it can be too much to bear. However, do not believe for an instant that there is no way out. We live in the information age, and credit repair information is out there, just waiting for you to learn how to fix your credit score. The road to a better credit score can be long and tiresome, but it is a journey well worth taking. There are so many online resources for free credit repair, that not looking into it is just not acceptable. Click to read more on Free Credit Repair.

x-ray fluorescence

Its a great idea.Instead of focus fusion,could it be modified to focus fission if boron was substituted for thorium?


What if you used a small thin longer chamber for the focus fusion with and open exhaust? It would be like a small fusion rocket. If a flying wing were equipped with fusion engines like a stealth bomber and made space worthy it could replace the shuttle.

Chris Skinner

x-ray flourescence,you stole my idea(or else you read my mind !).I posted this same exact question on the internet about a year or two before you did.Since then,I have been posting messages in the focus fusion forums.And since then,I've learned a lot more about the physics of it all.I've learned from belbear and others that it's unlikely that focus fusion can be made to work with thorium.

But it's nice to continue to maintain an open mind about the endless possibilities,anyway.You just never know which one of these so-called "crazy" ideas contrived "outside-the-box" might eventually turn into something.

However,I've since then considered the idea that lithium might be a better nuclear fuel candidate for assisting in easier primary ignition of the boron fuel......due to it's lower ignition temperature than boron. Although hydrogen/boron still seems to be the so-called "Holy Grail" of maximum focus fusion power.

As for travbm's question,this has already been considered also.There has already been much talk about a focus fusion reactor for space propulsion.Such a hydrogen and boron chemical compound as decaborane would......in theory at least......have a much higher ultimate specific impulse than any other conventional rocket fuel.

dan winter

and if you knew the symmetry approach
angles to correctly phase conjugate....



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Brian H

Lerner did get about $2m all told over the last 2 years. And the proof-of-concept project is now just a few months away from probable/possible success. Never before achieved in history (more total energy out than in). The engineering phases would follow to confirm the ability to get net usable energy out.

As for the costs, they are wee fractions of best available anywhere now. Capital costs around $0.05/W, output at 0.1 - 0.25¢/kwh (that's ¼¢/kwh). No waste, no radioactivity. That changes the world. All "renewables" will be economic roadkill so fast they won't know what hit them.

As for suppression by big gov. or big oil or big biz, Lerner has been wide open with other researchers, especially in the DPF community, about progress, theory, and details. Unlike PolyWell, which is in Navy-enforced stealth mode. It would be VERY hard to suppress exploitation, because once it was known that 'unity' had been achieved, many others world wide would be all over it like white on rice. It's called the "existence proof" principle: once people know it CAN be done, more than half the heavy lifting is done. And the payoff for success here is immense, while the penalty for hanging back or ignoring it is dire.

Projections are iffy, as Yogi Berra said, but this year should see some major development(s).

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As for travbm's question,this has already been considered also.


but the focus fusion could make a problem if not made in safe

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