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Antimatter Catalysed Engine

  1. Oct 26, 2009 #1
    the idea for an Antimatter catalyst engine is probably my favorite idea of any propulsion that can be easily attained by a type I civilization. We're a type 0.78 civilization and to build an antimatter beam core engine (an antimatter engine that has a 1:1 matter/antimatter anhialation drive) would require something like 10 micrograms (1,000,000 times more antimatter than is produced annually at both Fermilab and CERN) to achieve interplanetary travel let alone interstellar. An antimatter catalyst engine uses a tiny fraction of that to ignite a fusion/fission reaction to provide propulsion. 140 nanograms (1 microgram = 1000 nanogram) of antimatter (14 times the annual antimatter production now and 1.4 times the production after the modifications to fermilab) would enable an a 30 day trip to Mars including the return trip home (not including the amount of time to stay on the planet). Like I said before, todays annual production of antimatter is around 10 nanograms of antimatter. After the new installments to fermilab that should be increased by a factor of 10-100. This modification could allow the first antimatter catalysed microfusion engine to be created in the near future, possibly even by 2050.

    AIMstar (Antimatter ignited microfusion) is a design for an antimatter catalyst engine. ICAN II is another...

    Anyone who has seen the discovery special "Alien Planet" would know that the fictional planet Darwin IV is 6.5 Light years away. The space probe "Von Braun" travels at 37.6 thousand miles per second (around 20% the speed of light) and takes 42 years to reach Darwin IV (traveling at 20% the speed of light from the departure from eath would mean that the Von Braun would take 32 years to reach Darwin IV however 10 years is required for acceleration). The Von Braun spacecraft is powered by an ion drive to attain solar escape velocity and an antimatter catalyst enging to attain 20% light speed.

    Again I suggest to ANYONE who has not seen the discovery special "Alien Planet" to watch it. The link above & below is to the full documantary. It pretty much single handedly created my passion for science. Watch it!

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 26, 2009 #2


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    There are some serious errors in your (or your television's) numbers. A microgram is 1000 nanograms, and with 140 nanograms you'd be lucky if you reach the next gas/petrol station, let alone mars.
  4. Oct 26, 2009 #3
    Ye but the 140 nanos isnt supposed to power the spacecraft, its just designed to ignite the fission reaction that in turn ignites the fusion reaction. And r u sure a nano is 1000 times smaller than a micro? idk I just read that bit off david daling's website. Have to admit it doesnt look that reliable
  5. Oct 26, 2009 #4


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    Why would we want to start a fission/fusion reaction with antimatter? Why not start it the usual way (with high explosives)?
  6. Oct 28, 2009 #5
    Because fission triggers have a minimum size when using implosion to reach critical mass. Antimatter triggering means a more controlled fission/fusion burn with a higher burn-up fraction and thus gets a better exhaust velocity. Plus the actual explosion is smaller and more manageable.

    But a better approach, for getting around the solar system, is Andrews Aerospace's Mini-Mag Orion which doesn't need antimatter. It uses a z-pinch to compress a small fissile charge. To get up to exhaust velocities high enough for interstellar travel, with a large vehicle, then Friedwardt Winteberg's proton-beam ignition system for a deuterium fusion reaction is going to out-perform antimatter fission/fusion unless the means of making antimatter is made more efficient and storage gets around the inherent leakiness of magnetic bottles.
  7. Nov 13, 2009 #6
    Um, I'm pretty sure you could just let in a tiny bit of matter to ignite the antimatter. Isn't that kind of the point?
  8. Nov 13, 2009 #7


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    Just a word on words..

  9. Nov 13, 2009 #8
    The anti-protons annihilating cause implosion of the uranium/deuterium pellet. That causes the fusion reactants to compress, fuse and make lots of neutrons that then fission the uranium. A similar approach - but using explosives for the implosion - is how a lot of fission warheads actually work, getting a better fission fraction by fusing a tiny bit of deuterium/tritium to make lots of nice energetic neutrons.
  10. Nov 13, 2009 #9
    that link has been removed because it violated terms of youtube for copywrite or something. So this is the new link same documentary
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  11. Nov 13, 2009 #10
    First, someone has to think seriously about how to contain 1000 nanograms of antimatter in a bottle. Design an antimatter bottle for 100 microCoulombs of anti-protons. Perhaps an anti-capacitor?. Do not be afraid to use equations.
    Bob S.
  12. Nov 13, 2009 #11
    Large scale antimatter storage will need to be frozen anti-hydrogen suspended by hydrogen's paramagnetism in a strong field. Will need to be cold to minimise any sublimation.
  13. Dec 13, 2009 #12
    man u guys are smart
  14. Dec 14, 2009 #13
    Alien Planet has it all wrong...Giant spaceships are the inventions of cavemen!

    To explore the galaxy realistically requires miilions if not billions of spaceships. How can a civilization build millions of spaceships, you may ask? By looking at a great example of evolution, the insect. Engineering a spaceship the size of a bee with large butterfly wing like solar sails could be done in the numbers required to explore the galaxy. The nanoships have DNA like genes that allow them to build exploration and communications equipment once they land on a planet. The ships are so small that with the right trajectory around the sun the ships could perhaps reach a small percentage of the speed of light. Landing on planets is no problem, again because the ships are so small there is no need for parachutes or rocket engines to land.

    Does anyone know what the amount of thrust a photon produces, I've tried to find info on it but I never found a striaght answer?

    Here's a cheesy site I created along time ago describing a nanobot alien invasion. The flying saucer idea always gets a few eyebrows raised....


    Its a Tripod site so I don't get any money for any of the ads you click on, but I don't have to pay for the site because of the ads.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2009
  15. Mar 1, 2010 #14
    Electromagnetic waves - lots of photons - have momentum. Bounce a lot of them off a perfect reflector and the reaction force is F = 2P/c, where F is the force, P is power of the EM waves and c is the speed of light.

    Photons individually have an energy proportional to Planck's constant, E =h.f ,where h is Planck's constant and f is the photon's frequency i.e. c/λ ,where λ is the wavelength.

    Since h is very small (Planck's constant = 6.626068 × 10-34 m2 kg / s) and typical photon frequencies aren't as high (middle of visible light has a frequency of ~6 x 1014 hz), the energy of individual photons is typically very small, and their thrust even smaller.
  16. Mar 13, 2010 #15


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    dude, you just described how we got here man. *hits j*
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