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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old February 15 2013, 01:52 AM   #1
sojourner
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Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

Now this is interesting. Watch the attached video. Wish he had mentioned some of the hurdles they have ahead of them. http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/02/new...-lockheed.html
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Old February 15 2013, 02:00 PM   #2
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

I have great expectations for this - there had been nothing new on the fusion power front for some time.
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Old February 15 2013, 05:02 PM   #3
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

Sounds great, but....

Since when has Lockheed been involved with projects like this? It's not exactly their usual field of study, so I'm a little weary of their expertise. Unless they just happened to buy out another company or hire a bunch of people just for this.

Watching the video, I wish the intro guy didn't keep saying "moonshots", because that just confuses things in my mind, given Lockheed's usual projects.
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Old February 15 2013, 06:12 PM   #4
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

^To be fair, it is the Skunkworks. They may have been working on it for 50 years and just now gotten the OK to go public.
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Old February 15 2013, 09:24 PM   #5
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

B.J. wrote: View Post
Sounds great, but....

Since when has Lockheed been involved with projects like this? It's not exactly their usual field of study, so I'm a little weary of their expertise. Unless they just happened to buy out another company or hire a bunch of people just for this.
Quite obviously the only reason a top-secret military aircraft facility would be involved in fusion research is if they were tasked with reverse-engineering the powerplant from a downed alien space ship.

All too easy.
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Old February 16 2013, 12:04 AM   #6
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

gturner wrote: View Post
B.J. wrote: View Post
Sounds great, but....

Since when has Lockheed been involved with projects like this? It's not exactly their usual field of study, so I'm a little weary of their expertise. Unless they just happened to buy out another company or hire a bunch of people just for this.
Quite obviously the only reason a top-secret military aircraft facility would be involved in fusion research is if they were tasked with reverse-engineering the powerplant from a downed alien space ship.

All too easy.
I'm looking at your post and Sojourner's avatar, and there's only one thing that comes to mind:


You're deth-picable!
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Old February 16 2013, 02:51 AM   #7
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

B.J. wrote: View Post
Sounds great, but....

Since when has Lockheed been involved with projects like this? It's not exactly their usual field of study, so I'm a little weary of their expertise. Unless they just happened to buy out another company or hire a bunch of people just for this.
Might the 1993 Martin Marietta contract to manage and operate Sandia be the connection?
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Old February 16 2013, 02:23 PM   #8
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

While I posted about the slow, methodical march to workable commercial fusion before, I always held back posting about the idea that others working in parallel, or innovators with resources might come up with something before my predicted 2030-2050 timeline. 2023 would be nice to say the least.

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Old February 16 2013, 02:54 PM   #9
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

From the little information available, the magnetic containment could be workable (but can it contain plasma at high pressure, and if yes, how much energy will this require?).

Of course, the major problem with this type of fusion generators is how can you heat the fuel to a high enough temperature/pressure. RF is not enough - and no other mechanism was presented.
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Old February 16 2013, 09:08 PM   #10
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

Maybe in 20 years--wait, where have I heard that before?
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Old February 16 2013, 09:18 PM   #11
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

^Actually, if you viewed the video, he said 5 years for a beta unit and 10 for production units. So not quite the same old "fusion in 20 years", shtick.
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Old February 17 2013, 02:04 AM   #12
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

They probably redesigned one of the polywell concepts and added a heat pipe for thermal/energy conversion.
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Old February 17 2013, 09:26 AM   #13
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

Edit_XYZ wrote: View Post
From the little information available, the magnetic containment could be workable (but can it contain plasma at high pressure, and if yes, how much energy will this require?).

Of course, the major problem with this type of fusion generators is how can you heat the fuel to a high enough temperature/pressure. RF is not enough - and no other mechanism was presented.
Other problems are extracting the energy - presumably by absorbing the energy of the neutrons produced - and dealing with neutron-induced defects in the containment vessel and heat exchanger. Is there a more direct way to extract the energy without resorting to heating water and driving a steam turbine? It seems so 19th century.
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Old February 17 2013, 09:50 AM   #14
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

Asbo Zaprudder wrote: View Post
Edit_XYZ wrote: View Post
From the little information available, the magnetic containment could be workable (but can it contain plasma at high pressure, and if yes, how much energy will this require?).

Of course, the major problem with this type of fusion generators is how can you heat the fuel to a high enough temperature/pressure. RF is not enough - and no other mechanism was presented.
Other problems are extracting the energy - presumably by absorbing the energy of the neutrons produced - and dealing with neutron-induced defects in the containment vessel and heat exchanger. Is there a more direct way to extract the energy without resorting to heating water and driving a steam turbine? It seems so 19th century.
The problems you named are eminently solvable.

A steam turbine may sound 19th century; I have no problem with this - make it simple, make it work.

You don't need to reinvent the wheel or make the generator a masterpiece of refinement; you DO need to ignite a fusion reaction and extract more energy out of it than you put in.
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Old February 17 2013, 10:09 AM   #15
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Re: Lockheed-Martin Skunkworks - game changing fusion project!

So using a lithium blanket to absorb the fast neutrons, which as a byproduct would produce tritium to be used as fuel?

I assume that the Skunkworks reactor uses liquid nitrogen-cooled superconducting magnets or have they developed a high-temperature superconductor and not told anyone? I believe the highest known Tc is 138K for copper-oxide based superconductors -- 57K below the sublimation point of dry ice.

ETA: For direct energy conversion that removes the need for a conventional, rotating shaft heat engine, there are thermoelectric, thermionic, and thermophotovoltaic conversion methods, but none are applicable to fast neutrons AFAIK.

http://gcep.stanford.edu/pdfs/UVaodf...P-Workshop.pdf
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