Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Point out news stories, on the net or in mainstream media, related to polywell fusion.

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rashudo
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Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by rashudo »

So a new player has arrived on the fusion market. And this time it's not some crazy italian professor, but Lockheed Martin, and they're planning to have a working full-scale prototype in 2018.

http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/02/new-go ... kheed.html

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

Does anyone of you know Charles Chase?

If this is all true, and it looks to be, then we're going to have fusion very soon.

MSimon
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by MSimon »

rashudo wrote:So a new player has arrived on the fusion market. And this time it's not some crazy italian professor, but Lockheed Martin, and they're planning to have a working full-scale prototype in 2018.

http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/02/new-go ... kheed.html

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

Does anyone of you know Charles Chase?

If this is all true, and it looks to be, then we're going to have fusion very soon.
This is a dead end. D-T fusion. Lots of neutrons. Breeding blanket. 10MW/sq m - cooling is going to be a bit of a problem unless you run it pulsed. And you need a thermal plant. Which is long lead.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

JLawson
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by JLawson »

As I posted over there...
For quite a while now I've been thinking a lot of the government financed fusion projects have been more concerned with the 'government financed' part and not so much with the 'fusion' part. That's great if you're a PhD that wants a long-term job in which you can always promise more results if you get more money - but lousy if you're looking to produce something practical.

And REALLY lousy if you're actually looking for a return on your investment. Lockheed isn't going to sink a whole lot of money into something they don't expect to turn a profit on.

And if this will fit on a truck - you're looking at something with practical potential in transportation applications, (shipboard power comes to mind - and how many megawatts/equivalent do the engines on a C-5M produce? Could this actually power an aircraft?) and of course power generation.

IF this works as expected (and coming from the Skunk Works I'd expect an 80% chance of that, they've got a pretty good record of building stuff that does what it says on the box, and in one particular case too well - the "Sea Shadow" stealth ship was notably unstealthy because it's radar return was less than the water around it...) then it could be a real game changer on the energy front.

Which means if it works it'll be fought tooth and nail by the environmental lobby. It is, after all, 'nuclear power'.
So if Lockheed's looking to do this, then they think they can do it quickly (IE they're not going to throw money at it for 20+ years, only to end up abandoning it) and profitably. I don't think I'd bet against them at this point.
When opinion and reality conflict - guess which one is going to win in the long run.

KitemanSA
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by KitemanSA »

MSimon wrote:And you need a thermal plant. Which is long lead.
With Lock-Mar, not so much since they have a wide assortment of Brayton Cycle machines on the market right now.

Skipjack
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by Skipjack »

Seems like they have discovered a new possible configuration for a fusion reactor. Wished there were more details revealed about the exact nature of that.
High Beta does sound interesting!
I agree with Msimon that D+T is not ideal, but then their reactor is very compact and has a comparably simple cylindrical configuration. That makes the design as well as maintenance and construction of these reactors a lot cheaper and more efficient, which might help mitigating the high neutron problems a bit.
The 2018 timeframe sounds fantastic!
Personally, I am intrigued.

paperburn1
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by paperburn1 »

I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.

JLawson
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by JLawson »

Skipjack wrote:Seems like they have discovered a new possible configuration for a fusion reactor. Wished there were more details revealed about the exact nature of that.
High Beta does sound interesting!
I agree with Msimon that D+T is not ideal, but then their reactor is very compact and has a comparably simple cylindrical configuration. That makes the design as well as maintenance and construction of these reactors a lot cheaper and more efficient, which might help mitigating the high neutron problems a bit.
The 2018 timeframe sounds fantastic!
Personally, I am intrigued.
From a quick scan - and realizing I'm at about a kindergarden level of knowledge compared to a lot of the folks here - wouldn't borated polyethylene help with the neutron problem? Or would the amount needed for proper shielding be prohibitive?
When opinion and reality conflict - guess which one is going to win in the long run.

ladajo
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by ladajo »

http://lss.fnal.gov/archive/other/ssc/s ... 92-172.pdf

http://www.deqtech.com/Shieldwerx/Info/ ... erties.pdf

http://www.osti.gov/bridge/purl.cover.j ... 627894.pdf
The energy ranges :
covered were from about 800 keV to 14 MeV for neutrons
and from about 800 keV to 10 MeV for gamma ravs.
You can also get straight up Poly, or differing densities of Boron.

The Boron density varies the tenth thickness. 30% runs about 5 inches to spec. for the SWX-210.
But particle energy level really does matter. Look at the last link for the Oak Ridge work.
The development of atomic power, though it could confer unimaginable blessings on mankind, is something that is dreaded by the owners of coal mines and oil wells. (Hazlitt)
What I want to do is to look up C. . . . I call him the Forgotten Man. (Sumner)

Torulf2
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by Torulf2 »

The neutron problem in T+D fusion is to get enough breeding of T.
If you have solve the breeding there are not many neutrons how can be dangerous outside the reactor.

Does someone know watt kind of reactor this is?
I goggled on “High Beta configuration” and most of it was on FRC and some sites
on High Beta tokamaks and High Beta stellators. From the form and size it looks like an FRC.

Maui
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Location: Madison, WI

Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by Maui »

MSimon wrote:This is a dead end. D-T fusion. Lots of neutrons. Breeding blanket. 10MW/sq m - cooling is going to be a bit of a problem unless you run it pulsed. And you need a thermal plant. Which is long lead.
Even if it has problems, if they can have positive energy from a small reactor in a few years, how could you deny this is a much better situation that we have now?

With the caveat that I have zero serious knowledge about nuclear physics, if it can deliver on the D-T fusion, would it not be about as conceivable that this reactor be improved in the future to allow for p–11B reactions as it would that any other design out there is able to achieve it?

93143
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by 93143 »

This is (probably) a thermal reactor. Bremsstrahlung suppression tends to be difficult or impossible in a thermal plasma. Focus Fusion is hoping for quantum magnetic suppression, but even they have to use layers of lead foil as photovoltaic panels.

On the other hand, the Skunk Works presentation did mention the possibility of direct conversion, though the slide it was on was a fairly general 'introduction to fusion power' and only showed the D-T reaction...

glemieux
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Location: Berkeley, CA

Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by glemieux »

The only thing I've been able to find possibly related to this talk is a what looks like a PhD paper from the "inventor" of this new concept, Tom McGuire, mentioned in the presentation:

http://ssl.mit.edu/publications/theses/ ... Thomas.pdf

He's also listed on this (pretty outdated looking) research summary on IECs at MIT:

http://ssl.mit.edu/research/Fusion.html

Again, I have no idea if this is actually the guy working on this. It's just the closest hit I found trolling the net.

Skipjack
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by Skipjack »

I was thinking FRC too, but I do have to wonder how they managed to solve the problems the other teams have had with FRCs.
Either way, it is high beta (=1), so shouldnt it allow for advanced fuels to be used, at least theoretically? FRCs theoretically can.
The cylindrical layout and the much smaller device would certainly help mitigating some of the problems that tokamaks have, even if they were to use only DT. E.g. a reactor like this could be easily enclosed with a blanket of spent fuel for a hybrid reactor that burns nuclear waste. The lithium blanket would also be a lot simpler and easier to handle than in the tokamak.
John Slough describes this as one of the advantages for this FRC based concept and it makes sense to me.

kcdodd
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Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by kcdodd »

I don't think it's FRC. But I'm just guessing.
Carter

Skipjack
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Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2008 2:29 pm

Re: Lockheed Martin Skunkworks - Compact Fusion

Post by Skipjack »

Yeah, the currently available information is quite sketchy on that.

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