Lockheed Fusion Reactor Coming Sooner Than Later

PALMDALE, Calif. Oct 15, 2014 - The Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) company published a breakthrough in nuclear fusion technology using their new  Compact Fusion reactor (CFR). Lockheed predicts a commercially available platform which can be achieved in as little as ten years and a working prototype in five.

Nuclear fusion occurs when an atomic nuclei such as hydrogen combined to form a final heavier nuclei such as helium. During this "fusing" process, a large amount of thermal energy is released. This thermal energy can be used to operate a boiler which creates steam to turn generator whereby creating electricity. Unlike existing commercial nuclear or fossil power plants where radioactive byproducts or greenouse gases are major concerns to public health, nuclear fusion, if successful, could be the ideal energy source. The benefits are as follows:

  • Clean energy - no greenhouse gases.
  • Virtually limitless fuel available - the deuterium can be distilled from seawater and the tritium can be “bred” in the reactor.
  • No chain reaction - easier to control or stop as compared to current nuclear fission technology.
  • Little or no nuclear waste - the core remains radioactive for only 100 years compared to plutonium 239 a byproduct of nuclear fission waste which remains radioactive for 240,000 years.
  • Very low fuel cost

At present, fusion research goals include the following:

  • Achieve the required temperature to ignite the fusion reaction
  • Keep the plasma together at this temperature long enough to get useful energy of the thermonuclear fusion reaction
  • Obtain more energy from the output than is used to gain ignition temperatures

The challenge for fusion researchers today is creating and containing the extremely hot plasma fuel environment needed to achieve fusion. Currently, the only viable method of containing hot plasma is through Magnetic Confinement by using controllable magnetic fields to keep the super hot plasma from touching container sidewalls.

Lockheed's CFR looks to contain this energy process through a specifically shaped magnetic field and self regulating system which helps to control the ion plasma field that is needed to gain fusion which claims is 90 percent more efficient than other reactors. Lockheed's CFR has the capability to produce 10 times more power and 10 times smaller than traditional nuclear fusion vessels. Early CFRs will be designed to generate around 100 MW and fit into transportable tractor trailer sized units measuring 23 x 43 ft. Enough power to keep 80,000 residential homes in operation.

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