Clean Fusion Power Could Be Feasible by 2017

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Clean Fusion Power Could Be Feasible by 2017

Lockheed Martin's advanced development team is making the prototype for a holy grail of clean energy.

By this point everyone should be pretty familiar with the principles of global warming and greenhouse gases, specifically that there's way too much of both, and their environmental implications threaten us with disaster. It's a big problem that lots of incredibly intelligent people are working to find solutions for, ranging from increased energy efficiency to clean power sources. The holy grail of solutions would be a fusion reactor, a clean energy concept from the 1950s that turns hydrogen into helium, the same process powering our sun. The problem with fusion reactors is that the requirements to produce functioning models are immense, and were considered incredibly unlikely to be practical for another 50 years. At least that was the opinion before an announcement by Skunk Works, the advanced development center at Lockheed Martin. During a Google sponsored talk, Skunk Works' Charles Chase revealed that the team is actually putting together a prototype that's the size of a trailer and could theoretically power a small city. If successful, which he believes it will be, production of operational units could start around 2017, opening the possibility of global power demands being met by 2045.

Those interested should watch the full video to get a better idea of the technology and its implications, but there are a few key points to note. First of all, Lockheed's reactor would generate stable high-temperature plasma using a method that produces no greenhouse gases, creating immense amounts of energy that could be halted safely in the event of an accident or disaster. The unit's size is also very surprising. Initial projections suggested that fusion reactions would need to be the size of at least a city block, while Lockheed's version is practically portable by comparison. Perhaps most importantly, if fusion power works as advertised it could solve the energy crisis within a few decades, and open the door for clean transportation, large-scale water purification, and perhaps even viable space travel.

While we've still got a few years before finding out whether Chase is on the mark, the implications of such a discovery would be enormous. A transition to clean energy wouldn't happen overnight, as I'm sure there are logistics to making it commercially viable, but after decades of hearing about how doomed we all are it's a rather promising announcement. Besides, even if the prototype doesn't work, the very idea that the technology is feasible might be enough for scientists to build on Lockheed's research. After all, between air-based gasoline and tornado-based power plants, this is apparently a promising time for clean energy.

Source: Solve for X, via Dvice

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So how long until big oil buys this out and then buries it to never be seen again?

>Lockheed Martin

So it'll be 20 years late, cost about a hundreds times more money and be worse then what we've got today?

Lockheed Martin has already built these babies

So I have every reason to believe they can build this reactor

Even so it's actually redundant as I have already gone a step further by discovering Topazfusion.

Well if were lucky it works. If we're not, well I hope I'm out of the radius of the fallout zone.

Genocidicles:
So how long until big oil buys this out and then buries it to never be seen again?

depends on if they actually think it will work

Even if they kicked out a working fusion reactor today, we'd still be using petroleum products. Not like we can power cars or make plastics with a fusion reactor.

Genocidicles:
So how long until big oil buys this out and then buries it to never be seen again?

For world changing tech like this?

I'm not sure there is enough monetary funds in the world to buy this should everything actually work. This is bigger than a stupid electric car, this could solve allot of problems worldwide.

Besides the military applications alone would keep this alive, those new rail-guns don't power themselves!

Remember: Any bit of Science predicted to happen more than 2 or 3 years in the future should be given no more hope or enthusiasm than 'That would be nice.'

In 2010 America was meant to have cold fusion. That went well.

Haven't we seen this story before though, with a grand life saving system companies don't want to get behind because they prefer a system where they can dig up oil i.e. every green energy system so far?

Even if this does work, I fear it may not catch on.

Yes; good. Always nice to hear tech progressing. Especially fusion. Because let's be honest, it's pretty damn cool.

DVS BSTrD:
Lockheed Martin has already built these babies
[/spoiler]


So I have every reason to believe they can build this reactor

That fighter in the picture is now called F-35, in case you didnt know.

And like many other aviation projects from Lockheed, it came late and way over budget.

Little Duck:
Haven't we seen this story before though, with a grand life saving system companies don't want to get behind because they prefer a system where they can dig up oil i.e. every green energy system so far?

Yeah, see, people always bring this up, but I just can't bring myself to buy that there isn't a single place in the world where a company realized that selling a truly effective green energy source would make them tons of money and get them a ridiculous amount of great PR. The honest truth why we don't have windmills and solar panels everywhere is that such things are currently not at a point where it's viable to run everything using them.

Fanghawk:
...as I'm sure there are logistics to making it commercially viable...

Which is why it's utter madness for necessary infrastructure to be in the hands of the private sector. Access to energy to power and heat/cool our homes is every bit as necessary as education, roads, water supply, and social security. Let private companies develop technologies like this if they can, but those technologies shouldn't be sold to for-profit energy companies through a half-dozen middlemen jacking up the price, it should be sold to regional government-accountable independent non-profit organisations that are required by law to provide their services to the public at cost and not a penny more. Having the backing of taxpayers when it comes time to upgrade the actual infrastructure with new technologies such as this makes implementing those technologies quickly far more feasible than relying on the profit-hungry private sector.

Falterfire:

Little Duck:
Haven't we seen this story before though, with a grand life saving system companies don't want to get behind because they prefer a system where they can dig up oil i.e. every green energy system so far?

Yeah, see, people always bring this up, but I just can't bring myself to buy that there isn't a single place in the world where a company realized that selling a truly effective green energy source would make them tons of money and get them a ridiculous amount of great PR. The honest truth why we don't have windmills and solar panels everywhere is that such things are currently not at a point where it's viable to run everything using them.

Yeah I can see that. But equally they aren't clamouring to make these new industries work and they can't really say because we haven't got the science when they're more than capable of financing a system that could get said science (my English skills are amazing).

I dunno, I guess I don't understand why people are investing billions into a resource that will run out eventually.

gigastar:

DVS BSTrD:
Lockheed Martin has already built these babies


So I have every reason to believe they can build this reactor

That fighter in the picture is now called F-35, in case you didnt know.

And like many other aviation projects from Lockheed, it came late and way over budget.

So did everyone else's design.
And I'll call it what it IS thankyouverymuch XP

MERICUHH. FUCK YEAH

*ahem*

jokes aside, seems cool, but won't hold my breath until those are being offered world wide to be built.

Man, I'm such a sucker. All anyone needs to do is mention 'can lead to viable space travel' and I am all kinds of on their team.

Genocidicles:
So how long until big oil buys this out and then buries it to never be seen again?

It's made by Lockheed Martin. They're one of the biggest companies in the world, not far off the big oil boys, so I don't think it's quite so easy to be bought out by them.

So wait: do they actually have fusion working? I would assume not, otherwise it would be all over the news, and if they don't then this announcement means nothing!

OutsiderEX:
>Lockheed Martin

So it'll be 20 years late, cost about a hundreds times more money and be worse then what we've got today?

Actually, it's Lockheed-Martin building a fusion reactor, so it will happen sometime in the next century and bankrupt the entire country twice. They build better aircraft (usually, when they're not a trillion dollars over-budget) than they do fusion reactors, they should stick to that.

EDIT:

DVS BSTrD:
So did everyone else's design.
And I'll call it what it IS thankyouverymuch XP

Of course, no military project ever comes in under budget, but the F-35's total pricetag is almost two trillion(!) dollars and growing. Also, those lift fans spend most of their time broken and the only pilots actually allowed to use them are the Lockheed test pilots, it's "too dangerous" for the Navy pilots to fly them yet.

Genocidicles:
So how long until big oil buys this out and then buries it to never be seen again?

They may not need to. Lockheed is mostly in the pockets of Republicans. They may just be developing this so they can own it & bury it.

The competing plane for the F-35 looked a lot more funny.
image

We could use the excess helium from fusion for new blimps.
image

...And people act like the military-industrial complex is a bad thing!

Neat.

Thanks for the headsup.

It's much more promising to have many small 100 MW units spread all over, than to have a few really large units. I do hope they make the required progress in the predicted time frame. We can always use more upsides to our future.

*If* this is real, and *if* they can do it.. the implications are absolutely staggering and terrifying.

The price of oil, coal, and natural gas would drop like a stone, devastating energy resource reliant economies the world over. Wyoming, West Virginia, Texas, and Canada just for starters would become economic basket cases. But that's not the scary part. The scary part is in the middle east, where the devastating effects this would have on their (already fragile) economy would make the unrest we've seen til now look like a birthday party at an old-folks home.

But if we managed to live through that it'd be a hell of an interesting world.

Ralen-Sharr:

Even if they kicked out a working fusion reactor today, we'd still be using petroleum products. Not like we can power cars or make plastics with a fusion reactor.

Well you don't actually need oil to create plastics - they can be made with vegetables and whatnot, but yeh we dont really have an alternate method of personal transportation atm. The problem of Hydrogen powered cars is that Hydrogen is very difficult to extract and so would currently make it a poor choice of fuel.

Zagzag:
So wait: do they actually have fusion working? I would assume not, otherwise it would be all over the news, and if they don't then this announcement means nothing!

Well technically we can already do Hydrogen fusion - its just a matter of harnessing it and making it useful. The amount of power used in the Toroid thing in southern France just to contain the fusion reactions is rather high as is the power needed to maintain the reaction itself and so may not make the net output power very good. If the project in the article can make improve upon this it should be very interesting (I would personally be putting a lot of money into thorium reactors though)

Genocidicles:
So how long until big oil buys this out and then buries it to never be seen again?

Why would they do that? Most of the big oil companies have diversified into renewables and whatnot these days since they know oil wont last forever - they might buy the fusion tech, but they would be using it to make billions of dollars of revenue rather than burying it. Besides most of these fusion projects are carried out by governments - such as the EU one in southern France and I believe the giant laser one in the States is as well, so big oil wouldnt really have an option to buy it out.

It's shit like this that makes me want to be born now and not 89.

I would give up seeing the turn of the millennium, all those 1/1/11, 2/2/22 dates and any other "very few people will ever experience" moments, just so I can have an extra 23 years of future tech. Imagine dieing today, what future stuff are you going to miss? Not to mention future games.

Well you talk all sorts of pretty but you need to put a working concept where your mouth is, tokamak reactors weren't put built by idiots, if your ultimate design works so much better then that is what would be built this very moment.

But hey I would love to be proven wrong and see an actual truck mounted city grade power supply.

I have a very optimistic outlook on technology in general but I'm rather skeptical of this. Fusion have a history of being perpetually "just around the corner" while promising the world. Even his projections for ITER is somewhat overly rosy (matching global demands by 2080).

I mean if this works it would be amazing, it could very well mean an end to extreme poverty, but I remain unconvinced.

CEO Nwabudike Morgan:
Life is merely an orderly decay of energy states, and survival requires the continual discovery of new energy to pump into the system. He who controls the sources of energy controls the means of survival

within 5 years is science talk for, we can kind of see it happen, at some point, you know, eventually, assuming several people have more genius breakthroughs.

colour me skeptical.

but if it is true, IF. Holy shit interstellar space travel batman

p.s. o and everyone thinking oil companies would go out of business, let us not forget plastic, medicine and all the other meriads of refinates that come from oil refinement. The stuff will still be black gold just less likely to run out.

Genocidicles:
So how long until big oil buys this out and then buries it to never be seen again?

These conspiracy theories fail because of the same reason people suggest them... MONEY... Oil might have buy the rights to the designs... but they aren't going to sit on it because it would make them MORE money then selling oil does... they aren't moustache twirlers, they are greedy bastards, which is exactly why they would build them... MONEY

as I'm sure there are logistics to making it commercially viable

Unfortunately, this is probably the one and only requirement for fusion power to become widespread. Necessity be damned.

Would that be the same way we were all meant to have jet-packs and flying cars by now?

Nah, that's a way too optimistic date in my opinion, not that I'm the full blown scientist here. We only had sustainable fusion generation a couple of years ago, expecting that much of a leap is a lot. That said, I think maybe if we double the amount of time, i.e. by 2021, we might be a bit more on the money for getting something like this up and running. In the mean time, lets make the transition from burning hyrdrocarbons over to fuel cells and batteries and work on really cranking those efficiencies up. (Lol, spellcheck says "did you mean inefficiencies?")

I am a bit dubious in that this design is going to do deuterium/tritium fusion. That particular reaction releases 80% of its energy as fast moving neutrons, which interact with the shielding and other equipment to produce radioactive isotopes. Any D/T fusion reactor is going to produce large amounts of low-level radioactive waste in the form of transmuted elements from all the surrounding structure and shielding, as well as losing most of the reaction energy to accelerating these neutrons rather than generating heat that can be captured and used to drive generators. I would be interested to see whether their design could overcome the higher Coulomb barrier of deuterium/helium3 fusion, which releases almost no neutrons at all.

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