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Lockheed's compact fusion reactor question

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  1. Apr 1, 2017 #1
    Magnetic mirrors were thought to be a viable solution for fusion power. But then, we found out that most of the plasma would simply escape. Is this right? So, then we realized that this method might not work. So after many years, Lockheed has come up with a similar model.

    NfY67.jpg

    • Lockheeds model is basically a cusp confinement device. It creates null points and the field lines get denser as we move out radially. But along the axis, we have open field lines and plasma can escape along those lines. Now, according to what I read, lockheed uses magnetic coils to create a magnetic mirror effect. Hence, the particles would just get reflected.
    sH80n.png

    But what I don't understand is, didn't we try magnetic mirrors before and learn that they are not the best? Lockheed just added cusps which in my opinion just makes it worse because the plasma can also leak through the cusps and not just through the sides.

    • My question is, what changes in the model did lockheed bring in to make a working model. Did they introduce any other aspects that aid in plasma confinement that I am not aware of? Or is it just this? But wouldn't it most likely fail if there are no new ideas other that the cusps and mirrors involved?
    Thanks
     
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  3. Apr 1, 2017 #2
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
  4. Apr 1, 2017 #3
    Depending on who you ask this isn't an accurate account of history. It is true that tokamaks showed better confinement than mirrors. But the decision to abandon the mirror program was mostly due to massive budget cuts to the fusion program. We didn't abandon the mirror because it was a failed confinement concept. We abandoned the mirror because we didn't have the funds to support two parallel paths of research. We picked the concept that was performing better at that time.

    In fact when the mirror program was cut, we had just completed building an new experiment the Mirror Fusion Test Facility, which among other things had a novel set of magnets designed to help address problems associated with end losses. The mirror program was cut the day the construction of the experiment was completed. We never had a chance to run the experiment.
     
  5. Apr 1, 2017 #4
    So magnetic mirror confinement has not been completely explored? Got it, but then why don't we simply use mirror confinement instead of combining it with cusp confinement? Would there be any advantages?
     
  6. Apr 1, 2017 #5
    We are not building this experiment. Lockheed is building this experiment. I honestly don't know why Lockheed went with this design. I haven't seen anything that convinces me that Lockheed's design is an improvement over traditional cusps or traditional mirrors. There's no experimental evidences that their design is an improvement, and I haven't seen any sort of detailed analysis of the design. But it's Lockheed's money, so they can do with it as they please.

    Cusp's have a couple of interesting properties. Cusp magnetic fields have good curvature which is stabilizing and reduces turbulence. The confinement of a cusp improves at high pressure. However cusps have problems with end losses, and they haven't yet experimentally demonstrated "good" confinement.
     
  7. Apr 1, 2017 #6
    If you listen to that video, they are using computer modelling and they seem to be pretty confident about the basic design. They described some of the issues, like the back side of those interior coils and the supports for those coils - they seem to be as much engineering as science.

    It's also interesting that that video was presented 2 years ago - and they were expecting 1 major design cycle per year.
     
  8. Apr 1, 2017 #7

    mfb

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    The announcement of that cycle is even older (3 years? 4?). And nothing public since then. By their original schedule, they should have a MW-scale reactor and at least think about DT operation close to break-even already. I would expect that they show such a success.
     
  9. Apr 1, 2017 #8

    etudiant

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    No news is rarely good news in a project funded by a government contractor.
    The contractor needs a steady flow of exciting news to keep the money flowing. Elon Musk has written the textbook on the technique and it has allowed SpaceX to emerge as a serious competitor. Here there is only silence. The only other explanation for silence is if the project has been adopted by the black world.
    In this case, that is deeply implausible, so we assume there have been unexpected glitches slowing progress. Hope their funding is still good.
     
  10. Apr 2, 2017 #9
    It's not that implausible. They may have caught the attention of the Navy. China has a major campaign to gather as mush US Nuclear Carrier technology as it can. They have an aggressive carrier-building campaign to put teeth into their universally disputed China Sea claims. So I am sure the US Navy wants first dibs on any nuclear power-plant technology.
     
  11. Apr 2, 2017 #10

    mheslep

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    Attention of the Navy doesn't make the Lockheed project plausible for commercial power. The US Navy keeps tabs on cold fusion for instance. Also, the miltary's interest diverges from the net power production required for commercial success, as they could make use of a propulsion system that used a fuel made by great consumption of energy elsewhere, e.g. tritium or He-3.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the US military had a guy assigned to following the speculative research on FTL travel.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
  12. Apr 2, 2017 #11

    mheslep

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    The US Navy doesnt need first dibs on new nuclear power. It already has a nuclear Navy, the only nuclear Navy. What the US Navy wants is to keep the nuclear Navy status quo. So should everyone else in the west.
     
  13. Apr 2, 2017 #12
    QUOTE="chandrahas, post: 5730695, member: 617909" My question is, what changes in the model did lockheed bring in to make a working model. Did they introduce any other aspects that aid in plasma confinement that I am not aware of? Or is it just this? But wouldn't it most likely fail if there are no new ideas other that the cusps and mirrors involved?

    To answer your question: The feature that Lockheed has added to salvage discredited mirrors and cusps is a heavy dose of the material emitted daily by the male of the cattle species.

    None of the commenters above seem to realize that the Lockheed fusion reactor claim is nothing but a blatant fraud. it is the modern equivalent of the original fusion fraud by Ronald Richter ca. 1950. As Lockheed is a publicly held company, its fraudulent claims ought to be investigated by the S.E.C.
     
  14. Apr 2, 2017 #13

    mfb

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  15. Apr 2, 2017 #14

    mheslep

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    I know, but a dozen nuclear submarines does not make a nuclear Navy that can deploy force across the world. No country outside NATO has any nuclear carriers.

    Im not sure the theoretical fusion benefit is so much greater than fission in place today, but my main point is that some technological advances have negative consequences that come with the positive. I don't want to see a cheaply made large nuclear Navy in the hands of China*, N Korea, Iran.

    *Xi Jinping said of the collapse of the USSR: "nobody was man enough to stand up and resist."
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
  16. Apr 2, 2017 #15

    etudiant

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    Is there any obvious advantage to using the Lockheed fusion reactor concept to power a ship?
    I don't know of any, so doubt that a successful design would revolutionize ship building. Building warships is painfully expensive mostly because they are stuffed with high tech gear. The propulsion component is a relatively cheap segment compared to the sensor suite, the armament and the damage control elements.
    So I'm skeptical of the idea that the project has suddenly gone quiet because it has revolutionary military uses. Occam's razor says it is on the back burner, probably because there were unexpected glitches.
     
  17. Apr 3, 2017 #16
    Primarily the expense and the hazard. According to that video, Lockheed believes that this will be small enough and economic enough to place into other warships and perhaps some military aircraft.
    There are no hazardous substances involved. And, from a safety standpoint, it is impossible for the fusion reactor to run away. If something goes wrong, it just stops.

    When I said that the US Navy would want first dibs, I was referring to this as a potential logistical game-changer for Naval expeditionary deployment - enough to be considered a strategic advantage. So the purpose of the secrecy would simply be to delay it's appearance in the Chinese Navy.

    But I agree, if this technology is developed, it needs to be introduced into the civilian market. It's immediate effect would be to reduce the financial power of the oil exporting nations. In my estimation, that would likely be more effective at promoting US security than a 10-year head-start on the military side.
     
  18. Apr 3, 2017 #17

    mfb

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    We don't know. Even if they manage to make it work, it could cost 30 cent/kWh (random number). No one would want it in the civilian market if it is too expensive.
     
  19. Apr 3, 2017 #18
    I just working with the information provided - mostly in that video presentation. They are avoiding the use of exotic materials. Because of the geometry, the devices can be built in modular sections. The devices are small and portable enough that they can be positioned close to the consumers. The presenter himself described scenarios bearing directly on what he though the costs would be.
     
  20. Apr 3, 2017 #19
    You should be very skeptical of anyone making this claim. Most of the people making this claim are basing the claim off of very crude back of the envelope calculations. But we have 50+ years of experience that shows that these back of the envelope calculations simply don't cut it.

    ITER proves there is a real economic need to shrink the size of a burning fusion reactor. I believe that this has to happen in order for fusion to be viable. I argue that we should explore ways to shrink modern confinement concepts, and we should also reconsider innovative confinement concepts. But this does not mean that we should accept everyones claim that they can build a small fusion reactor. Instead we should force people to back up their extraordinary claims with solid evidence.
     
  21. Apr 4, 2017 #20
    And..... is cusp confinement better than magnetic mirror confinement in any way? And approximately how fast does plasma escape confinement?
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
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