Sci-fi thermonuclear reactor

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vasimv
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 7:20 am
Location: Moscow, Russia

Sci-fi thermonuclear reactor

Post by vasimv »

Hello everyone!

I'm trying to write scifi book and need some tips. I'm not good with the nuclear science as many people here, hope someone will give good points on this.

The book is about sub-light spaceship slowly travelling to other star, to build the human colony. It has pulse thermonuclear engine with proton-boron fuel charges, exploding outside of the ship after compression by large number of very efficient lasers and superconducting magnets. Obviously, the ship needs some kind of energy source, compatible with the engine's fuel. I'm thinking of pulse thermonuclear source, where same fuel charges do explode inside of the reactor, filled with amount of a substance. This heats up the substance and allows to produce the electricity for spaceship and colony's systems by utilizing the heat and/or direct fusion power usage (by another "magic" device with good efficiency).

Does laser-driven compression looks good for this? I know it does produce quite small surplus of energy in our real world, but will do it better if we would have super-lasers with 99% efficiency (or so) in large numbers? It is possible to create some kind of munroe effect (like in anti-tank warheads) within thermonuclear fusion fuel to initiate fusion reaction by exploding smaller charges around main fuel charge if we could precisely shape these laser arrays?

How small the reactor could be to produce tens of megawatts? I don't really care about shielding as the ship doesn't have alive humans on and the colony is on an empty planet.

paperburn1
Posts: 2457
Joined: Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:53 am
Location: Third rock from the sun.

Re: Sci-fi thermonuclear reactor

Post by paperburn1 »

His site is exactly what your looking for.
http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/r ... ptions.php
I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.

Tom Ligon
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Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2007 1:23 am
Location: Northern Virginia
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Re: Sci-fi thermonuclear reactor

Post by Tom Ligon »

I would not choose laser compression for p-B11 fusion.

R. W. Bussard, famous in SF for the Interstellar Ramjet, is the inventor of the Polywell concept this site is about. While the Navy did not let him discuss the actual project, he was allowed to speculate about space propulsion applications. The papers he published on this have been conveniently archived by Mark Duncan at Askmar.com.

http://askmar.com/Fusion.html

Look under the heading "IEC Fusion and Spaceflight".

Dr. Bussard was targeting multiple gigawatts, not mere megawatts. He believed this could be done with a grid radius of 2 meters, which would probably correspond to a roughly spherical reactor about 6 meters in diameter, probably somewhat more than than with supporting equipment. One of my talks shows a Space Shuttle Main Engine, which generates 6 GW, as an illustration of the kind of power you need for really serious rockets, as opposed to electric propulsion systems so far, utilizing more like 2-20 kW.

He and I discussed these concepts at some length while I worked for him, so after you review these papers, feel free to ask me if you need any clarification. He also still thought the Interstellar Ramjet would eventually work, and had me work on a story for a diabolical application of one, which became a story in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Nov 2007, "El Dorado."

"El Dorado" and its sequel "Payback" were translated for Esli, if you would care to read them in Russian. The spacecraft described in "El Dorado" were p-B11 fusion-powered, per the designs in the papers found at Askmar.com.

Tom Ligon
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Joined: Wed Aug 22, 2007 1:23 am
Location: Northern Virginia
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Re: Sci-fi thermonuclear reactor

Post by Tom Ligon »

«Человек должен суметь следующее: поменять подгузник, спланировать вторжение, заколоть кабанчика, привести корабль в порт, спроектировать здание, написать сонет, свести дебет с кредитом, построить стену, вправить сустав, утешить умирающего, отдать приказ, сотрудничать, действовать в одиночку, удобрить землю навозом, решить уравнение, проанализировать новую проблему, запрограммировать компьютер, приготовить вкусное блюдо, мудро сражаться и бесстрашно умереть.»

Справедливость данного впечатляющего перечня навыков Том Лигон подтверждает известной цитатой из романа Роберта Хайнлайна «Достаточно времени для любви, или Жизни Лазаруса Лонга», где классик говорит: «Специализация — это для насекомых».

(Excerpts from the bio in Esli, pretty much taken from my home page at tomligon.com.)

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