Lockheed claims fusion breakthrough

Christopher Calder
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Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion device.

Post by Christopher Calder » Feb 22, 2013 6:58 pm

Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works claims to have invented a compact HOT FUSION reactor that is driven by microwaves instead of lasers. They claim that they will soon have a working full sized prototype of a 100 MW reactor the size of a truck that will be built on assembly lines.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAsRFVbcyUY

David
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by David » Feb 22, 2013 8:01 pm

I didn't hear such claims in the talk. They have a new magnetic configuration that they think is nice but quote no plasma temperatures or a single fusion event. 99% fluff talk with 1% technical details. I'm not holding my breath.

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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by Christopher Calder » Feb 22, 2013 10:37 pm

You might like this video better from another company working on a different HOT fusion approach.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhKB-VxJWpg

I have no opinion about any of the claims other than that it is interesting. This company hopes to produce electricity for .2 cents per kilowatt hour.

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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by Elios » Feb 23, 2013 1:23 am

if they came up with a small 100MW reactor scale up would be nothing
we can all go home now lol n
but yea im skeptical till i see one running

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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by Christopher Calder » Feb 23, 2013 1:38 am

Well, outgoing Secretary of Energy Steven Chu still wants to run the world on glucose made from plants. We only need one real solution, be it thorium or hot or cold fusion to save us from his insanity. The odds are we are on the verge of limitless cheap energy that has nothing to do with wind, solar and biofuels.

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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by KitemanSA » Feb 23, 2013 4:21 am

It looks to me as if it could be a cylindrical variant of a Polywell fusor with RF heating.
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by pstudier » Feb 23, 2013 5:39 pm

Not only no fusions reported, no temperatures, confinement times, or densities are given. No drawings of the coils, fields or plasma. They mention "open field lines". I believe that they mean field lines that leave the apparatus, and plasma can be lost along these lines. Along with the "good curvature", this sounds like the Mirror Fusion Test Facility http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_Fus ... t_Facility from the 1970's. See general discussion of Mirror Machines at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_mirror . Mirror machines have many instabilities. Without more details, we can only guess.
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by Kirk Sorensen » Feb 23, 2013 7:19 pm

As a former intern at the Skunk Works (summers 1997 and 1998) on the X-33 program, I'd love to know who's working on this (and if I might know them).

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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by Robert Steinhaus » Feb 24, 2013 3:21 pm

Charles Chase of Lockheed’s “Skunk Works” certainly created a stir at the “Solve for X” conference on February 7 when he said that a prototype 100-megawatt nuclear fusion machine will be tested by Lockheed in 2017, and that a fully operational machine should be grid-ready in ten years.

The Lockheed reactor design is interesting in that it is smaller than other proposed fusion prototypes. The Lockheed design proposes to use a compact cylinder, rather than a traditional tokamak torus, and claims it can provide a much stronger magnetic containment field than is currently achieved. The Lockheed design is said to leave fewer points of confining magnetic field weakness where plasma can escape than in traditional designs (but of course it takes only one leak to defeat plasma containment). To achieve the conditions for fusion typically requires a huge apparatus that as a result is expensive and hard to transport. It is interesting that the Lockheed reactor is described as small enough for a truck to transport, yet capable of 100 MW.

I do not want to under-acknowledge the devoted hard work and flat out brilliance of the many current MCF and ICF experiments being operated today, including the recently announced project by the Lockheed-Martin Skunk Works. The problem of producing energy from fusion without the advantage of using nuclear fission to get the process started is a dauntingly hard one, so hard that no fusion experiment that to date has ever run that does not use a small quantity of fissile material to start the fusion reaction has ever made ANY net energy (not even one time under extraordinary unrepeatable freak conditions for even a few seconds).

There is a practical form of nuclear fusion, that is a form of inertial confinement fusion, that can be built today that has a fusion q factor >= 100,000 - produces net energy (more power out of the fusion reactor than it takes to run the fusion reactor), and has been proven in over 800 field tests at the Nevada Test Site to work.
Practical ICF fusion safely releases the same energy from D-T and D-D fusion reactions as current fusion experimenters attempt to release in tokamak and Laser ICF fusion experiments. The same fusion fuels and fusion reactions are used and the nuclear waste (non-radioactive helium) is also the same. The big difference with practical ICF fusion is that the technology currently requires using a fission "sparkplug" to ignite the D-D or D-T fusion plasma. Without the tiny amount of fissile fission material, it is not possible to produce the conditions to reliably ignite the fusion plasma. Practical ICF fusion technology that uses a tiny amount of fissile to ignite the fusion plasma actually makes really significant amounts of energy from fusion (and a very tiny 1% to 3% of its energy from nuclear fission).

Why is there no traction among leadership or the public for a practical fusion technology that, with but a little help from LLNL or LANL Labs, could practically and safely produce large amounts of commercial power in an exceptionally environmentally clean way, into the grid in less than 3 years ?

I am not really sure.
But I think people in leadership continue to be uncomfortable supporting actual practical fusion technology that ultimately produces energy in a succession of small bursts (controlled explosions) even when those bursts occur deep underground (100 meters) and inside of a very conservatively designed PACER Cavity that is formed from stainless steel that is 9" thick prevents any radiological contamination from escaping into the environment and that the confined bursts are small enough to not even be detectable without instruments when standing at the surface directly above the PACER Cavity.

People are afraid of any form of nuclear power generation if it actually produces large significant amounts of power, even when the power is safely produced in very tough hardened enclosures deep underground where the overwhelming amount of nuclear waste produced by the system is only non-radioactive helium gas (and a very tiny amount of completely "burned" Thorium fission products from the fission sparkplug).

During the Nixon Administration, practical ICF Fusion got shelved and the fusion R&D dollars from that point on went into fusion concepts (MCF and ICF) that did not entail any use of fissile materials (but also which have not produced ANY net energy) in over 50 years.

Prediction - If someone convinces you that technologically pure automotive ICE engine technology should be possible without resorting to using sparkplugs, and you remove the sparkplugs from your car - then getting your automobile started in the morning will always be only 30 years away.

Fusion ignition and production of net energy from fusion is similar, your will find it very hard to achieve D-D or D-T fusion without the "fission sparkplugs", and economic commercial power from fusion will always be decades away.

MSR reactor designer, Dr. Ralph Moir, never backed away from support of practical molten salt ICF fusion reactors

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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by KitemanSA » Feb 24, 2013 5:25 pm

Well, may not be smaller than a Polywell. Indeed, it looks kind of like a variant of a Polywell formed for RF heating.
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by rgvandewalker » Feb 25, 2013 3:32 pm

The point is OK, but the ICE example is poor. That kind of engine is called a "Diesel".

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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by glemieux » Feb 25, 2013 3:39 pm

Kirk Sorensen wrote:As a former intern at the Skunk Works (summers 1997 and 1998) on the X-33 program, I'd love to know who's working on this (and if I might know them).
I'm not sure if this is the "inventor" (Tom McGuire) mentioned in the talk given at Solve For X, but the closest hit I got is posted here (Talk-Polywell forum):
http://www.talk-polywell.org/bb/viewtop ... 273#p98006

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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by EnergyUser » Feb 26, 2013 12:10 am

To compare the degree of difficulty of constructing a molten salt reactor versus a fusion reactor, the fusion reactor is orders of magnitude harder. But to build a non-working fusion reactor is infinitely easier. :lol:

There are many fusion reactor proposals. Some are crack-pots; the serious ones are not practical when compared against the fission alternatives.

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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by Steve Brown » Mar 05, 2013 9:08 pm

friend2all wrote:Charles Chase of Lockheed’s “Skunk Works” certainly created a stir at the “Solve for X” conference on February 7 when he said that a prototype 100-megawatt nuclear fusion machine will be tested by Lockheed in 2017, and that a fully operational machine should be grid-ready in ten years.

The Lockheed reactor design is interesting in that it is smaller than other proposed fusion prototypes. The Lockheed design proposes to use a compact cylinder, rather than a traditional tokamak torus, and claims it can provide a much stronger magnetic containment field than is currently achieved. The Lockheed design is said to leave fewer points of confining magnetic field weakness where plasma can escape than in traditional designs (but of course it takes only one leak to defeat plasma containment). To achieve the conditions for fusion typically requires a huge apparatus that as a result is expensive and hard to transport. It is interesting that the Lockheed reactor is described as small enough for a truck to transport, yet capable of 100 MW.

I do not want to under-acknowledge the devoted hard work and flat out brilliance of the many current MCF and ICF experiments being operated today, including the recently announced project by the Lockheed-Martin Skunk Works. The problem of producing energy from fusion without the advantage of using nuclear fission to get the process started is a dauntingly hard one, so hard that no fusion experiment that to date has ever run that does not use a small quantity of fissile material to start the fusion reaction has ever made ANY net energy (not even one time under extraordinary unrepeatable freak conditions for even a few seconds).

There is a practical form of nuclear fusion, that is a form of inertial confinement fusion, that can be built today that has a fusion q factor >= 100,000 - produces net energy (more power out of the fusion reactor than it takes to run the fusion reactor), and has been proven in over 800 field tests at the Nevada Test Site to work.
Practical ICF fusion safely releases the same energy from D-T and D-D fusion reactions as current fusion experimenters attempt to release in tokamak and Laser ICF fusion experiments. The same fusion fuels and fusion reactions are used and the nuclear waste (non-radioactive helium) is also the same. The big difference with practical ICF fusion is that the technology currently requires using a fission "sparkplug" to ignite the D-D or D-T fusion plasma. Without the tiny amount of fissile fission material, it is not possible to produce the conditions to reliably ignite the fusion plasma. Practical ICF fusion technology that uses a tiny amount of fissile to ignite the fusion plasma actually makes really significant amounts of energy from fusion (and a very tiny 1% to 3% of its energy from nuclear fission).

Why is there no traction among leadership or the public for a practical fusion technology that, with but a little help from LLNL or LANL Labs, could practically and safely produce large amounts of commercial power in an exceptionally environmentally clean way, into the grid in less than 3 years ?

I am not really sure.
But I think people in leadership continue to be uncomfortable supporting actual practical fusion technology that ultimately produces energy in a succession of small bursts (controlled explosions) even when those bursts occur deep underground (100 meters) and inside of a very conservatively designed PACER Cavity that is formed from stainless steel that is 9" thick prevents any radiological contamination from escaping into the environment and that the confined bursts are small enough to not even be detectable without instruments when standing at the surface directly above the PACER Cavity.

People are afraid of any form of nuclear power generation if it actually produces large significant amounts of power, even when the power is safely produced in very tough hardened enclosures deep underground where the overwhelming amount of nuclear waste produced by the system is only non-radioactive helium gas (and a very tiny amount of completely "burned" Thorium fission products from the fission sparkplug).

During the Nixon Administration, practical ICF Fusion got shelved and the fusion R&D dollars from that point on went into fusion concepts (MCF and ICF) that did not entail any use of fissile materials (but also which have not produced ANY net energy) in over 50 years.

Prediction - If someone convinces you that technologically pure automotive ICE engine technology should be possible without resorting to using sparkplugs, and you remove the sparkplugs from your car - then getting your automobile started in the morning will always be only 30 years away.

Fusion ignition and production of net energy from fusion is similar, your will find it very hard to achieve D-D or D-T fusion without the "fission sparkplugs", and economic commercial power from fusion will always be decades away.

MSR reactor designer, Dr. Ralph Moir, never backed away from support of practical molten salt ICF fusion reactors
It is as though people fear the tremendous energies latent in the foundations of reality. This is unfortunate because science has provided the knowledge to harness the energy of the universe for the benefit of humankind. Energy is so abundant in the universe that it is ironic we have anything like an energy shortage. The sun radiates prodigious quantities of energy out into space, for billions of years. Only a tiny fraction of that energy shines on Earth, but it has been enough to make the planet habitable and to provide the fossil fuels we have relied upon. It makes me want to say to humankind wake up foolish children solutions to all our problems are right here in front of us, if you will only acknowledge that they exist. Let's move beyond windmills.

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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works claims cheap HOT fusion devi

Post by rihoughton » Mar 09, 2013 9:33 pm

Christopher Calder wrote:You might like this video better from another company working on a different HOT fusion approach.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhKB-VxJWpg

I have no opinion about any of the claims other than that it is interesting. This company hopes to produce electricity for .2 cents per kilowatt hour.
This one does go quite a bit into technical details about how the plasma is created and how it takes advantage of the various instabilities of the plasma until it ultimately compresses the plasma into an area of a few microns wide where fusion conditions allow for many events resulting in zero neutrons to have to deal with. This is pulsed rapidly, no effort whatsoever to have a controlled, constant plasma ala tokamak. The really cool part is that electricity is created directly without any need for a heat to steam to turbine type cycle. I do not know if this will ever work but it does make the tokamak design seem like a bad dream (wait a minute, it already IS a bad dream). They project about $300,000 per 100 MW working plant. I like MSR's but if (big if) this design proves out, it will pop very rapidly and I like that very much.

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