Startup LPP Fusion laid out it’s plans to reach break even or possibly net energy within the next twelve to eighteen months. Break even is where the amount of energy put into a fusion reactor equals the amount of energy put out by the fusion reaction. Break even is the current holy grail for fusion research. LPP Fusion is currently the closest private company to achieving this goal. Eric Lerner, Chief Scientist, laid out the plans in a recent update on WeFunder.
Using a logical set of steps, LPP plans to make adjustments to their reactor and fuel to reach break even or better. Lerner outlined those steps and the math used to get to break even. The key items mentioned were decreasing current oscillations in the current reactor and thus increasing symmetry, installing a new set of switches that better deliver the initial current to start the reaction and a switch to pB11 (hydrogen-boron fuel). Following the adjustments and math it would appear that LPP has a plan to be the first to break even. LPP further outlined it’s next goal after that, creating a functional prototype that would exceed break even and be a viable prototype for a commercial reactor.
LPP’s current reactor FF-1, essentially a fusion spark plug, uses dense plasma focus with lasers to achieve fusion. LPP’s design has several advantages over other designs. First, it creates electricity directly from the reactor thus it does not require any heat transfer to a turbine. Second, the reactor can be easily modified and adjusted in a matter of days, weeks or months. This allows LPP to make adjustments without having to tear down the whole reactor. This has been a major problem for most other reactor types. The US reactor NSTX, for example, has been offline due to a small technical glitch that required the machine to be taken completely apart in order to complete repairs. Third, the reactor is compact compared to other reactors such as stellarators or tokamaks making it easier to manufacture and at a fraction of the price.
Timelines have always been ambitious for fusion energy and always “soon” or “in the next decade”. LPP Fusion has been the little engine that could. Even with what would be comparatively trivial amounts of funding it has been slowly increasing it’s fusion results over the past decade and accelerated in the last 3-5 years to where there are today: #1 in the private sector and number #2 in the world, just after Jet.
LPP Fusion is currently seeking funding through WeFunder to help fund it’s research and development. (BTW their WeFunder campaign ends soon.)
Stay tuned to see how it turns out!
(editors note: the editor of Fusion Technica is a holder of LPP Fusion stock)