Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mr Fusion under development at the Skunk Works

Well, it's bigger than the little white appliance on Doc Brown's De Lorean, but it's tiny compared to the ITER machine.  The photo in Aviation Week shows a barrel shaped device, maybe 4 feet in diameter and 10 feet long.  A cut away drawing shows superconducting magnetic coils wrapped around the device to contain the plasma.  The project is being done by Lockheed Martin, presumably on company money.  The project leader, Thomas McGuire, holder of a doctorate from MIT,  acknowledged a debt for some ideas from the Polywell project. 
Lockheed Martin has been in business for 80 years and is a pretty canny company.  They did the Lightning fighter of WWII, the Constellation airliner, the F104 (Chuck Yeager's favorite jet fighter) the cold war U2, the L1011 airliner, the SR71 Blackbird, the F22,  and recently they beat out Boeing for the F-35 project.  They know what they are doing.  They clearly think they can make Mr. Fusion (compact fusion reactor, CFR for short) work.  They are talking prototype in 2019 and production in 2024.
   The CFR project is just getting going.  They don't have any results, no evidence of neutron production, time or temperature achieved.   My electromagnetic field theory is no longer strong enough to even estimate whether their device can achieve fusion, so I am going by Lockheed's reputation.  If they think they can do it, they probably can. 


DCE said...

This is certainly promising. So is polywell fusion, something started by Robert Bussard years ago.

Lockheed has the funding to dig deep on this and I have a felling they'll succeed. If EMC2 (the polywell folks) had that level of funding I dare say they might have already achieved breakeven. In either case I think it would be very neat of either Lockheed or EMC2 showed the others than billions of dollars in funding weren't necessary to make fusion power a reality.

Dstarr said...

According to youngest son, who gets it off the Talk Polywell website, the Navy funding has run out but the project is still there. The Navy funding came with a restriction on publishing much, if anything. That has gone away, and we ought to see some interesting papers from them. They ought to be searching for new funding, which will take salesmanship and some decent lab results. I heard someone at Polywell say a mere $50 million would finance the next step.