Help support WeTheArmed.com by visiting our sponsors.

Author Topic: Here's some good news: Fusion power?  (Read 4233 times)

Coronach

  • WTA Staff
  • Senior Contributor
  • *****
  • Posts: 6791
  • Armorer: Colt 1911, M16, Glock, M&P, Rem 700 & 870

  • Offline
Here's some good news: Fusion power?
« on: October 15, 2014, 09:01:50 pm »
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/15/lockheed-breakthrough-nuclear-fusion-energy?CMP=fb_gu

TLDR: You give the guys at the Skunkworks some free time due to military downsizing, and they get bored and invent functional and practical fusion power.

Mike  :clap

PS Ok, so I'm overstating it slightly, but it's still looks like a massive leap forward.
OhioNot stressed, but I am a carrier.

WeTheArmed.com

  • Advertisement
  • ***

    Plebian

    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 2630

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #1 on: October 16, 2014, 12:07:25 am »
    Yeah, fusion power is only tens years away. It has been for 50+ years. :D
    Oklahoma"If all our problems are solved, we'll find new ones to replace them. If we can't find new ones, we'll make new ones."

    Coronach

    • WTA Staff
    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 6791
    • Armorer: Colt 1911, M16, Glock, M&P, Rem 700 & 870

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #2 on: October 16, 2014, 09:15:31 am »
    Yeah, and the article lists no technical details, so it's hard to evaluate. Still, when Lockmart makes the claim, I listen a lot more carefully than when some egghead I've never heard of makes the claim.
    OhioNot stressed, but I am a carrier.

    Plebian

    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 2630

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #3 on: October 16, 2014, 01:14:09 pm »
    I have some friends at the local university physics lab. That have seen a small amount of technical data on Lockheed reactors. They think they are much closer than any else to a working prototype/might already have one running.

    Supposedly they have used some simple but novel ideas in magnetic containment and field shape.

    If they crack fusion power. It will change the landscape of power production forever.
    Oklahoma"If all our problems are solved, we'll find new ones to replace them. If we can't find new ones, we'll make new ones."

    Adskii

    • Senior Member
    • ***
    • Posts: 843

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #4 on: October 16, 2014, 01:21:23 pm »
    I'm curious as the techniques that they have described were tried and discarded back in the 70s. I'm hoping they have made some sort of breakthrough...

    ksuguy

    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 5011

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #5 on: October 16, 2014, 01:26:44 pm »
    Especially if they can do it in a small reactor.   Nuclear fission, Coal, and Natural Gas power plants are absolutely huge.  If they get this thing as small as they are claiming, it would enable power plants to be built anywhere and cut down on the transmission issues over long distances..
    Kansas

    Mikee5star

    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 2165

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #6 on: October 16, 2014, 04:23:09 pm »
    I have some friends at the local university physics lab. That have seen a small amount of technical data on Lockheed reactors. They think they are much closer than any else to a working prototype/might already have one running.

    Supposedly they have used some simple but novel ideas in magnetic containment and field shape.

    If they crack fusion power. It will change the landscape of power production forever.

    Magnetic containment would be huge leap forward.  But it uses huge continuous amounts of power.  What happens to the containment if you have to shut down the plant for some reason. 

    I like the idea, but it will kill renewable power if it is safe and cheap.
    Alaska

    Plebian

    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 2630

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #7 on: October 16, 2014, 06:05:26 pm »
    Nice thing about fusion is that if containment is lost. It just stops doing anything. It is not like fission where it must be regulated because it happens if you want it to OR not.

    I have limited understanding of the world at the fusion level, but from what I could gather from friends they are using a modified torus magnetic containment shape. Lockheed's novel approach seems to be merging two of these traditional devices pancaked one on top of another to increase pressure and heat it can contain.

    Lockheed has not published any papers on the subject. So it may just be posturing/bragging.
    Oklahoma"If all our problems are solved, we'll find new ones to replace them. If we can't find new ones, we'll make new ones."

    kunkmiester

    • Senior Member
    • ***
    • Posts: 786
    • The Purple One

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #8 on: October 16, 2014, 06:48:07 pm »
    WashingtonEvil is Evil, no matter how small

    Mikee5star

    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 2165

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #9 on: October 16, 2014, 09:51:27 pm »
    Nice thing about fusion is that if containment is lost. It just stops doing anything. It is not like fission where it must be regulated because it happens if you want it to OR not.

    I have limited understanding of the world at the fusion level, but from what I could gather from friends they are using a modified torus magnetic containment shape. Lockheed's novel approach seems to be merging two of these traditional devices pancaked one on top of another to increase pressure and heat it can contain.

    Lockheed has not published any papers on the subject. So it may just be posturing/bragging.

    That is good to hear.

    I have limited knowledge of fusion for sure, and barely any more on fission.  My knowledge of magnetic containment is theoretical from studying mag-lev technology.

    It is a promising energy source, and I hope advancements are being made.  But I doubt we will see it in wide spread use in my lifetime.
    Alaska

    Plebian

    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 2630

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #10 on: October 16, 2014, 11:21:37 pm »
    The basics are for fusion and fission as follows in super simple terms.

    Fusion:  You squish atoms really close together until they fuse into heavier elements. Some of the extra crap that does not go into the new heavier element goes poof into energy(heat/light/various rays/particles). If you stop squishing the fusion stops and all heat production stops. You end up venting something like hot hydrogen/helium, or whatever element you were fusing. So worse case you get venting hydrogen that might burn. Altho it is being used in very tiny amounts in fusion reactors.

    Stars are naturally occurring fusion reactors.   

    Fission: You find naturally occurring elements that are unstable and shooting off particles on their own(radioactive). You purify these elements until you got a mess of unhappy stuff. These elements shoot off enough particles to split the other unhappy neighbors of already said unhappy element. You regulate all this hot action with some rods that absorb the particles from the unhappy elements and stop it getting to its neighbors. If you lose control of regulation. They get all unhappy together and 'meltdown' in a runaway chain reaction. This gets super hot, and does all sorta fun stuff, I.E. Chernobyl.

    These radioactive elements are decaying all the time and giving off heat. This is what keeps the core of the Earth so toasty warm.       
    Oklahoma"If all our problems are solved, we'll find new ones to replace them. If we can't find new ones, we'll make new ones."

    Mikee5star

    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 2165

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #11 on: October 17, 2014, 12:47:34 am »
    Thanks for the quick tutorial.  Physics was a looong time ago.  Damn I need to spend some time with science again.
    Alaska

    RetroGrouch

    • Senior Member
    • ***
    • Posts: 986

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #12 on: October 17, 2014, 05:23:27 pm »
    It's been a few years, but it looks like they are using two toroids stacked on top of each other combined with an electrostatic mirror on each end.  I'd have to see the math or more details of the design to tell much more. 


    I've always thought someone outside of the mainstream of fusion research to crack the problem.  I mean, have you seen the size and complexity of the government / university joint projects?!?


    If they can deliver the size and power they are talking about, it would radically change power generation and transmission world-wide, for the better.


    And I hope it kills renewable energy backed by the government.
    Arizona

    Plebian

    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 2630

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #13 on: October 17, 2014, 05:43:08 pm »
    Well, it would be sorta dumb to continue with 'renewable' power once fusion power is capable. I mean all 'renewable' power is produced by fusion/fission anyway.

    Why buy the milk, when you can go directly to the cow.
    Oklahoma"If all our problems are solved, we'll find new ones to replace them. If we can't find new ones, we'll make new ones."

    Adskii

    • Senior Member
    • ***
    • Posts: 843

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #14 on: October 17, 2014, 06:30:20 pm »
    More like why bother with milk when you can have a portable transfusion machine that provides the nutrients directly to your bloodstream.

    But, I can see this getting tied up in a regulatory committee forever. No way are the powers that be going to allow cheap mass-producible power. Plus, someone will figure out how to weaponize one of these.

    Such a shame too, could you imagine being able to have proper power facilities anywhere on the planet inside of a day? Disaster relief? Need a field hospital so you can handle Ebola before it comes to visit us? Need to go in and light up a small city? A small to medium network of these could plug into the existing grid with minimal modification to what is already in place...

    Electric and Hydrogen cars would actually make sense to use at that point.

    But much much more exciting than that... it would be small enough to put into space. Just imagine using Fusion powered thrust to get moving. Obviously need a supply of fuel, I believe deuterium is the flavor of choice... luckily that is incredibly common, on earth at least (can't you filter it out of seawater?). So while Mars or the moon may not have an inexhaustible supply of fuel, other places like Europa might. 

    Mikee5star

    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 2165

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #15 on: October 17, 2014, 09:18:51 pm »
    I hope this happens and soon.  I live in a town with a independent 70KW power grid, we spend between $15,000 and 20,000 a month on fuel for electricity generation.  Anything that will lower the fuel bill will help keep the town alive. 

    Trust me our city is in the fourth year of dealing with government agencies trying to get approval to get the wind generator grant we have been given to move ahead.  Gov is screwing everything up by the numbers.  We know it won't work the way we want, but something is better than nothing.

    Fusion would be a game changer if small grids could get it.  It would make small grids viable again.  Potential business growth, electric vehicles, cheap heat.  Every drop of fossil fuel gotten rid of would be fantastic, if the replacement fuel was cheaper.  The city here is bulk fuel provider, we sell at cost basically, $5 per gallon.
    Alaska

    Plebian

    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 2630

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #16 on: October 17, 2014, 11:52:42 pm »
    There would be no realistic way to weaponize a fusion reactor. IF you can make a fusion reactor. Then you can for sure make a fusion bomb. It is significantly easier to make the bomb than controlled fusion.

    If you can run your fusion on hydrogen/isotopes. Then it is easy to feed. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. It is literally just floating about in space.

    Oklahoma"If all our problems are solved, we'll find new ones to replace them. If we can't find new ones, we'll make new ones."

    Coronach

    • WTA Staff
    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 6791
    • Armorer: Colt 1911, M16, Glock, M&P, Rem 700 & 870

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #17 on: October 20, 2014, 10:13:51 pm »
    Ideally you can run it on just plain H2, but I'll take what I can get.
    OhioNot stressed, but I am a carrier.

    kunkmiester

    • Senior Member
    • ***
    • Posts: 786
    • The Purple One

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #18 on: October 20, 2014, 11:35:28 pm »
    Hydrogen has three isotopes:
    one proton--protium.
    one proton, one neutron--deuterium.
    one proton, two neutrons--tritium.

    Fusing deuterium and tritium is easiest, it's what the tokomak projects and most plan to "burn," the problem is tritium does not occur in nature.  That means you need to "Breed" it, usually by bombarding lithium with neutrons.  Most reactors state the final design will use liquid lithium for cooling the inner wall, this uses neutrons from the reaction to make the tritium needed, helping with a number of problems.

    A good bit harder is fusing two deuterium ions.  This is ideal, since you don't have to breed any of your fuel.  It's enough harder though that they don't bother with it except that it's cheap enough you can run it as an experiment, and the number of neutrons you get out gives you good ideas of how much fusion you can get.

    I'm not sure where fusing two protium ions falls.  Reactors like Polywell and Focus Fusion have designs that inherently allow running at power levels that should allow them to run another reaction--protium and boron11.  This reaction produces no neutrons(you still get a few because of impurities in fuel that produce those reactions), and the result is all helium ions.  They're positively charged, and by simply flying around they produce electric currents, which can be harnessed to get the power out without using a thermal cycle(steam turbine).  The energy needed is high enough though that only a few people think they can do it.
    WashingtonEvil is Evil, no matter how small

    scarville

    • Armed, Godless Heathen
    • Contributor
    • ****
    • Posts: 1371

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #19 on: October 21, 2014, 09:29:40 am »
    Small stars like Sol primarily fuse two protons (hydrogen nuclei) into deuterium. However this process is slow because the beta plus positron decay of the He nucleus is a relatively rare event.  More common is that the He decays backs into protons.  On the bright side, this means the sun will keep shining for a few billion more years but it also means that to get a lot of energy from fusing H + H -> D means you have to have a big reactor.
    CaliforniaOf course I carry a gun!  It gives me a chance against the sinners and protection from the righteous.

    If you are going through hell then don't stop. Keep going until you find the exit.

    Deer Hunter

    • Senior Contributor
    • *****
    • Posts: 2890

    • Offline
    Re: Here's some good news: Fusion power?
    « Reply #20 on: October 21, 2014, 10:28:19 am »


    That being said, I'm quite intrigued.

    Help support WeTheArmed.com by visiting our sponsors.