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Wed Mar 4, 2015, 04:49 PM

Lockheed Martin's new Compact Fusion Reactor might change humanity forever

Lockheed Martin's new Compact Fusion Reactor might change humanity forever
This is an invention that might possibly modify the civilization as we know it: A compact fusion reactor presented by Skunk Works, the stealth experimental technology section of Lockheed Martin. It's about the size of a jet engine and it can power airplanes, most likely spaceships, and cities. Skunk Works state that it will be operational in 10 years. Aviation Week had completeaccess to their stealthy workshops and spoke to Dr. Thomas McGuire, the leader of Skunk Work's Revolutionary Technology section. And ground-breaking it is, certainly: Instead of utilizing the similar strategy that everyone else is using— the Soviet-derived tokamak, a torus in which magnetic fields limit the fusion reaction with a enormous energy cost and thus tiny energy production abilities—Skunk Works' Compact Fusion Reactor has a fundamentally different methodology to anything people have tried before. Here are the two of those techniques for contrast:

The crucial point in the Skunk Works arrangement is their tube-like design, which permits them to avoid one of the boundaries of usual fusion reactor designs, which are very restricted in the sum of plasma they can sustain, which makes them giant in size—like the gigantic International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. According to McGuire:


“The traditional tokamak designs can only hold so much plasma, and we call that the beta limit. Their plasma ratio is 5% or so of the confining pressure. We should be able to go to 100% or beyond.”

This design lets it to be 10 times smaller at the same power output of somewhat like the ITER, which is anticipated to produce 500 MW in the 2020s. This is essential for the use of fusion in all kind of uses, not only in huge, costly power plants. Skunk Works is committed that their structure—which will be only the size of a jet engine—will be capable enough to power almost everything, from spacecraft to airplanes to vessels—and obviously scale up to a much bigger size. McGuire also claims that at the size of the ITER, it will be able to produce 10 times more energy.

The question remains, is it Great, or just too good to be true?

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Reply Lockheed Martin's new Compact Fusion Reactor might change humanity forever (Original post)
Agnosticsherbet Mar 2015 OP
Romeo.lima333 Mar 2015 #1
eppur_se_muova Mar 2015 #2
FogerRox Mar 2015 #9
immoderate Mar 2015 #3
longship Mar 2015 #4
FogerRox Mar 2015 #8
Optical.Catalyst Mar 2015 #5
quadrature Mar 2015 #6
hunter Mar 2015 #7
Agnosticsherbet Mar 2015 #10
GliderGuider Mar 2015 #11
hunter Mar 2015 #13
Agnosticsherbet Mar 2015 #14
NickB79 Mar 2015 #15
Agnosticsherbet Mar 2015 #16
Nihil Mar 2015 #18
Agnosticsherbet Mar 2015 #19
Nihil Mar 2015 #20
hatrack Mar 2015 #12
Binkie The Clown Mar 2015 #17

Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Wed Mar 4, 2015, 04:55 PM

1. 500 MilliWatts is hardly impressive - does it produce nuclear waste?

 

i know it's mega watts - just playing but is there going to be nuclear waste that will need to be cared for over the next 10,000 years?

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Response to Romeo.lima333 (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 4, 2015, 05:03 PM

2. Fusion reactions produce *much* less radioactive waste than fission reactions.

The main waste problem with fusion reactors is that stray neutrons irradiate the internal components of the reactor, so they will have to be replaced eventually, and remain radioactive. But it's so hard to get fusion reactions to go that there are no problems with unwanted side reactions. Fission reactions, in contrast, necessarily produce a statistical mixture of products from the initial fission reaction, which are then irradiated with neutrons to give a huge variety of short- and long-lived radioisotopes.

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 5, 2015, 12:54 PM

9. Thats true for DD & DT fuels.

Aneutronic fuels like Proton Boron11, not.

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Response to Romeo.lima333 (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 4, 2015, 05:11 PM

3. The waste for fusion is helium. Makes you sound funny when you talk.

 

Seriously, if it works, the products of this are essentially benign. The output may be modest, but the whole thing fits in a truck. And then it's scalable. And it can't melt down.

I have been following this for over a year now, but I don't talk about it much, been 'burned' by fusion before. Privately though, I'm optimistic.

--imm

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Response to Romeo.lima333 (Reply #1)

Wed Mar 4, 2015, 06:24 PM

4. Hydrogen fusion waste is helium.

The worst it can do is make your voice high and squeaky at your brother's birthday party. BTW, helium is an inert gas.

And also, a reminder. If you are drinking beer at the party, do not go near the balcony, and whatever you do do not utter the words, "watch this!"

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Response to Romeo.lima333 (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 5, 2015, 12:51 PM

8. Waste depends on the fusion fuel.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Wed Mar 4, 2015, 06:40 PM

5. An operational fusion reactor in just 10 years

Back in 2013 Lockheed's Skunk Works promises fusion power in four years.

For the last four decades fusion power has only been a decade away.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Wed Mar 4, 2015, 09:29 PM

6. anything new?, or is this 4 months old?...nt

 

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Wed Mar 4, 2015, 09:34 PM

7. I hope not. Humans don't need any more energy to eat the earth.

Give a few dollars to Planned Parenthood and other similar agencies instead.

The only solution to this problem is to reduce the human population.

If we don't limit our numbers, in humane ways, then Mother Nature will do it for us, the old-fashioned-death-and-destruction ways.

We humans are not anything special in the history of this earth until we recognize that.

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Response to hunter (Reply #7)

Thu Mar 5, 2015, 02:14 PM

10. Energy doesn't eat the earth.

I do agree that humans are not some special creation, but a product of evolution.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #10)

Thu Mar 5, 2015, 02:31 PM

11. No, humans with excess energy eat the Earth. nt

 

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #10)

Thu Mar 5, 2015, 03:35 PM

13. Imagine a mess of these machines, powered by fusion...

... digging up low grade ores for the fusion powered refineries, eating the earth:



And hooray, now we don't have to use coal, oil, tar sands, and gas as fuels. We can turn it all into plastic!

Next we can build new cities on all the coastal deserts, desalinating water from the oceans, using the ocean as a big heat sink too, vacuuming up living water and spewing out sterile bathwater warm toxic brine.

We can build giant container ships, no limits, never requiring fuel.

We can make as much fertilizer and pesticides as we want! Put farms anywhere!

Hell, we can become Borg or Cyberman collectives, you will be assimilated!







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Response to hunter (Reply #13)

Thu Mar 5, 2015, 04:02 PM

14. They are moving earth, rearanging the furniture, not eating it.

This article isn't about computers, it is about enrgy that dons't pollute with carbon, doesn't put off radioactive waste.

Most of the human race is not going to happly comit suicide in order to reduce the population. The best way to do that is euducation an a middle class lifestyle.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #14)

Thu Mar 5, 2015, 05:04 PM

15. And the plants and animals on top of that earth?

They are moving earth, rearanging the furniture, not eating it


Your analogy is off. The furniture isn't the rock and ore; it's the living biome above it. And when you strip-mine the earth with massive machinery, "eating" is probably the most accurate way to describe what we do to that biome.

Clearcutting a forest to get at the mineral riches underneath isn't merely "rearranging the furniture":

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Response to NickB79 (Reply #15)

Thu Mar 5, 2015, 05:08 PM

16. We need better environmental laws. but this has nothing to do with a new source of energy.

And these places were created before it existed, so the new energy source isn't relevant to that discussion.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #16)

Fri Mar 6, 2015, 04:20 AM

18. It has everything to do with a new source of energy.

 

> We need better environmental laws. but this has nothing to do with a new source of energy.

The fact that we need "environmental laws" to keep our behaviour under any form of control shows
that we are not yet a mature enough species to have advanced (widespread, cheap) energy sources.

The fact that we need "better environmental laws" just underlines this problem: even the more
mature members of the species are currently (and for the foreseeable future) incapable of restraining
the greedy, exploitative & rapacious members who are in control.


> And these places were created before it existed, so the new energy source isn't relevant to that discussion.

Pedantically no, the places in & like that photograph were created after the "new energy source"
was first being promoted as "the clean energy of the future" - a state that it has remained in ever since.

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Response to Nihil (Reply #18)

Fri Mar 6, 2015, 06:37 AM

19. They have a source of energy that would make coal and natural gas obsolete

to make electricity.

Its by product is helium.

No more coal sludge. No open pit coal mines. Mr. Peabocy's coal train disappears.

You are wrong on this one.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #19)

Fri Mar 6, 2015, 07:39 AM

20. It will be a wonderfully clean source of energy if/when it arrives but that is missing the point.

 

(or "points" as there are more than one of them)

1) Fusion has always been a decade or two in the future so, at the moment, it is *not*
a "source of energy that would make coal and natural gas obsolete to make electricity".

2) Until it moves from the indeterminate future into the now, its only function is to provide
yet another excuse to maintain Business As Usual rather than *reducing* energy consumption.

3) The mindset ruling the human civilisation is absurdly immature and totally incapable of
handling "boundless free energy" without accelerating the rate of devastation to the ecosphere.


> Its by product is helium.
> No more coal sludge. No open pit coal mines. Mr. Peabocy's coal train disappears.

In an ideal world, fusion like this is *exactly* what we'd want to power our utopian society
where all people are equal and the environment respected.

In the real world, (of today and the next decade or so at least), boundless energy (clean or
not) has only one purpose: to make the filthy rich even richer at the expense of everyone
and everything else.


> You are wrong on this one.

I wish I were but my eyes watching the events of every passing day tell me otherwise.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Thu Mar 5, 2015, 02:42 PM

12. "might" "could" "may" - the usual Fusion Fail with Weaksauce

I'll believe it when it happens.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Original post)

Thu Mar 5, 2015, 08:25 PM

17. The oil industry

will hire a bunch of "scientists" to scare people into believing that it will set the atmosphere on fire. Republicans and other anti-science fools will put a stop to it in a hurry.

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