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Nuclear Fusion in 4 years promises Lockheed Martin at Solve for X talk.


Pat Gill

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The by now infamous and fiendishly clever Lockheed Martin Skunkworks have recently gone public with a promise of a prototype 100MW Fusion power station within 4 years.

Although in this Solve for X talk Lockheed do not claim to have yet attained fusion I find it perplexing that such a high profile yet secretive company would publicly announce a target date without having some certainty of being able to back up its claims.

Has Human civilisation saved itself at the last minute yet again or is there another explanation for this announcement.

This might be bad news for Eddie O Connor ;)

Until someone figures out a way to manufacture antimatter, fusion is by far the cleanest and most abundant source of power we can hope to harvest. We've known this for a long time, but fusion is hard, and it's expensive to build the giant lasers or toroidal plasma containment systems that are needed to get it to work. By most estimates, we're something like 40 years away from an operational fusion power plant.
"Most estimates" do not, apparently, include research being done at Lockheed Martin's secretive advanced development center, Skunk Works. At Google's Solve For X, Charles Chase describes what his team has been working on: a trailer-sized fusion power plant that turns cheap and plentiful hydrogen (deuterium and tritium) into helium plus enough energy to power a small city. It's safe, it's clean, and Lockheed is promising an operational unit by 2017 with assembly line production to follow, enabling everything from unlimited fresh water to engines that take spacecraft to Mars in one month instead of six.

Lockheed's Skunk Works promises fusion power in four years | DVICE
 

firefly123

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I guarantee we find a big load of sweet crude oil 100ft under the ground the next day :(
 

sic transit

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Given how tricky this is and that they've been at it in Europe and elsewhere for 40 year is this really brave or stupid? I still recall the excitement of Cold Fusion, Cold fusion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

That said it would be great if they can but no matter what size it is the containment and net output are the challenge.
 

Pat Gill

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Odd alright.

If they manage it, they will beat ITER by 3 years.

ITER - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But then, ITER, promises 500MW by 2020. Does Lockheed say how much power they intend to put in to their reactor? As in, what's the power 'profit'.
The presentation was light on specifics but the main pitch seemed to be that their concept could be produced on a production line and the entire plant could be delivered by truck, in fact they claimed that their tech could be scaled fast enough to service the entire global electricity demand before 2050.

Their main technical claim seemed to be a breakthrough in magnetic containment.
 

Nemesiscorporation

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The by now infamous and fiendishly clever Lockheed Martin Skunkworks have recently gone public with a promise of a prototype 100MW Fusion power station within 4 years.

Although in this Solve for X talk Lockheed do not claim to have yet attained fusion I find it perplexing that such a high profile yet secretive company would publicly announce a target date without having some certainty of being able to back up its claims.

Has Human civilisation saved itself at the last minute yet again or is there another explanation for this announcement.

This might be bad news for Eddie O Connor ;)
I await technical details.
 

sic transit

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The presentation was light on specifics but the main pitch seemed to be that their concept could be produced on a production line and the entire plant could be delivered by truck, in fact they claimed that their tech could be scaled fast enough to service the entire global electricity demand before 2050.

Their main technical claim seemed to be a breakthrough in magnetic containment.
That is a huge deal if true.
 

Pat Gill

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Given how tricky this is and that they've been at it in Europe and elsewhere for 40 year is this really brave or stupid? I still recall the excitement of Cold Fusion, Cold fusion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

That said it would be great if they can but no matter what size it is the containment and net output are the challenge.
Thats the puzzling bit, having seen what happened to Pons and Fleichman why would a company the size of Lockheed Martin make this announcement ?
 

cabledude

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I guarantee we find a big load of sweet crude oil 100ft under the ground the next day :(
So what if we do. We'll give it away anyway, because we're Irish. Grand lads.
 

Pat Gill

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I hope thats true. And there are dozens of other applications if they've really cracked this.
One thought that crossed my mind was that Lockheed are essentially an aviation/space company with close links to the US government, could this be an obscure ask for development funds for a fusion spacedrive
 

seabhcan

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One thought that crossed my mind was that Lockheed are essentially an aviation/space company with close links to the US government, could this be an obscure ask for development funds for a fusion spacedrive
If they have something on the cards, I doubt they would need to ask for money. There'd be a queue of investors around the block.

Plenty of military applications for a small fusion reactor. Those fission powered subs and carriers are getting old.
 

cabledude

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Fusion as a generation method is a lot safer than fission.
 

slippy wicket

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I hope thats true. And there are dozens of other applications if they've really cracked this.
Crosses fingers for room temperature superconductors.
 

Pat Gill

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The two are connected of course, it would be a lot easier to do magnetic confinement with high temp superconductors. Keeping your magnets at -200C and your plasma at +15,000,000 C a few cm apart must be hard.
The Lockheed Martin spokesman claimed that as the plasma pressure increased, the containment fields became stronger, the exact opposite of what occurs in the case of a Tokomak design.
 

Samell

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We'll still be burning turf oil, gas and paying a wind power levy due to legally binding contracts for upward only tariff revues and unions refusing to operate new technology. We will still have the 'green levy' to pay no matter how clean and sustainable our power is.
 
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