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Particle beams in space rockets

  1. Sep 23, 2009 #1
    I'm currently working on a new paper on how to increase the efficiency of space rockets (both in performance speed and power).
    Getting the idea from a simple CRT (Cathode ray tube) and how the beams make an object move in the tube; I came up with this idea to use the same thing in a typical combustion chamber.

    Let's imagine we have an indefinite source of electricity (that's not possible in reality for now). We benefit the same manner as in particle accelerators to create high-energy beams.

    Do you think the annihilation and all that stuff result in a more efficient space rocket?

    In detail (particles get annihilated + the fuel is detonated in a more efficient way + the concentration of high-energy beams makes it possible to force the explosion in a straight line, rather than a classic spherical one that wastes the energy on the rocket body + possibly a higher rate of mass to energy conversion during the combustion).

    Last edited: Sep 24, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 23, 2009 #2
    Hi ARYT-
    It is important to control and maximize the specific thrust: the ratio of the output impulse Fdt (force times delta t) per input energy (joule). Be sure to use the total energy input. Also, there are several problems with antimatter: 1) What container do you use to store a reasonable amount of antimatter? 2) Antimatter annihilation is isotropic, and an antimatter reflector (to get specific directed impulse) is easily ablated, so how do you replace it in space? 3) How do you convert the annihilation energy to useable Fdt efficiently? 4) What is its specific impulse? If a proton and antiproton annihilate (1876 GeV), how much thrust do you get?
    Bob S
    Bob S
  4. Sep 23, 2009 #3


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    I am not sure "all that stuff" is a commonly recognized term in aerospace engineering.
    Are you getting your education from the intertubes?
  5. Sep 24, 2009 #4
    I suppose, I couldn't explain myself that well. By particle accelerator, I don't mean a huge one which creates antimatter and other incontrollable particles. Let’s imagine a huge CRT.
    As far as I know, the direct effect of particles beam on an explosion (or combustion) has never been researched. This surely needs some calculations and theorical studies, but firstly it needs some experiments to give us an initial idea about the exact phenomenon that is taking place.

    Physicsforums is a also a part of "intertubes". I'm not giving an academic speech, by the way.
    And "all that stuff" is actually a physical term, meaning the possible energy resealed from the nuclear reactions during a process of combustion while a high-energy particle beam is concentrated where the fuel detonates (i.e. combustion chamber) and so one (and so one is also a physical term meaning, whether these reactions influence the direction of the mentioned explosion or not).
  6. Sep 24, 2009 #5


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    Fusion is more 'efficient' than fission because the reactants are smaller or less massive and the energy per nucleon in a fusion reaction is greater, and fission produces greater energy per reaction that chemical propulsion. Similar, in annihilation, the reactions produce a lot more energy than fusion. That's the easy part.

    The hard part is taking the easy part and configuring it in a way to turn it into propulsion, because the energies of fission - fusion - annihilation are so great that they produce enormous pressures in large quantities, and we do not have structural materials that can confine such pressures. So we devise ways to dilute the energies from fission - fusion - annihilation and disperse that energy in a working fluid or propellant.

    Electric or EM propulsion systems or concepts have been around since at least the 1940's.
  7. Sep 26, 2009 #6
    Thanks for the reply. Fusion is less likely to be controlled at this time. Actually, we really don't know the consequences of using high-energy particle beams in combustion. It could be fission, fusion or totally something different.

    Now during the process of explosion, we have chemical reactions only. The way that particle beams influence the radial chain reaction is completely unknown to us. We can come up with some ideas and hypothesis, but as long as we don't do an experiment on it, even the initial thoughts cannot be accurate enough.

    To me, this kind of propulsion is not EM propulsion. In the said propulsion, an EM field is responsible for the motion. Here it's a kind of EM combustion.
    I'm thinking of denser fuels (like red oxygen + tetrahydrogen). It's not very logical to assume that particle beams can affect normal fuels like Hydrogen, as there’s no considerable temperature change in a particle accelerator tunnel.

    P.S. This is the only paper I could find about this: Effects of Particle Beams on Explosives by Sharma, J. ; Beard, B. C.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2009
  8. Sep 26, 2009 #7


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    I think, before you do this, that you need to visit a particle accelerator facility first and do a total reality check. In particular, ask about something call the "wall-plug efficiency".

    If I start with my assumption of "infinite source of electricity", then I need to seriously question on why I am not using that infinite source of electricity to directly power my space vehicle, rather than running it through these various inefficient gymnastics to do, in the end, the same thing.

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