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Lockheed Martin's Fusion Reactor

Dragon029

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


I hadn't seen this video / heard of this story until about a month ago, and up until tonight, hadn't realised how significant it could be, assuming all is true (noting of course that I'm nothing of a nuclear physics expert).

So what are the chances that their expectations (a production model possible for 2017) are plausible? Obviously 2017 is fairly far-fetched, even excluding the scientific / engineering perspective, but what would be the chances that we see break-even fusion some 15-30 years before projects like ITER reach the same point? Certainly being a Skunk Works project would lend it credibility wouldn't it?

Also, something else I find quite interesting is the idea of what kind of political environment is capable of allowing something like this to go public. If we assumed for a second that what they say is 100% true, it could mean a global upheaval of energy supply. Depending on how it's taken, it could lead (theoretically) to either global recession, or global recovery. What would Africa be capable of, powered by relatively cheap fusion?

Anyway; thoughts?
 

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They found a new way of confining the plasma, but stll didn't get to the point, where fusion sets in, did they ?
Would be more than just great, if we would have mobile fusion reactors, as he said. And even if we'll have to wait
for them 5 or ten years more, no doubt. And no doubt, too, about the worldwide implications ... IF it comes to
a workable reactor.
From what I know, one problem, that principally is still unsolved, is the durability of the materials needed for a
commercial reactor. The very high temperatures and radiation levels directly in the reactor would still be limiting
lifetime of such machines to unacceptable low levels for commercial use. And the way fusion is started probably
is irrelevant here.
But I won't deny, that this could be a very worthwhile development, I just have doubts about the given outlook for
the future.
 

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The Lockheed Martin high beta fusion reactor sounds very exciting and could have implications for hydrocarbon energy politics. Nations are now sparing over proven and potential oil and gas reserves. It may also affect the wealth of coal, oil, and gas producers. The 100MW reactor seems small enough that it could also conceivably power locomotives and sea-going ships.

However, despite Charles Chase's optimism for high beta fusion reactor technology, I believe that Lockheed Martin has its work cut out for it in overcoming the public's fear of nuclear power. These fears may be irrational or rational, yet they will cause public resistance to this technology nonetheless. Lockheed Martin has to demonstrate that this technology is clean, safe, robust, and reliable and educate the public on the differences between nuclear fusion and nuclear fission. The public is also not as naive as it once was in the 1950s when nuclear power generation promised to provide electrical power that was too cheap to meter. Lockheed Martin's claims will be greeted with much skepticism. Further, the technology, if feasible, is also a threat to the monetary interests of hydrocarbon-based energy producers who will also resist this technology.

The idea of a trip to Mars lasting one month rather than six is a particularly attractive one to me. Perhaps if space exploration ever becomes a national priority again we might see NASA use this technology to take human beings around the solar system. At the present time, it appears that only the People's Republic of China and India is enthusiastic about human space exploration. The United States human space program seems to be on the way to decommissioning with its launch infrastructure either dismantled or abandoned and its unwillingness to invest in new launch vehicles or spacecraft.
 

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The idea of "a trip to Mars" coupled with a feasible nuclear (fusion) reactor probably is aimed exactly at people,
who principally are afraid of anything nuclear, but "wow, a trip to Mars ..!"
Otherwise mentioning that on an introduction of a device, that shall change the world in less than five years
makes no sense to me .
The technology Lockheed says to have developed so far IS safe, with regards to nuclear technology. It may
be a tool to get a fusion reactor, but it is just that : A tool, not a workable reactor itself.
 

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Somehow I can't believe Lockheed thinks it is sitting on a gold mine and is handling it like a low level IR&D project. They certainly want government funding to pursue this research but there are lots of savvy billionaires out there who would pounce on this if it passed muster with their private experts. I guess I'll stay a skeptic until...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HYoq6vIVXc
 

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Fixed link: http://www.gizmag.com/dynomak-fusion-reactor-university-washington/34174/
 

sferrin

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fredymac said:
Somehow I can't believe Lockheed thinks it is sitting on a gold mine and is handling it like a low level IR&D project. They certainly want government funding to pursue this research but there are lots of savvy billionaires out there who would pounce on this if it passed muster with their private experts. I guess I'll stay a skeptic until...
Depends if they funded it internally or not. If they did they'd no doubt want to keep all the IP (and the profits) to themselves. Assuming they're onto something that is.
 

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Dragon029

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As far as I'm aware, Lockheed won't need such materials, simply because, despite having ~10x hotter plasma than ITER, the Lockheed reactor is meant to be far more successful in keeping the plasma contained, which in turn means that you won't have as much convective heating on the casing.

But either way, time will tell; you could probably make a safe assumption that Lockheed's guys have at least considered what they need in order to not have their reactor turn to slag.

sferrin; 1 billion degrees (which is the figure I'd seen) isn't too far fetched; previous tokamaks had their plasmas reach 100 million degrees.
 

sublight is back

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Dragon029 said:
As far as I'm aware, Lockheed won't need such materials, simply because, despite having ~10x hotter plasma than ITER, the Lockheed reactor is meant to be far more successful in keeping the plasma contained, which in turn means that you won't have as much convective heating on the casing.
Say what? The hot plasma is contained in a magnetic field which does absolutely nothing to shield the heat from reaching the outer container.
 

sferrin

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sublight is back said:
Dragon029 said:
As far as I'm aware, Lockheed won't need such materials, simply because, despite having ~10x hotter plasma than ITER, the Lockheed reactor is meant to be far more successful in keeping the plasma contained, which in turn means that you won't have as much convective heating on the casing.
Say what? The hot plasma is contained in a magnetic field which does absolutely nothing to shield the heat from reaching the outer container.
That sounds like a feature not a bug. You have to get the heat out of the system somehow if you ever want to be able to extract power.
 

Dragon029

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As far as I'm aware:

sublight is back said:
Dragon029 said:
As far as I'm aware, Lockheed won't need such materials, simply because, despite having ~10x hotter plasma than ITER, the Lockheed reactor is meant to be far more successful in keeping the plasma contained, which in turn means that you won't have as much convective heating on the casing.
Say what? The hot plasma is contained in a magnetic field which does absolutely nothing to shield the heat from reaching the outer container.
As you'd be well aware, heat comes in different forms. I'm well aware that the magnetic field would do nothing to keep radiative heat from reaching the outer container; what it would do however is reduce the rate / chance of the plasma ions themselves coming up and directly conducting heat to the reactor wall. In conventional toroidal reactors like ITER and JET, the net magnetic field that holds the plasma away from the walls weakens as you get closer to the wall. In the Lockheed one, they have field lines that become stronger as you get closer to the reactor wall. Theoretically then, it should be far harder for the plasma to touch the walls and transfer their energy.

sferrin said:
That sounds like a feature not a bug. You have to get the heat out of the system somehow if you ever want to be able to extract power.
In this case / context it would be a bug; the reason being that you want the plasma (as the fuel) to remain as hot as possible in order to perform fusion. Some of the heat in the form of radiation is absorbed by the reactor walls, but to get more energy than you put in, you want to be absorbing the energetic products of fusion, being high-energy neutrons in the case of the Lockheed design.

It's a tiny bit like a coal or gas power plant; you heat up the coal / gas [deuterium / tritium plasma] to ignite it and use the heat created from the oxidation [fusion] to warm up your heat exchangers, in turn, turning water into steam so that you can turn a turbine.

If your heat exchanger was really conductive of heat, then theoretically (if it was really [as in sci-fi] conductive, really close to the coal and really cold) you might not be able to ignite the coal / gas [create fusion with the plasma] because the energy you're putting into the coal, to be used as activation energy, is instead going straight into the heat exchanger and water. And if you're just doing that (say, with an arcing electrode), you're getting practically no energy out for all the energy you put in.

---

Ideally you want the reactor walls as insulating as possible up until fusion begins to occur in earnest. Then you want them & the heat exchangers at a level of conductivity that allows you to extract as much energy as possible without cooling the plasma below it's required fusion temperatures.

In lieu of some super fancy phase change materials that can pull off such a feat, my understanding is that they more or less "just deal with" the energy being released as photons and then partly control the conductivity of the system by varying the fuel amount, the temperature and the magnetic field strength to control the convection of the plasma and neutrons produced.
 

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Hmmm so how we can extract usable power from this reactor ? Does it differs significantly from conventional nuclear power plant ?
 

blackkite

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If size of a nuclear fusion reactor is small, the energy drain from the vacuum vessel become big rate compared with the energy which the plasma in a vacuum vessel holds.
It is defined as plasma confinement time with the value which divide the possession energy of the whole plasma in a vacuum vessel by outflow energy per unit time from a vacuum vessel, and has a unit of time.
The conditions of self-ignition which nuclear fusion maintains continuously need to make the value by multiplication of temperature of plasma, the density of plasma, and the plasma confinement time larger than the value called the Lawson criterion.
It becomes advantageous to making a fusion reaction continue, so that size of a nuclear fusion reactor is enlarged.

In the case of Lockheed Martin's nuclear fusion reactor, which value is large? Temperature, density or confinement time?
 

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Dragon029

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Obviously not too much is known about the specs of the Lockheed model, but it has been mentioned (I'm not sure if it was by Lockheed themselves) that the plasma in its reactor was meant to reach approximately 1 billion degrees, which is large (~7-10x) compared to other reactors (JET, ITER). That said, the Lockheed design is also meant to be more stable, which suggests that it could also be more successful in operating with a longer than usual confinement time.
 

blackkite

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Hmmm......High temperature. Most difficult problem. The divertor and the first wall of blanket of vaccume vessel material are the big problem.

Divertor
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divertor

Blanket
http://www.iter-industry.ch/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Pr__sentation_Poitevin.pdf
 

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Dragon029

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I'm actually not sure how the divertor is meant to work on this reactor.

Here's a diagram of the Lockheed system though:





Also I did a Google search and I wasn't able to find any source that attributed the billion degrees figure to Lockheed; rather, the figure just seems to come from general statements like "The plasma consists of hydrogen atoms that, when heated to billions of degrees, fuse together", without really any connotations / implications that this is unique to the Lockheed CFR. Maybe it is designed to run much hotter than ITER, JET, etc, but I feel like the billions of degrees quote was probably made in light of this experiment.
 

blackkite

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Thanks a lot. Very difficult for me. No divertor? Stable plasma? Tokamak reactor is very hard to maintain stable plasma.
I understand that the Lockheed-Martin fusion reactor is a some kind of magnetic confinement reactor same as Tokamak.
Neutral beam injection plasma heating is same as Tokamak.

Plasma is in the state to which the electron besides a nucleus and a nucleus became scattering according to the high temperature state.
The nucleus of deuteriumheavy hydrogen which is the fuel of nuclear fusion consists of one proton and one neutron.
The nucleus of tritium consists of one proton and two neutrons.
The nucleus of the helium which the nucleus of deuteriumheavy hydrogen and tritium unites and consists of two protons and two neutrons by a fusion reaction is formed.
One surplus neutron and the nuclear fusion energy of 14MeV are released.
Since a fusion reaction unites the protons which have a positive electric charge, you have to overcome and unite it with rebounding by coulomb force.
Therefore, the plasma of high temperature, high density, and long confinement time is made, and there is an important point to maintain.
This is a reason which a nuclear fusion generation furnace cannot realize easily.
In a nuclear fusion reactor, tritium is manufactured from the lithium filled up with nuclear fusion energy in the blanket in a vacuum vessel, and it generates electricity by generating steam.
Since a vacuum vessel is radioactivated of the neutron emitted by the fusion reaction, it is not perfect clean energy.
Although a neutron is not emitted in the fusion reaction of deuteriumheavy hydrogen, a severer plasma condition is needed and realization is more difficult.
 

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I'm not sure what the field lines are meant to look like, but from what I gather, they should be something roughly like this:



Blue circles / rings are the superconducting electromagnets, arrows indicate magnetic fields / approximate flow lines. I'm betting (now that I've taken the time to think about it and draw this up) that the divertors would be at the ends of the reactor.

One thing I really wasn't sure about though was the ring around the center of the reactor, as, as far as I can see, anything it does would cause asymmetry. Perhaps it's designed to be off at a default and vary strength / polarity to counter any instabilities or to 'tune' the reaction.

I'm also rather not sure how this design is meant to be more stable than something like a tokamak either; perhaps that's only really referring to the plasma at the time of fusion or something. Either way, obviously these guys at Skunk Works have a far better idea of what they're doing than I do; I can't wait to see how they go over the next few years.

That said, the 3D cutaway they showed won't be how the final reactor looks, so you could expect it to become more complex in the next few years.
 

blackkite

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I think that plasma confinement time of Lockeed-Martine fusion reactor must be very small value, because it's size is very small.
So plasma temperature and plasma density must be large value. I can't see the fuel supply/generation system and the helium exhaust system of this reactor.

Plasma consists of a nucleus electrified in the positive electric charge, and an electron electrified into the negative electron.
Charged particles, such as a nucleus and an electron, have the character which coils around a line of magnetic force.
Therefore, plasma is confined into a vacuum vessel, without plasma touching a vacuum vessel by making the line of magnetic force closed with the magnet.
If plasma will contact a vacuum vessel, the wall of a vacuum vessel will melt in an instant, it will enter into plasma, and plasma will disappear.
Plasma is very weak to impurities.
It has continued being said from the far past that a nuclear fusion electricity generation is realized immediately.
However, I think that it is in a situation still far from realization.
Anyway to realize fusion rector is very very hard!!!

https://www.euro-fusion.org/fusion/spot-on-jet-operations/maintaining-the-plasma/plasma-edge/

https://www.iter.org/mach/magnets

In the case of a tokamak nuclear fusion reactor, plasma is not stabilized with the line of magnetic force of a doughnut form.
In accordance with the shaft orientations of a doughnut form, it is necessary to twist a line of magnetic force.
Then, plasma is stabilized.
In order to twist a line of magnetic force, it is necessary to send current in plasma.
Along with a doughnut,some magnets are installed in the outside of a vacuum vessel, and current is sent in plasma by the electromagnetic induction by continuing making the current sent through the magnet increase.
The current which a magnet sends cannot make it increase boundlessly.
Therefore, the tokamak nuclear fusion reactor cannot perform continuous operation.
Only intermittent operation can be performed.
This is a serious fault of a tokamak nuclear fusion reactor.
The magnet which makes the line of magnetic force of a doughnut form is called a toroidal coil, and the magnet which twists a line of magnetic force is called a poroidal coil.
In ITER, since these coils generate a strong magnetic field and would like to send high current, it is a superconducting magnet altogether.
The plasma current generated with a poroidal coil also has the purpose of heating plasma, by resistance heating.
In the case of a stellarator type nuclear fusion reactor, the magnetic form itself is twisted continuously and the line of magnetic force twisted automatically can do.
Therefore, it can run continuously theoretically.
However, the form of a vacuum vessel and magnetic form become complicated fearfully.
 

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I'm shocked at the time frame they are talking about but given the latest EMC2 data and their confidence added to LM money I guess they could be on to something.

I'll be very interested to see if it differs significantly from the wiffle ball design or if they've done something novel. I bet everyone from EMC2 will have wished they spent more money in patent lawyers if LM takes over world wide energy production.
 

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Hi! ITER FUEL SYSTEM.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5hOIjDsuJs
 

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http://www.physics-astronomy.com/2015/02/lockheed-martins-new-compact-fusion.html#.VPZhQWd0ysf
 

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http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/03/general-atomics-and-us-research-labs.html
 

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I'd be curious to know whether this is only relevant to large tokamak style devices or if it has application for small scale modular reactors like the LM or emc2 models.

Lots of nuts being cracked, I don't think it'll be a never ending story though, one day someone will just announce that they have achieved better than 100% return and it'll just be a case of refinements.

I really think the snake scale fusion reactors that produce electricity directly will be the future if they cab get them to work. I now people are working hard on the problem but getting electricity out of a laser fusion device is never going to be as straightforward.

If I Didn't think that US equities were cruising for a bruising I'd be buying LM with everything I had spare. Whatever you think of the way they do business you know they will persue and monetize the hell out of it if they see an opportunity. Could be the buy of the century.
 

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http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/08/lockheed-martin-compact-fusion-reactor.html
 

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Looks like Lockheed is still putting money into this. I really hope they aren't fooling themselves but time will tell.

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/innovation/2016/05/03/lockheed-nuclear-fusion-generator-investment/83870398/

"Rob Weiss told an audience at the Atlantic Council that Lockheed is “about four months into a little bit more significant investment” into the technology, which was first revealed around two years ago."

“This is a great example of one of our creative engineers who was very focused on solving this obviously critical national security level issue, and we are, again, making the appropriate amount of investment today,” Weiss said. “It’s basically at this stage we are increasing the temperature at which the fusion could occur, and our process for containing the reaction, and we will continue to elevate the level of the temperature and testing the containment theory.”

Weiss also confirmed the team has achieved “initial plasma,” an important early step for the reactor.
 

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Sounds like a sales pitch. They're looking for money.

Is this in DoE's area for granting money?

Has anyone seen a program plan for LM's work on this?
 

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The good and bad of IR&D is that schedules can shift without some politician getting into the act but funding is tight and subject to raids from other departments. As long as senior executives think there is net plausibility of success they can continue to keep the core research group intact and working. On the other hand, I’m sure Lockheed wouldn’t mind turning the project over to government funding as long as they remain prime contractor. There are a variety of independent fusion research groups working on shoestring budgets and crowd sourcing. The ITER program has sucked up all government funding so Lockheed is probably on its own.
 

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NeilChapman said:
Sounds like a sales pitch. They're looking for money.

Is this in DoE's area for granting money?

Has anyone seen a program plan for LM's work on this?
The funding they need to run the program is a drop in the bucket thanks to it being a program to develop a portable reactor (rather than a major project like ITER). In an interview somewhere they were saying that what they need are more physicists to join their team, as they only have about a dozen scientists working full time on the project.

As for their plans, they say that their plan is to run a design-build-test generation every year, with the hope being that they can have a prototype (that can presumably achieve [lossy] fusion) in 5 years (as of late 2014; so by 2019 or 2020). They then also hope to have a production unit that generates safe, usable, positive net power another 5 years later (~2025).

http://aviationweek.com/technology/skunk-works-reveals-compact-fusion-reactor-details
 

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God, can you imagine if Lockheed pulled it off? "We've found the solution to Global Warming. Brought to you by the evil MIC." And if they owned the technology (which they appear to do) they'd make Microsoft, Exxon, and GM look like paupers. I think many heads would explode. ;)
 

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Dragon029 said:
NeilChapman said:
Sounds like a sales pitch. They're looking for money.

Is this in DoE's area for granting money?

Has anyone seen a program plan for LM's work on this?
The funding they need to run the program is a drop in the bucket thanks to it being a program to develop a portable reactor (rather than a major project like ITER). In an interview somewhere they were saying that what they need are more physicists to join their team, as they only have about a dozen scientists working full time on the project.

As for their plans, they say that their plan is to run a design-build-test generation every year, with the hope being that they can have a prototype (that can presumably achieve [lossy] fusion) in 5 years (as of late 2014; so by 2019 or 2020). They then also hope to have a production unit that generates safe, usable, positive net power another 5 years later (~2025).

http://aviationweek.com/technology/skunk-works-reveals-compact-fusion-reactor-details
Hopefully they can partner up and get the resources required.

As an aside... Is anyone else not getting their "reply notifications"?
 

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sferrin said:
God, can you imagine if Lockheed pulled it off? "We've found the solution to Global Warming. Brought to you by the evil MIC." And if they owned the technology (which they appear to do) they'd make Microsoft, Exxon, and GM look like paupers. I think many heads would explode. ;)
Just repeating over and over that a defense contractor saved the world would be awesome. Maybe even have a new holiday Lockheed Martin day. ;D
 

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Lockheed compact fusion reactor design about 100 times larger than first plans

There is updated technical information on the Lockheed compact fusion reactor project. It was originally believed that the compact reactor would fit on a large truck. It looked like it might weigh 20 tons. After more engineering and scientific research, the new design requires about 2000 ton reactor that is 7 meters in diameter and 18 meters long. This would be about one third the length of a Dolphin diesel submarine and it would be slightly wider and taller. It would be similar in size to a A5W submarine nuclear fission reactor. We would not know for sure because the A5W size is classified but based on the the size and likely configuration of a nuclear submarine this size estimate is likely.

They have performed simulations. In simulations, plasma confinement is achieved in magnetic wells with self – produced sharp magnetic field boundaries.
• Design closes for 200 MW th reactor, 18 meters long by 7 meters diameter device assuming hybrid gyro – radii sheath and cusp widths and good coil support magnetic shielding.
• Neutral beam heats plasma to ignited state.
• The dominant losses are ion losses through the ring cusps into stalks and axially through the mirror confined sheath.
• Good global curvature gives interchange stability

Lockheed believes they can get better confinement at the cusps than the EMC2 polywell reactor.

Matthew J Moynihan has details on the Lockheed Martin fusion project based on a comprehensive look at available data.

Lockheed believes a design with 15 tesla superconducting magnets could be reduced in size to 200 tons.

Technical results presented on the T4 experiment in 2015 showed a cold, partially ionized plasma with the following parameters: peak electron temperature of 20 Electron volts, 1E16 m−3 electron density, less than 1% ionization fraction and 3 kW of input power. No confinement or fusion reaction rates were presented.

Two theoretical reactor concepts were presented by Tom McGuire in 2015. An ideal configuration weighing 200 metric tons with 1 meter of cryogenic radiation shielding and 15 Tesla Magnets. A conservative configuration weighing 2,000 metric tons, 2 meters of cryogenic radiation shielding, and 5 Tesla magnets was also presented.
 

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phrenzy

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Wood really like an update in this. I know ONR funded sinister toroidal confinement small scale fusion since 2008 wig the guys who presented at Google that I believe moodily became E=mc².

Interestingly we're supposed to have a commercial product from Lockheed around now and the fact that they have gone dark Todd be it's all over our they have credited it and are looking at how best to make this trillion dollar a year project roll out without destroying global energy markets...

Let's hope it's the former, Lockheed is one of the obit ways you can get ready access to fusion exposure, all the other small companies have taken public or private funding...

If anyone has an update on this I'd really appreciate it (something Lockheed in the last 3 months that isn't recycled from earlier presentations)
 

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phrenzy said:
Interestingly we're supposed to have a commercial product from Lockheed around now and the fact that they have gone dark Todd be it's all over our they have credited it and are looking at how best to make this trillion dollar a year project roll out without destroying global energy markets...
Keep in mind that when the story first broke in 2014 they were saying they hoped to have a prototype in 5 years, with a commercial product available another 5 years after that (2024):

http://aviationweek.com/technology/skunk-works-reveals-compact-fusion-reactor-details

The Skunk Works mind-set and “the pace that people work at here is ridiculously fast,” he says. “We would like to get to a prototype in five generations. If we can meet our plan of doing a design-build-test generation every year, that will put us at about five years, and we’ve already shown we can do that in the lab.” The prototype would demonstrate ignition conditions and the ability to run for upward of 10 sec. in a steady state after the injectors, which will be used to ignite the plasma, are turned off. “So it wouldn’t be at full power, like a working concept reactor, but basically just showing that all the physics works,” McGuire says.

An initial production version could follow five years after that. “That will be a much bigger effort,” he says, suggesting that transition to full-scale manufacturing will necessarily involve materials and heat-transfer specialists as well as gas-turbine makers. The early reactors will be designed to generate around 100 MW and fit into transportable units measuring 23 X 43 ft.
With the recent news (as mentioned in posts above) that they're now looking at a design 100x heavier (2000t) and not insignificantly larger, I would imagine that the development cycle will take longer too, due to the additional engineering / manufacturing effort required (I have no idea how large the entire system would be, but they're now saying the core (internal volume?) itself would be about as wide and slightly longer (23 x 59 ft.) than the whole transportable unit they talked in the 2014 quote).
 

sublight is back

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They're racing against the accelerating spread and declining prices of solar panels and wind farms. Time is not on their side. If they already have a classified military version, that will certainly help them get it into ships and other platforms.
 
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