Robert Bussard, one of the giants of the field, claimed to his dying day he had cracked the problem
Above: a homemade version of the Polywell nuclear fusion reactor
Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Not many people have heard of Robert Bussard, but he was one of the giants of nuclear fusion research. But if an engineering solution for viable small, household size nuclear fusion reactors is ever discovered, they will almost certainly be largely based on Bussard’s work.
Bussard’s focus was on a field of Nuclear fusion research known as electrostatic confinement. Unlike the better known magnetic bottle reactors, such as the $20 billion ITER project, electrostatic confinement can be applied to fusion plasmas which are the size of a small glass fish tank.
Electrostatic confinement has been well known since the 1930s. Small electrostatic nuclear fusion devices are sold commercially – as neutron sources. A small nuclear…
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