Science Lockheed Martin Fusion announcement

MaverickSawyer

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http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/15/us-lockheed-fusion-idUSKCN0I41EM20141015

Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade.

IF this is true, this will be a game changer. However, this IS fusion energy we're talking about here, and they've been promising that it's only a decade away for, what, 50 years?

Going to be watching this with a LOT of interest.
 

RisingFury

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It'd be sweet if it's true, but nuclear fusion is still nuclear fusion. I must say I'm quite a bit skeptical. It's not just the vague "technological breakthrough", it's also their timetable.

A lot of people have been working very hard and blown through a lot of money building fusion reactors. Now they just swoop in and take the cake? It's possible, but I'll wait and see...
 

MaverickSawyer

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It'd be sweet if it's true, but nuclear fusion is still nuclear fusion. I must say I'm quite a bit skeptical. It's not just the vague "technological breakthrough", it's also their timetable.

A lot of people have been working very hard and blown through a lot of money building fusion reactors. Now they just swoop in and take the cake? It's possible, but I'll wait and see...

I'm totally in agreement on that first bit. I'm not taking the news with a grain of salt; I'm taking it with a 25 kg bag! :lol:
 

Andy44

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Skunk Works? Interesting. I knew Lockheed was into lots more than aerospace but I always figured Skunk Works for a strictly airplane/spaceship lab.

Doesn't look like Lockheed Martin is revealing many details, such as what type of fusion this thing is, with regards to fuel type, etc. I am skeptical but eager to read more.
 

Izack

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This sounds like it came out of nowhere. It's like NASA announcing a new breakthrough in marine propulsion.

Though, then again, this is a big player in the military-industrial world, so if anyone has the funding for an until-recently-secret contained portable fusion project, it's them.
 

Urwumpe

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The keyword is "in a decade" - for a company like LMM, that's in the distant future.
 

Andy44

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This sounds like it came out of nowhere.

Actually, if you've been paying attention to the big defense contractors it's not a huge surprise that they're working on energy. Lockheed's energy research has been in the news before, and they are also into a whole lot of other stuff. It's hard to be a big company that stays strictly in aviation, since the market for airplanes and spacecraft is so tight these days, and one big canceled contract can be disastrous for a company that puts all its eggs in that basket.

Without getting too dreamy about it, I'm thinking of all the cool space technology LM is into that could use something like, say, a nice fusion powerplant...
 

jedidia

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Huh, I thought current research is focused on much larger facilities that require giant magnets to contain the nuclear reactions. Even ITER has its share of delays and issues.

That's kind of the point... these projects got the most funding for several reasons. For one, many believe it's the ony possible way. For the other, political and business reasons... Small reactors that can be built anywhere are not in the interest of big energy corporations. They want big, bulky, centralised, expensive reactors, because that gets you more government subsidies and keeps the market clean of small competitors. And the government wants big research projects that employs a lot of people.

There were studies and experiments to achieve fusion on a much smaller scale. Buzzard, for example, wanted a petty 500 million to build a test reactor, after tests on a small scale testing device have shown a net return in energy... for a few microseconds, before the thing fried, of course.
He never got that money, because there was too much scepticism, and because there's economic and political forces that wouldn't like energy to become quite so cheap, ergo no funding.
For a big company it isn't difficult to invest a few hundred million on the side in "silly projects" and skunkworks. It's basically playing lottery. Most of them won't ever return anything, but if one manages to live up to the promise, you strike it big. We might be seeing the results of that here.
Or somebody might have been overenthusiastic. Let's wait and see. If they really have their first test reactor up in a year, and the thing works, I'll be optimistic.
 

fsci123

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I don't believe they are just blowing stream here. It seems they put a lot of effort into the announcement(dubstep video and all). And because they are out for profit they have a lot to loose by pulling a cold fusion trick.
 

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I don't believe they are just blowing stream here. It seems they put a lot of effort into the announcement(dubstep video and all). And because they are out for profit they have a lot to loose by pulling a cold fusion trick.

What they have right now is a major breakthrough... this can mean a lot. We already such major breakthroughs for fusion in the 1970s with the additional clause "if we get the necessary huge funding for a further research project, we could have fusion in ten years" (There are actually scientific studies how much money would have been needed... much more than what was actually spend, but also much less than what we spend for bailing out the wealth of bank managers)
 

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Nah ... let's announce a major breakthrough, outside of the normal science channels; let's give the standard fake timetable; let's make it in the energy sector so that big oil will take notice and buy the technology out thus making it unavailable for eternity.

Breakthrough, with no patent announcement?

Pardon me if I sound somewhat skeptical. Anyone see any news lately on LMM's bottom line or other financial reports?
 

fsci123

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Nah ... let's announce a major breakthrough, outside of the normal science channels; let's give the standard fake timetable; let's make it in the energy sector so that big oil will take notice and buy the technology out thus making it unavailable for eternity.

Breakthrough, with no patent announcement?

Pardon me if I sound somewhat skeptical. Anyone see any news lately on LMM's bottom line or other financial reports?

Yeah... Let's create a fake reactor so the corporations and banksters can hide it and make tons of money off of oil.

A little more implausible than the fusion breakthrough.:rofl:
 

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jedidia

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The video is meh but still worth a look:

Well, it's pretty much the whole fusion hickey-doey people have been repeating for 50 years... Except this time it's from an established company that actually has something to loose by hyping it up too much. So yeah, slight plus for the credibility that they actually do have a workable solution on their hands. We'll find out more in a year, and will know definitely in 5, I guess...

There's only one thing that frustrates me here... The reactors are still too big for flying cars, dammit!
 
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Urwumpe

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Well, it's pretty much the whole fusion hickey-doey people have been repeating for 50 years... Except this time it's from an established company that actually has something to loose by hyping it up too much. So yeah, slight plus for the credibility that they actually do have a workable solution on their hands. We'll find out more in a year, and will know definitely in 5, I guess...

The thing is, that they are not building something new - such a form a fusion reactor was already tried 30 years ago, but suffered from a lot of design issues - like the need to suspend magnets inside the plasma, which greatly reduces plasma temperatures and increases reactor tear & wear.

Still - it was claimed already 30 years ago, that such a design could work. Just not as good as Tokamaks or Stellarator designs. And the magnetic confinement mafia is not standing still, Russians are working on a spherical tokamak design, that should further reduce size of such reactors.
 

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So....supposing they do have something to back the claims and they aren't just presenting us with a neat design that might work, if they get a few billion dollars, I'd love to see fusion powered SSTOs.
I guess the challenge would be implementing fusion as a means of propulsion through the various speeds and layers of the atmospher. ( think maybe fusion-powered jet in the troposphere, then fusion ramjet, and so on? :) ) Perhaps it would be simpler to just make fusion-powered rocket engines and use them throughout the whole flight,
 

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if they get a few billion dollars, I'd love to see fusion powered SSTOs.

The problem is that fusion isn't really the best way to go for the high thrust-to-weight ratios needed to achieve orbit... :shifty:
 

Urwumpe

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The problem is that fusion isn't really the best way to go for the high thrust-to-weight ratios needed to achieve orbit... :shifty:

Well... you should better say: Fusion as we know it.

Otherwise, you might end in the same group as people who claimed that Diesel engines could never be used for powering large ships (because the power to engine size ratio of Diesel engines had been initially very poor).
 
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