Encouraging: Skunk Works Reveals Compact Fusion Reactor Details

WUWT reader Paul Ostergaard  tips us to this article from Aviation Week and Space Technology – video follows

Lockheed Martin aims to develop compact reactor prototype in five years, production unit in 10

Hidden away in the secret depths of the Skunk Works, a Lockheed Martin research team has been working quietly on a nuclear energy concept they believe has the potential to meet, if not eventually decrease, the world’s insatiable demand for power.

Dubbed the compact fusion reactor (CFR), the device is conceptually safer, cleaner and more powerful than much larger, current nuclear systems that rely on fission, the process of splitting atoms to release energy. Crucially, by being “compact,” Lockheed believes its scalable concept will also be small and practical enough for applications ranging from interplanetary spacecraft and commercial ships to city power stations. It may even revive the concept of large, nuclear-powered aircraft that virtually never require refueling—ideas of which were largely abandoned more than 50 years ago because of the dangers and complexities involved with nuclear fission reactors.

Yet the idea of nuclear fusion, in which atoms combine into more stable forms and release excess energy in the process, is not new. Ever since the 1920s, when it was postulated that fusion powers the stars, scientists have struggled to develop a truly practical means of harnessing this form of energy. Other research institutions, laboratories and companies around the world are also pursuing ideas for fusion power, but none have gone beyond the experimental stage. With just such a “Holy Grail” breakthrough seemingly within its grasp, and to help achieve a potentially paradigm-shifting development in global energy, Lockheed has made public its project with the aim of attracting partners, resources and additional researchers.

Compact%20Fusion%20Reactor%20Diagram_0[1]

Neutrons released from plasma (colored purple) will transfer heat through reactor walls to power turbines. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Although the company released limited information on the CFR in 2013, Lockheed is now providing new details of its invention. Aviation Week was given exclusive access to view the Skunk Works experiment, dubbed “T4,” first hand. Led by Thomas McGuire, an aeronautical engineer in the Skunk Work’s aptly named Revolutionary Technology Programs unit, the current experiments are focused on a containment vessel roughly the size of a business-jet engine. Connected to sensors, injectors, a turbopump to generate an internal vacuum and a huge array of batteries, the stainless steel container seems an unlikely first step toward solving a conundrum that has defeated generations of nuclear physicists—namely finding an effective way to control the fusion reaction.
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266 thoughts on “Encouraging: Skunk Works Reveals Compact Fusion Reactor Details

    • The Greens will find a way to attack it. If necessary they will lie through their teeth, and decalre any refutation of their lies to be a conspiracy, thus reinforcing their case. In their war against The System, any tactic is justified.

      • Agree completely. No one should be under the least illusion that Greens will greet this with anything other than more guilt mongering.

        Modern environmentalism is an Original Sin Religion: “Mankind is cast out of Eden because in our pride and greed we ate from the tree of knowledge. Only by genuflection and deference to the morally superior environmentalists among us can we be saved.”

        People who think that way will have no trouble at all finding reasons to hate fusion power.

        CO2 is more properly the elixir of life yet they’ve managed to establish it as a pollutant.
        Nuclear power has the best safety record of any source of energy yet they’ve managed to get people to see it as a bomb, waiting to go off.
        The NASA moonshots have been condemned as “wasteful Americans leaving their garbage on the moon”.
        The keystone pipeline has been refused meaning oil is carried by more dangerously by rail.
        Fracking has been around for 50 years with no substantial ill effects, yet is now banned wherever liberals rule.

      • “Giving society cheap, abundant energy … would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”
        – Paul Erlich

      • “Giving power and money to Congress is like giving whiskey and car keys to teen-aged boys” – P.J. O’Rourke

  1. I wonder how much the lead time to production could be reduced if the British government (aka tax payer) simply transferred the £8bn a year subsidy currently paid to the renewables energy sector to Lockheed Martin

    As a UK tax payer, it would bring a win win

    First the money would be going to something useful

    Second it might actually have a measurable effect on the planet in 20 years

    • That is probably what LM is hoping for. While I’m a big fan of the idea, I’d prefer that government not fund it … let the private sector take the financial risk. Same for space flight.

  2. Not one mention in the article of whether any prototype has broken even or generated any energy at all.

    I mean, nice concept and all that, but…

    • There’s no prototype. From the Aviation week article:

      The team acknowledges that the project is in its earliest stages, and many key challenges remain before a viable prototype can be built. However, McGuire expects swift progress. The Skunk Works mind-set and “the pace that people work at here is ridiculously fast,” he says. “We would like to get to a prototype in five generations. If we can meet our plan of doing a design-build-test generation every year, that will put us at about five years, and we’ve already shown we can do that in the lab.”

      Ah, the sound of confidence in a new project. Instead of “commercial [hot] fusion power” in 30 years” like it’s been every year for the last 30 years, perhaps the new mantra will be “commercial [hot] fusion in only 5 years.” :-)

      • I concur with Ric Werme’s comment.

        I certainly will not be buying Lockhead’s shares based on the ‘potential’ to build a prototype at some future date.

        Lockhead have a concept as to a possible design for a fusion reactor. Lockhead do not have a plan that has worked out the basic engineering and physics problems (some of which might be show stoppers)
        which is required before constructing a prototype.

        We need to check back if and when the prototype is constructed to get an update.

      • Ric and Eustace, I wrote about this in my forthcoming book, based on last years Solving for X presentation available on YouTube. (Charles Chase of Skunkworks presented).
        The significance is not a working prototype. It is that the T4 experiments have now provided working proof of principle of high beta magnetic confinement, and that has resulted in fundamental patent filings.
        There are still many engineering issues to be resolved. But much over unity energy in to energy out is not one of them. ITER projects 7.5. High beta is at least 20x better than that ( just based on beta 1 versus beta 0.05). Net energy return is a fundamental problem only for the National Ignition Facility (inertial confinement) which is an $8 billion boondoogle all of whose funding should be redirected immediately to this approach.

      • I see no reason to believe this is anything other than hype. This not an area that is undeveloped and you can make those initial great developmental leaps. There are people who have spent 30 years of their professional lives and hundreds of millions of dollars trying to bring a known process to commercial fruition – and none of them claim to be anywhere close. Besides Kelly Johnson’s dead.

      • The people who’ve spent decades working on nuclear fusion know the governments of the world will keep throwing money at them so long as they don’t actually produce a fusion reactor. They have a vested interest in failure, whereas a commercial organisation has a vested interest in success.

        So, while I find this a bit dubious, it seems far more likely to succeed than yet another tax-funded non-reactor.

      • My BS detector pegs at 11 every time the term “Polywell fusion reactor” (used in the article) is mentioned.

        The Navy subsidized this (Polywell) for years without discernible rigorous result. I dug into it quite a bit, and the deeper I went the more hand-wavy and shrill the arguments got.

        But I can still hope. Skunk-works has done some remarkable feats in the past, but we never hear about their boondoggles.

      • I agree completely with Ric Werme’s comment. I have read stories going back to 1960 on how fusion is going to be the fuel of the future- that’s at least 54 years of hype and no results.

        I have a hypothesis on possible technology- if it can be done, nature has done it already long before humans,
        flight- mastered by insects, pterodactyls, birds and bats long before humans,
        interplanetary trips- done by natural collisions- rocks from Mars have been found on earth,
        fission reactors- naturally occurring in Gabon between 1.8 and 1.5 billion years ago.

        The universe HAS produced fusion reactors, but to produce it, nature requires a mass at least 1/8 our sun’s mass- I don’t see it happening on anything as small as a planet

      • Yeh, I agree. They have no idea how far from nuclear fusion they are and, incidently, neither do I or anyone else. Containing a very high plasma is extremely difficult even the sun has a problem.

    • Lockheed: Long on marketing. Short on product delivery.
      The struggling F-35 is their current example, to those who have been paying attention.

      I’ve seen this ‘movie’ several times before, from the same production company.

      • The F-35 problems are not Lockheed’s fault. The primary problem of the F35 is that the Marines insisted on vertical take off. That resulted in heavy vertical fans in the center of the plane which resulted in reduced fuel capacity, and degraded aerodynamics. The plane can’t fly as fast, as far, or turn as quickly as the prospective opponents. It is truly a weapon designed to fight ISIS, which has no air force.

      • JamesM October 16, 2014 at 1:29 am

        No. The F-35 problems are endemic, across the different variants intended for Air Force, Navy, and Marines. They are not unique to just the VTOL variant for the Marines.
        See: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-f-35-is-a-disaster-2014-7?op=1 for a synopsis.

        We are unlikely to get detailed descriptions of the specific issues, as most if not all will be ‘classified’. But it is clear from the descriptions provided by the Air Force spokesman that the problems are not restricted to ‘just the Marine VTOL variant’. If they were, the Air Force would have been quick to clarify that their fighter variant was not impacted.

        The problems areLockheed’s fault. They knew the specification requirements, bid the job at $69 Million per copy, and haven’t delivered a credible aircraft after lengthy delays and cost increases to $160 Million per copy and climbing.

        Mac

      • Oh Lord. F-35 derangement syndrome in the one place I go one the web to get away from it. The only intractable ‘problem’ with the F-35 is that it is the target of a ‘dezinformatsia’ campaign the likes of which I have not seen since the end days of the Cold War. The same techniques being used to promote climate alarm are being used to create a twisted view of the F-35’s development history, cost, and capabilities. I would have thought the regulars here, of all people, would be immune to low-brow Shopenhauer Information cascades.

    • I’ve been watching these claims for 40 years now. I think we should make this clear: FUSION POWER IS THE ENERGY SOURCE WHICH NEVER WAS (see: http://www.proton21.com.ua, and read Walter Grienier’s works on Super Heavy Nucleii and nuclear islands of stability…what he proposes for collapsing stars is REALLY what happens in all stars..we see only results filtered through the vast “outer layers”) and the energy source which is NOT and the ENERGY SOURCE WHICH NEVER WILL BE!

      Alas the discovery of energy producing fusion reactions (Rutheford, Li + Alpha, 1914) and certain mis-interpreted spectral (Xray and Visual) from the sun…and Eddington’s proclaimation in 1932, have
      “fixed” the concept that the Sun is a “fusion” reaction.

      I will swim against the tide here: The sun has at it’s center, a core of super heavy nucleii, which are continuously converting matter to antimatter via deep potential wells..and causing pure E=mc^2 reactions releasing their energy. YES, it is pure GAMMA at about 1 GeV, but the sun’s overall mass shields that, and we never see it.

  3. I hope it’s not just greenwashing. The guy in the video seems to think it’s a long shot. Magnetic bottle fusion has been researched to death. I hope they succeed.

  4. Fusion power has always been 50 years in future. Now it is 5 years. Let’s hope it won’t revert to 50 years.

    • I read about this earlier comment on WUWT. They seem to want experts and their contributions from now on. I hope this works so we can end this co2 fixation once and for all. I am certain some greens will still be opposed due to the negligible amounts of radioactive ‘waste’ (100 years lifespan – shallow sand burial).

      Nuclear fusion is always 30 or 40 years away, but we will get there in the end. Landing a man on the moon seemed difficult 100 years ago. Supersonic aircraft? Smartphones? TV!!!

  5. If Lockheed Martin’s nuclear fusion reactor project pans out as hoped (and I am not saying that it will), it will underscore what I have been saying for some time now: It will be advances in energy generation technologies that will take us forward into a post-fossil fuel world someday. It won’t happen with taxes on CO2 emissions, nor cap-and-trade schemes, nor scientifically faulty climate scare stories and propaganda campaigns. Nor will it happen with solar panels and wind turbines.

    Among other things, it is technological advances and breakthroughs that has ushered in new eras in human history. Witness the rocket engine that ushered in the space age, digital technology that ushered in the information technology and computer era, etc., etc.

    Hopefully someday we will come to understand this better and stop wasting our time, money and efforts on the other means to a post-fossil fuels era.

    • That is absolutely correct. Besides, fusion will not eliminate the need for oil or gas. Their use will be required for the chemical industry and advanced plastics. The hydrocarbon molecule is very versatile and many more uses for it will be found – if anything, it will ultimately produce even more profit than the fuel market.

      • Pyeatte, not only. Airplanes, ag equipment, forestry, mining,… All require liquid fossil fuels. Fusion generated electricity would be great, but not a solution to all problems.

    • +100

      The co2 scare is like the horse manure problem of the late 19th century. They could not imagine cars.

      From Horse Power to Horsepower
      By Eric Morris
      “In 1898, DELEGATES FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE gathered in New York City for the world’s first international urban planning conference. One topic dominated the discussion. It was not housing, land use, economic development, or infrastructure. The delegates were driven to desperation by horse manure.

      The horse was no newcomer on the urban scene. But by the late 1800s, the problem of horse pollution had reached unprecedented heights…….American cities were drowning in horse manure as well as other unpleasant byproducts of the era’s predominant mode of transportation: urine, flies, congestion, carcasses, and traffic accidents…….

      The situation seemed dire. In 1894, the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. One New York prognosticator of the 1890s concluded that by 1930 the horse droppings would rise to Manhattan’s third-story windows. A public health and sanitation crisis of almost unimaginable dimensions loomed…….

      Wet weather turned the streets into swamps and rivers of muck, but dry weather brought little improvement; the manure turned to dust, which was then whipped up by the wind, choking pedestrians and coating buildings. Municipal street cleaning services across the country were woefully inadequate……

      In New York in 1900, 200 persons were killed by horses and horse-drawn vehicles. This contrasts with 344 auto-related fatalities in New York in 2003; given the modern city’s greater population, this means the fatality rate per capita in the horse era was roughly 75 percent higher than today……

      As difficult as it may be to believe for the modern observer, at the time the private automobile was widely hailed as an environmental savior……

      Per vehicle and per mile, it seems highly likely that the environmental problems caused by the horse were far greater than those of the modern car. Horses even contribute to global warming: manure releases methane, a greenhouse gas eight times more potent that CO2…..

      But neither draconian regulations nor disincentives for travel were necessary to fix the horse pollution problem. Human ingenuity and technology (enabled by government, which provided infrastructure and regulations) did the job…”

      PDF [8 pages]

      • The money worse than wasted on Green Energy projects would have been better spent on fusion, even if we still didn’t have any more progress than at present.

      • “at the time the private automobile was widely hailed as an environmental saviour”…… People also forget that Kerosene also “Saved the Whale”…..An irony being, that at this earlier period before Automobiles, that Gasoline/Petrol was a relatively useless by product.

        It’s amazing were technology takes us. One thing leads to another. :)

  6. Yah, wake me up when they achieve ignition. NIF finally has had some good fusion research going on now that they improved the target containment issues, but still hasn’t got positive ignition.

    • No, the tested device is nowhere near ready, at least for anything beyond producing a lot of heat in a lab setting. I think the device they tested last time was closer to ready – it was in a metal container with flanges and bolt holes ready to go into a boiler. The new device had no mounting surfaces, inconel wiring in the open where it was sure to get hotter than that molded into the alumina, and a time consuming method for inserting and replacing the charge. It was, however, a decent unit for the sort or testing done on it.

      My guess is that Industrial Heat redesigned Rossi’s design, and has a completely different design in mind for something can be used in a boiler. Apparently a Hot-Cat has not yet heated water – so quite a ways to go before they have a contraption that can boil water, let alone produce high pressure steam.

      • stuartlarge – the earlier modules were good only for boiling water, they couldn’t handle the temperatures required for high pressure steam. Rossi set those aside while wheels ground on their safety certification and he wound up getting distracted by his “Hot-Cat” which could produce high pressure steam but they haven’t built a boiler for it yet. The “independent” team has studied two models of Hot-Cat tech.

      • 2014 Oct 14:

        Rossi Working Hard to Understand the Physics behind the E-Cat in Light of New Report

        Some of the isotopic changes reported in the testing results have come as a surprise for Rossi and his team and are challenging their theoretical understanding of what is going on in the reaction. Rossi has said that the big surprise for him was the results of reported in the nickel where almost all the isotopes of Nickel to Ni-62. Today on the Journal of Nuclear Physics, he wrote:

        I am studying the results of the test to reconcile the isotopical shifts. I am doing this with a nuclear physicist well known and expert of the matter and stronger than me in advanced mathematics. Perhaps we are approaching the beginning of a percourse to a reconciliation, remaining in the standard model, therefore avoiding dangerous exotic temptations. We want to find at any cost the solution. It is hard, it is not like climbing the Appalachian Mountains, but even the Everest has been climbed, at last. Just working.

        Previously, Rossi had said that the E-Cat reaction can be explained by conventional physics, but the results now seem to be challenging this assumption, although it seems they are working hard to find a way to avoid a conclusion that leaves them outside the standard model.

        If there was fusion then radiation would be expected, likely neutrons. Rossi has done an interesting song-and-dance routine to keep the nuclear regulators away. If there were energetic nuclear reactions then he’s making nuclear reactors and deserves 1000x more scrutiny and regulation. That there is not says he’s told the authorities his devices do not cause nuclear reactions.

        Now it’s revealed Rossi doesn’t know what the heck is happening, it’s not what he said it was. Here in the comments Roger Knights reports Rossi says that 1MW commercial installation, which now suddenly isn’t ready, won’t have visitors for about a year.

        How long does it take for a “hot” irradiated zone to “cool off” a bit, with somewhat-radioactive components surreptitiously replaced with “clean” versions by unknowing workers who dispose of them somewhere forgettable? Perhaps about a year?

    • Don’t perpetuate scams to unsuspecting readers. Rossi is a well known scam artist and his current investment money scam has now been running for several years.

  7. Stand back! (At least 20 km) We’re going to use Science!

    5 years? Well, Skunk Works has a reputation for fast delivery of near impossible projects. Remember project Azorian? Retreaving a Russian sub from 3 miles deep….

  8. This is curious timing, especially for the skunk works, which generally keeps things very quiet because of the nature of their business. The press release at http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2014/october/141015ae_lockheed-martin-pursuing-compact-nucelar-fusion.html says “As they gain confidence and progress technically with each experiment, they will also be searching for partners to help further the technology.”

    Perhaps the announcement and glitzy video was to let potential partners get in very early.

    It’s also curious it’s out about the same time as the new report about Rossi’s & Industrial Heat’s E-Cat. I wouldn’t be surprised if they feel they need to distract energy watchers from the E-Cat and thorium reactor work.

    Ah well, another damn thing to keep one’s eye on. :-)

    • At this point, it is ALL ABOUT MONEY. There is no risk of patent spoiling — they have no PROCESS to keep secret. Lockheed has only announced their “project” and “revealed” what is common knowledge in the field.

      Perhaps, they are trying to beat out Livermore’s National Ignition Facility for investors…

      See this February 22, 2014, “Sci Show” vid (published on YouTube)

      “Net fuel gain” (and that was NOT net from the entire production process; still super-doooper negative ROI — the tiny “gain” was only within the fusion reaction itself): 17 kilojewels.

      Woo-hoo! (NOT).

      They, as Mr. Werme astutely pointed out above, have got the applied science money cart way ahead of the basic science horse.

      Keep on funding the real scientists.

      When they solve COST-EFFECTIVE fusion, THEN, start to build the full-blown, expensive, prototypes.

      Science just isn’t there…. yet.

      HANG IN THERE, YOU GUYS! All you real scientists who just do science because you love it for itself; what you are doing IS adding value. Finding out what does NOT work is essential!

      Enjoy the journey!

      #(:))

      [And those are 12 karat, gold-plated kilojewels too! .mod]

      • Oh, Mod — thanks for the funny correction (blush) — “kiloJOULES”

        … I prefer the other kind myself….

  9. My dad told me many times many years ago not to believe the doomsdayers. They have always been around and probably will be. He strongly believed that technology will come to save us. Maybe he was right. He was told in his small school in the 1930s that in 50 years there would be standing room only in the US.

    • Your dad was right, and will be right.
      • The end is nigh.
      • Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past.
      • Malthus et al
      • Green revolution 1960s – India to starve, UK to be no more.

      Yet there are 7 billion of us. How the heck did we manage to do this? Our hands and fossil fuels. What if they run out? Methane hydrates and unknown unknowns. :>)

      Climate change meant we came down from the trees and onto the savanna. Climate change made us.

  10. Grrr,, again the no need to hurry. We have plenty of coal and gas for quite a while.

    And its not as if CO2 is actually bad for the environment, being as it is the major building block of all plant life.

    We must NEVER allow the atmospheric CO2 level to drop down to the dangerously low levels of the past few hundred thousand years. It needs to be pushed to at least 500ppm and held there.

    • I agree, nature was very, very naughty holding in all that CO2. Mind you I expect on geological time scales all of the sequestered CO2 in fossil fuels will be returned to the atmosphere by natural means. In the meantime we should help things along by helping ourselves to a tiny bit of that stored energy. By tiny bit I am talking only relatively.

      We need energy, the biosphere needs the CO2. Sounds like a classical win-win to me.

  11. Hat’s off if they have actually devised a practical fusion reactor, athough I still am convinced Transatomic Power’s molten salt reactor has achieved a breakthru design of an old concept and can at least do something a fusion reactor cannot do : burn nuclear wastes. It also has unlimited near-zero cost fuels available, so the fusion reactor has no advantage there. It also can load follow, so the fusion reactor has no
    advantage there, either. In fact, it’s not clear about this at all. Another claim I saw for the 100MW fusion reactor was that it is one tenth the size of a conventional reactor. Well, big deal – it produces less than a tenth of the power of a conventional reactor and would therefore, in fact, apparently be considerably larger than a molten salt reactor. The molten salt reactor would be of greater value to reduce and control the nuclear wastes that are out there and which are being produced and will continue to be produced for quite some time. Their description of the road ahead leads me to doubt that they would have anything commerically available anywhere near as soon as Transatomic Power’s molten salt reactors, which have zero technological obstaces to overcome – their reactors have been both designed and costed. They could be built tomorrow. No mention of cost of the fusion reactors and their general arguments are quite misleading, in that they are comparing their reactor to conventional nuclear fission reactors, rather than the molten salt reactors which I am convinced will make all other fission reactors obsolete and which will be their main competition. Therefore I reject most of Lockheed’s arguments, especially their claims about nuclear wastes from fission reactors and dangers of meltdowns, which simply do not exist in molten salt reactors. Lockheed is clearly selling their idea hoping to stir up investments and misleads prospective invesors in doing so. Hopefully their fusion technology contains more logic than their misleading claims do.

  12. Maybe in ten years I can plug a Lockheed reactor into the flux capacitor of my DeLorean & get some good thermometer readings during the Maunder Minimum.

    • They must drop the “C.C” bomb, just as it’s pro forma to emphasize benefiting all mankind rather than making a profit, which, of course, is Lockheed Martin’s mandate from their shareholders. If they had figured out how to finance this without outside investment, they wouldn’t be revealing this, as they have pretty much stated. But since they do need the investment, they are bound to recite the usual mantras. Perfectly normal. Doesn’t mean they really buy into the AGW narrative, they are bound (for now) to pay lip service to it just like Exxon Mobil, BP, and everyone else.

  13. The good old industrial research complex. Where most of the truly great inventions of the last century were developed. Government based research???? Bahhh! Bring back the Bell Labs’ of the world and we would be much better off than we already are.

    this is the example of scientists working toward a practical, commercial goal – in a situation in which their continued employments depends on their performance. What a concept!!!

  14. Peculiar story, the US, Japan, Russia and Europe are working on the (futuristic)fusion project in southern France. It sounds more that there is a lack of research projects on the Lockheed shelf.

    • JJM Gommers: If you mean ITER, it’s a political and bureaucratic boondoggle of Cyclopean proportions. Their projected construction timeline is on the order of decades, and most of the engineering challenges they know they’ll face are still entirely unsolved. ITER has all of the hallmarks of being a functioning fusion reactor second, and a colossal taxpayer-funded make-work project for second-rate scientists first.

  15. Science and Industry, not Government, will provide the clean power that replaces the “hated” fossil fuels. Now if Gore and Mann and all of their wild minded, agenda driven, Government funded followers would just relax everything will work our just fine. My goal in life is to stay alive long enough to enjoy the end of the global warming/climate change scare frenzy and the dawn of the new nuclear age.

      • Right on! If the government had any common sense, it would be putting its funds into this project rather than the ridiculous solar and wind projects it has pissed away so many billions on so far.

      • No Dave…

        If the government had any sense, it wouldn’t be taking our money for any similar purposes in the first place. It would be constraining itself to ensuring equitable rules for all (no favoritism), ensuring property rights by equal and just application of the law, and securing our borders/protecting us from enemies. This is the way that capital finds the most efficient use and enables civilization to progress most rapidly to the benefit of all (especially including the poorest amongst us).

        Until we rid ourselves of the thought that “if only government would direct X rather than Y…” we will be stuck in first gear, or worse, in reverse. Private interests drive progress. Government just gets in the way because there will always be politicians bent on making us all behave a certain way and telling us of all the bogeymen against whom he/she will protect us.

        Bruce

    • Beware the contradictions like this…

      …zero greenhouse gas emissions, no long-lived radioactive waste, a nearly unlimited fuel supply.

      Directly contradicts this…

      Fusion power designs aren’t cheap enough to outperform systems that use fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.

      Regardless of design costs, the “unlimited fuel supply” will soon offset them.

    • Yeah, what Roy said. To wit:

      “Other designs, such as the experimental fusion reactor project that’s currently being built in France – called Iter – have to be much larger than the UW’s because they rely on superconducting coils that circle around the outside of the device to provide a similar magnetic field. When compared with the fusion reactor concept in France, the UW’s is much less expensive – roughly one-tenth the cost of Iter – while producing five times the amount of energy.”

      One-tenth of infinity is still infinity.

  16. I’m a bit surprised L-M is looking for partners. If this was as close to being ready as they say, and the performance was as they claim, then this is a huge gold mine and it’s all theirs. So why look for investors? L-M clearly has the ability to fund a project like this internally…

    • > L-M clearly has the ability to fund a project like this internally…

      Really? How much, in your estimation, will a commercial prototype cost to develop? Take your time …

      • Even if it’s a billion dollars, L-M has access to the money. If it’s what they say, it’s not at the “billion dollar” level but the tens to hundreds of million dollar level. Any expertise they don’t have (say, in power plants) they know contractors who do (like GE). If it’s more than a billion dollars, then it’s not nearly as simple as they say, nor is it as attractive. Something here doesn’t make sense…

      • dean1230 – Where did they call it “simple”? What they did call it was “high risk, high reward”. Working out technical challenges and developing prototypes could easily take a boatload of cash – the F-22 program cost about $1.4 billion per year not including actual aircraft production, and I doubt this is an order of magnitude easier. I’m sure you understand that this isn’t Lockheed’s only R&D project, so if they were to fund this internally, something else would have to wait on outside funds – and as a defense and intelligence contractor they’ve undoubtedly got a lot of stuff where that’s just not an option for security reasons.

      • Back in the 1980s we spent 1.2 Billion dollars at Northrop on the F-20.
        chump change.

        If LM have plans to put this in an aircraft ( dude mentioned that ) then the IR&D or some portion of it
        is an allowable charge and is wrapped into what the government pays them for other programs.

    • LM is a Defense company, which means that someone else pays for the work and they provide the workers. Unlike a commercial company, where one provides a prototype to investors LM provides a plan.

  17. Lets just hope the cooling system is robust and reliable. That much energy confined in that small a space on a mobile transport vehicle suffering a coolant loss and … boom (not nuclear of course, but simply a thermal explosion).

  18. I sure WISH it were true…

    unfortunately, the current (both AC AND DC) REALITY is this:

    Connected to … a huge array of batteries, {this is} an unlikely first step toward solving a conundrum that has defeated generations of nuclear physicists… .”

    BUT, KEEP ON TRYING, O True Scientists of the World!

    It would be sooo COOL (seriously :)).

  19. Wait…

    “nuclear energy concept they believe has the potential to meet, if not eventually decrease, the world’s insatiable demand for power.”

    So if it can’t meet the energy demand it will decrease it? Is there a switch on the side for Generator/Bomb?

    • ” Is there a switch on the side for Generator/Bomb?”

      It doesn’t need a switch for that. It has a processor that decides about that when the need arises.

    • Macroeconomics. If the Supply increases enough, it will outpace Demand. An overabundance of available energy great enough that all our power needs are exceeded would decrease demand. Thus making the cost of electricity dirt cheap.

  20. And let’s be clear the tokamak and laser implosion ignition designs (NIF) are hopelessly complex and far too expensive in design, even if they can achieve break-even power generation, they need a 1000 fold improvement in output:input to be economically viable. Those designs are just big toys.

  21. LPP Fusion in Lawrenceville NJ is a small (5 MW), aneutronic non-tokomak reactor design that envisions direct electromagnetic power generation without turbines and boilers. The device already has met two of three of the Lawson Criteria and is now closing in on the last, plasma density.

    Both “Science” and “Nature” featured LPP in August articles and editorials. This device is on a very short development timeline. By early December they’ll have a very good idea about the viability for near-term breakeven fusion energy.

    http://lawrencevilleplasmaphysics.com/

  22. Amazing, isn’t it? It’s like they’ve said, “ok, we’ve made the video. Now let’s find the most annoying piece of music we can get our hands on, and overlay it on the narrative.” Sheer stupidity. Why oh why are so many videos made with needless music – and truly awful music at that? Never fails to amaze me.

    • Ha ha, brother I am with you 100%! What slays me are the TV commercials with music so loud you cannot hear the sales pitch. I mean, isn’t the idea of the advert to impart information about a product? Half the time I have no idea what the ad was even trying to sell. Wait, I guess that’s by design – I must not be in the target demographic. Never mind.

    • So maybe they should have said something like “We don’t buy into the whole AGW thing, and we don’t believe there is a thing dirty about carbon-based energy, and we feel there is enough fossil fuel to support the world for ever and ever, but we just thought we’d develop this alternative technology anyway, just in case anyone might need it some day, and we need you big investors to offset the enormous tab.” Something like that?

  23. In the diagram, “Neutral Beam Injectors” or “Neutron Beam Injectors”?

    Maybe I can’t understand the simplistic diagram. If it’s all that well understood what is holding up the prototype?

    Seriously, what are the issues that are holding up the prototype?

    • Neutral is correct.
      The plasma in the fusion chamber is of course ionized hydrogen-deuterium. It has a charge which the magnetic rings contain and compress. To force fuel into that reaction, it has to be neutral, i.e. no charge. The magnetic confinement creates heating and ionizes the incoming fuel.

      To my simple mind, it seems it will have to work in cycles of injection, magnetic heating, fusion, and energy release (but very fast). Like a pulse jet engine. I can’t see how a continuous energy out – fuel in flow system could be engineered, without some sort of staging of a flow. like a turbine engine with compressor stages separated from a energy extraction stage(s) I.e something analogous to hot gas turbines. As the outflowing plasma would be charged and moving fast. That fast flow plasma could be routed through a helically expanding plenum, embedded within a stationary magnetic field and a transformer-like Wire wound stator to couple the electrical energy to.

      • Further, I can see how incoming neutrally-charged fuel would be ionized and compressed once the contraption was at ionization operating temperature, one key technical hurdle is how to get it started from a cold-start. Some sort of plasma injector-compression cycle build-up would have to be used to get it started in a slow build up to fusion ignition temperature-pressure and then ramp up to a productive energy output level. I.e. that implies a somewhat long (many minutes to hours) startup phase.

      • In the cartoon diagram, the “neutron absorption to breed fuel” is a clear reference to Lithium-6 neutron capture. For a continous operating system, that 6Li is presumably in some form of gaseous state that feeds into the injection system. Lithium-6 deuteride, a solid at normal temps and pressure, is the stuff in a hydrogen bomb that absorbs fast fission neutrons, creates copious amounts of tritium, which is an even better fusion fuel than deuterium.

      • No, you’d start out with a neutral gas and strike a glow in the chamber as part of the bring up. Doesn’t really matter how you do it but presumably you’d just strike it with a large voltage to generate breakdown. Once you have that you’ve got plenty of ions and electrons that you can inductively couple and push around to ionize fresh, neutral gas.

      • The “batteries” are capacitors, presumably for a “pinch” field, a high power magnetic “compression” that momentarily boosts the density. They don’t appear to even have a bottle made yet. And there are a few materials issues to work out as well…

        No one wants this to work more than I do, being an industry plasma physicist, but there have been a lot of high beta designs that don’t work. I hope that the skunk works has more up their sleeve here than PR.

  24. I’m skeptical.
    Even if it succeeds in production of useful power, all those neutrons will induce radioactivity in the structure of the reactor itself. The TFTR in Princeton back in the ’80’s was a radioactive black hole which had to be sealed off for several years to “cool down” radioactively before it could be safely dismantled. This reactor ran for a total of minutes over its roughly 10 year operational lifespan. Yes, that was minutes.

    Imagine how radioactive a constantly operating neutron emitting fusion reactor will get after months or years of operation.

    • The beauty of fusion is the lack of long lived radionuclides, like a fission reaction produces (as you describe).

      The primary long term radiation effects would arise from the fast neutrons. The gamma and xrays could be contained within a larger shield. The desire would be for the plasma-exiting fast neutrons to be absorbed by a precursor fuel stock, i.e. Lithium 6 (which transmutes to helium and tritium) which is circulating within a zirconium alloy casing. The main reactor casing would almost tainly have to be some high tech zirconium alloy (with some Sn, Cr, or Fe. Zirconium is used in fission reactor fuel rod cladding becasue it has avery low neutron capture cross section. Cooling and heat extraction would be critical design criteria to keep the casing within safe operating temps.

  25. A conspiracy theorist might conclude that they already have a working version in the basement and are just covering their tracks as to why they didn’t go public twenty years ago.

  26. Not holding my breath… although it would be lovely to be wrong. I am curious beyond measure as to why they would announce this, though, at least 5 years before they could possibly build one. That is incredibly stupid as far as the patent is concerned. Indeed, I’m guessing that they are filing the patents today as well as announcing it, because if they don’t they basically just gave them away, especially if somebody else takes their publicly expressed ideas and runs with them.

    rgb

    • Who knows what their patent situation is? But a typical approach would be already to have filed applications directed to the new concepts they’ve revealed, possibly as well at to some others, and then file further applications directed to the solutions to those rubber-meets-the-road problems they haven’t encountered yet but inevitably will as development continues.

      It’s not clear to me that such an approach would be “incredibly stupid,” but I’m open to hearing the reason why it is.

      • Publishing “anything at all” eliminates any chance of an international patent. Publishing the diagram above might well eliminate even the chance at a domestic patent, especially if there is either competition or a patent troll lurking. Sure, they could have some secret up their sleeve that is the key to any hope of success — they’d better have, since magnetic bottles have only been tried forever and forever failed. But if they do, just announcing that they are going to be building a bottle system and that they’re going to make it work lets lots of other folks know that they think it can work, think it to the point where they’re willing to sink serious money into it. This, in turn, makes them enormously vulnerable. In most of these sorts of things it is just the knowledge that a solution exists that matters — the culling of the zillion dead ends that one otherwise has to explore. It seriously increases the probability that somebody else will say “Hmmm, maybe we should take another look at our bottle confinement system that we already have built and played with and see if we can’t discover what has them so excited first…”

        It is interesting, though, that there are so many claims of “fusion is (finally) just around the corner”, from quite disparate groups. It makes one wonder if one or more of them really IS just around the corner from success, and the others are making the best claims that they can in hopes that they can get there too, maybe with a more efficient design, if they can avoid losing funding instantly once the problem is “solved” at an economically efficient level.

        rgb

      • rgb
        Agree on the patents. Thomas John McGuire now has 3 published provisional patents.

        In one embodiment, a fusion reactor includes two internal magnetic coils suspended within an enclosure, a center magnetic coil coaxial with the two internal magnetic coils and located proximate to a midpoint of the enclosure, a plurality of encapsulating magnetic coils coaxial with the internal magnetic coils, and two mirror magnetic coil coaxial with the internal magnetic coils. The fusion reactor is configured to vary electrical currents supplied to the magnetic coils to heat the plasma confined within the magnetic wall. . . .

        In one embodiment, . . .The encapsulating magnetic coils maintain a magnetic wall that prevents plasma within the enclosure from expanding.

        In one embodiment, . . .and one or more cooling lines within each of the internal magnetic coils. The cooling lines carry a coolant and are operable to remove heat from the internal magnetic coils. The one or more encapsulating magnetic coils and the two mirror magnetic coils are coaxial with the internal magnetic coils. The magnetic coils are operable, when supplied with electric currents, to form magnetic fields for confining plasma within the enclosure.

        The key physics statements I saw in the article are:
        Key developments:

        The CFR is expected to have a beta limit ratio of one. “We should be able to go to 100% or beyond,” . . .This crucial difference means that for the same size, the CFR generates more power than a tokamak by a factor of 10. This in turn means, for the same power output, the CFR can be 10 times smaller. The change in scale is a game-changer in terms of producibility and cost, explains McGuire. “It’s one of the reasons we think it is feasible for development and future economics,” he says. “Ten times smaller is the key. inherently stable configuration.” . . .”It includes the high beta configuration, the use of magnetic field lines arranged into linear ring “cusps” to confine the plasma and “the engineering simplicity of an axisymmetric mirror,” he says. The “axisymmetric mirror” is created by positioning zones of high magnetic field near each end of the vessel so that they reflect a significant fraction of plasma particles escaping along the axis of the CFR. “We also have a recirculation that is very similar to a Polywell concept,” . . . ““We would like to get to a prototype in five generations. If we can meet our plan of doing a design-build-test generation every year, that will put us at about five years, and we’ve already shown we can do that in the lab.” The prototype would demonstrate ignition conditions and the ability to run for upward of 10 sec. in a steady state after the injectors, which will be used to ignite the plasma, are turned off. . . . basically just showing that all the physics works,”  . . .The early reactors will be designed to generate around 100 MW and fit into transportable units measuring 23 X 43 ft. “That’s the size we are thinking of now. You could put it on a semi-trailer, similar to a small gas turbine, put it on a pad, hook it up and can be running in a few weeks,” McGuire says.

        “We’re not promising that we have made the jump across the divide. We are being honest about where we are,”

        McGuire says.

      • Whether publishing bars issuance of a patent depends on when the patent application was filed. I would counsel against making judgments about a patent strategy without knowing what the developers have already filed for.

      • “Publishing the diagram above might well eliminate even the chance at a domestic patent, especially if there is either competition or a patent troll lurking. ”

        No. You have a year after first publication to file for a patent. I don’t know if it offers you any protection in the new first to file regime if someone else happens to file your idea after you publish but before you submit your paperwork.

    • If you file for a patent all the details become public. That’s why Coke and Pepsi do not have patents on their formulas. So perhaps there is not need to file at this time and reveal all your hard earned knowledge. But I suspect L-M is simply looking for government money, and lots of it. Why spend your own money if taxpayers will foot the bill.

      • Neil Reynolds
        With thorium, we could have safe nuclear power

        Neil Reynolds

        Special to The Globe and Mail

        ========================

        Wikipedia:

        “Born in Kingston, Ontario in 1940,[1] Reynolds dropped out of high school and became a journalist.[2]”

      • Whoops. I see from Wikipedia that Einstein dropping out is a myth. He just changed schools because he didn’t get along well at the one and wanted to rejoin his family who had moved to Italy.

      • Gamecock October 16, 2014 at 3:16 am
        Please! You are getting your nuclear physics from a high school dropout.

        So is Edward Snowden. So was financier Sir James Goldsmith, who tried to warn Congress about GATT in 1994 and predicted consequences for the US that came true a decade later. Reynolds is a journalist, not a nuclear physicist.

      • Gamecock October 16, 2014 at 11:45 am
        Neil Reynolds
        With thorium, we could have safe nuclear power
        Neil Reynolds
        Special to The Globe and Mail
        ========================

        Wikipedia:
        “Born in Kingston, Ontario in 1940,[1] Reynolds dropped out of high school and became a journalist.[2]“

        You should have read further:

        — city editor of the Toronto Star
        — editor-in-chief of the Kingston Whig-Standard
        — editor-in-chief of the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal and Saint John Times-Globe
        — editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen (Canada’s Washington Post)
        — editor-in-chief of the Vancouver Sun
        — owner, publisher of Diplomat & International Canada
        — editor-at-Large of three daily newspapers owned by Brunswick News Inc
        — columnist for the Report on Business section of the Globe and Mail (Canada’s NYT)

        Died 2012 of cancer at age 72.

    • Gamecock October 16, 2014 at 3:16 am
      Please! You are getting your nuclear physics from a high school dropout

      Edward Snowden was a high school dropout. So was financier Sir James Goldsmith, who tried to warn Congress about GATT in 1994.

      What’s your point? He was a journalist.

      Gamecock October 16, 2014 at 11:45 am
      Neil Reynolds
      With thorium, we could have safe nuclear power
      Neil Reynolds
      Special to The Globe and Mail
      ========================

      Wikipedia:
      “Born in Kingston, Ontario in 1940,[1] Reynolds dropped out of high school and became a journalist.[2]“

      Read further:

      • city editor of the Toronto Star
      • editor-in-chief of the Kingston Whig-Standard
      • editor-in-chief of the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal and Saint John Times-Globe in 1992.
      • editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen (Canada’s Washington Post)
      • editor-in-chief at the Vancouver Sun
      • Owner and publisher of Diplomat & International Canada, a magazine published in Ottawa.
      • editor-at-Large of three daily newspapers owned by Brunswick News Inc, including the Telegraph-Journal and its two sister publications, the Times & Transcript and The Daily Gleaner.
      • columnist for the Report on Business section of the Globe and Mail (Canada’s NYT)
      Died 2012.

      • Reynolds’ nuclear physics is all wrong. He adds to it a giant conspiracy to keep thorium from being used. His report is awful.

        But exactly what would be expected from a high school drop-out.

        My warning, “Please! You are getting your nuclear physics from a high school dropout” was a public service.

  27. Still comes down to the ability to turn water into steam and releasing it into the atmosphere.

    As a heat source, it is ground breaking. However, they are only re-engineering the heat source, not how they turn the turbine. I’m twice as interested in changes in turning the turbine or even a Sci-Fi’ish replacement for turning the turbine.

  28. Tell me again how this is substantively different from one of those stock trading schemes advertised on the radio/tv that will make me (and everybody else) rich? A working prototype is surely the minimum needed.

  29. It isn’t just Lockheed working on the problem. There are several startups doing R&D on small-scale fusion. Some of them are quite well-funded (funding sources include NASA, the Navy, the Canadian government and various VCs), and some include former DOE lab scientists as founders or in senior technical positions. Their approaches are all different. I remain skeptical of all of them until something is clearly demonstrated and replicated, but there is increasing interest in the idea that fusion can be achieved without a gazillion-dollar tokamak or similar equipment. Some names for you to Google:

    Lawrenceville Plasma Physics / Focus Fusion
    General Fusion (funded to the tune of $55 million)
    EMC2 Fusion
    Tri Alpha Energy (very heavily funded, apparently $100 million +)
    Helion Energy
    Muon Fusion / Star Scientific

    I sit on the board of a poorly-funded fusion startup that has its own unique approach with a plausible theoretical foundation based on supersonic collapse of a cavitionally-induced bubble of a specific gas inside a heavy liquid. I’ve always thought that the chances of a commercially viable product resulting from its efforts are low, 5% or less. Even if the theory proves to be sound, it’s a big jump from a lab demo to commercial reality. But the investment required (couple of million or less) to confirm or refute the concept is ridiculously low in comparison to the money that’s been spent on “big fusion” yet all our grant applications are routinely denied, so we’re left trying to garner interest from angel or VC investors . Please note that I am NOT soliciting any sort of investment from anyone here and therefore haven’t included my startup’s name on the list. Every company listed above is a competitor of ours.

    The basic point is that the age of fossil fuels will end only when a technology comes along that can genuinely compete with it on an economic basis, and there are at least glimmers of such tech on the horizon. I agree that fusion’s been 30 years away for 60 years, but I believe that in the next five years or so someone will confirm whether fusion is possible at small scales. The debacle over Cold Fusion crippled research in this field for decades (even though most of these companies are researching “hot” fusion, just at small scales). The way that the mainstream physics community responded to the concept was shameful in many regards and has eerie parallels to the way that climate “scientists” respond to skeptics.

    • it is good that there is at least some funding going to what would have to be the future of energy production.

      i thought skunk works were on the same path as EMC2 company with the fusor design being the starting point and the polywell being the last attempt –

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polywell

      it seems the EMC2 company has run into funding problems, and skunk works have changed direction a bit.

  30. wonder of Lockheed is about to go before a budget committee in order to garner funds for research. This could be one of the sales pitches.

    The thing that makes me the most skeptical is that, as someone else mentioned, they are giving press releases about a project that is just in the preliminary stages. Why not wait till they are in the second or third generation design when they will have some hard data to back up the pie-in-the-sky claims.

    Mind you, I’ve long been a fan of the idea of a Nuclear powered train, which this could pull off.

    Not that any such thing would ever get planning permission.

  31. Thanks to Lockheed, this announcement may very well push the other countries Like Japan. South Korea, Israel, Eurozone and Russia to also “go public” with their advances. Let the race begin – rock on fusion…

  32. A report on testing of the e-cat was released just 5 days ago. The results look quite promising:

    http://www.e-catworld.com/2014/10/08/e-cat-report-released/

    I think due to LENR having made some news of late, then it comes down to squeaky wheels looking to grab funding for hot fusion vs that of cold fusion.

    Rossi claims that a 1 MW plant is at a customer site now and will be operation soon.

    The simple issue is LENR does seem to work – it just a question of how close such a technology is to commercialization.

    While HOT fusion is not able to produce more energy in then out (at least practically), it looks that LENR likely will win this race, and do so with much less effort and funding.

    Regards,
    Albert k

    • http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-03/acs-fr031709.php

      SALT LAKE CITY, March 23, 2009 — Researchers are reporting compelling new scientific evidence for the existence of low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR), the process once called “cold fusion” that may promise a new source of energy. One group of scientists, for instance, describes what it terms the first clear visual evidence that LENR devices can produce neutrons, subatomic particles that scientists view as tell-tale signs that nuclear reactions are occurring…

      Low-energy nuclear reactions could potentially provide 21st Century society a limitless and environmentally-clean energy source for generating electricity, researchers say. The report, which injects new life into this controversial field, will be presented here today at the American Chemical Society’s 237th National Meeting. It is among 30 papers on the topic that will be presented during a four-day symposium, “New Energy Technology,” March 22-25, in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the first description of cold fusion.

      “Our finding is very significant,” says study co-author and analytical chemist Pamela Mosier-Boss, Ph.D., of the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) in San Diego, Calif. “To our knowledge, this is the first scientific report of the production of highly energetic neutrons from an LENR device.”

      In the new study, Mosier-Boss and colleagues inserted an electrode composed of nickel or gold wire into a solution of palladium chloride mixed with deuterium or “heavy water” in a process called co-deposition. A single atom of deuterium contains one neutron and one proton in its nucleus.

      Researchers passed electric current through the solution, causing a reaction within seconds. The scientists then used a special plastic, CR-39, to capture and track any high-energy particles that may have been emitted during reactions, including any neutrons emitted during the fusion of deuterium atoms.

      At the end of the experiment, they examined the plastic with a microscope and discovered patterns of “triple tracks,” tiny-clusters of three adjacent pits that appear to split apart from a single point. The researchers say that the track marks were made by subatomic particles released when neutrons smashed into the plastic. Importantly, Mosier-Boss and colleagues believe that the neutrons originated in nuclear reactions, perhaps from the combining or fusing deuterium nuclei.

      “People have always asked ‘Where’s the neutrons?'” Mosier-Boss says. “If you have fusion going on, then you have to have neutrons. We now have evidence that there are neutrons present in these LENR reactions.”

      They cited other evidence for nuclear reactions including X-rays, tritium (another form of hydrogen), and excess heat. Meanwhile, Mosier-Boss and colleagues are continuing to explore the phenomenon to get a better understanding of exactly how LENR works, which is key to being able to control it for practical purposes.

      Mosier-Boss points out that the field currently gets very little funding and, despite its promise, researchers can’t predict when, or if, LENR may emerge from the lab with practical applications. The U.S. Department of the Navy and JWK International Corporation in Annandale, Va., funded the study.

    • “Rossi claims that a 1 MW plant is at a customer site now and will be operation soon.”

      About ten days ago Rossi said there were problems and that the customer site wouldn’t be receiving visitors for about a year.

  33. Working practical fusion could bring many wonders , of which the Greens total rejection of it and opposite to it will be one. For them the idea of such a ready power supply is a bit of a nightmare as they know their best hopes of a return to the mythic golden pastoral ‘good old days’ is best served through power shortages and high costs that relying on renewable will bring about.

  34. Suggesting civilian ships and planes should use nuclear reactors is a bit naive in my opinion.

  35. “””””…..Ever since the 1920s, when it was postulated that fusion powers the stars, scientists have struggled to develop a truly practical means of harnessing this form of energy. …..”””””

    Well I beg to differ.

    Gravitation powers the stars; and gravity sucks. So nyet on building a gravitational reactor here on earth. They need to be about 860,000 miles in diameter, if mostly hydrogen.

    So forget gravity, we have no control over huge amounts of mass.

    The strong force and the weak force are both useless, not poking their noses outside the atomic nucleus.

    So that leaves electromagnetism; the Coulomb force; and it doesn’t suck; it pushes. So try pushing an H20 truck up a one in 20 grade, with a piece of rope (maybe made out of gelspun polyethylene GSP).

    These guys are going to keep their hundreds of millions of degrees of ?? nuclear fuel at thousands of atmospheres of pressure, and basically hold them there indefinitely, to squish the ?? fuel atoms together to make ????

    Whoopee ! Well they have to provide a controlled constant supply of ?? fuel atoms, and they also have to get rid of all the ???? garbage effluent, that this thing makes (excuse me; that’s will make.)

    The reaction used by the LL laser at the National ignition facility, uses the D-T fuel cycle which goes like : D+T > 4He + n + 17.6 MeV

    Well we don’t even have any hydrogen mines, let alone any Tritium mines; and not that pesky (n).

    These guys claim their thing is clean. On both counts, it can’t be a D-T process, which I believe is the lowest ignition point reaction

    T-T is even worse, as you get T + T > 4He + 2n + 11.3 MeV.
    So double the fuel unavailability, and double the pesky neutrons, and much less energy yield.

    The D-D looks ok. D + D > T + p + 4.04 MeV

    Plenty of D in the top 1/16th of an inch of water in San Francisco Bay, and you get a tritium, which you could collect and put in your D-T reactor. Good luck with that problem.

    But no nasty (n)s.

    Problem is that the ignition condition is way higher than the D-T reaction, and so far nobody has gotten any usable energy out of that. I think they all have the DTs.

    Well I think I can last another 5 years, maybe even 10. I’ll drink a toast when they fly the first one in a future Boeing Air liner. Well maybe LM will no longer be in the aero-plane business then with this new business.

    Well I’m always hopeful, so I wish them good fortune. If Northrup, can stabilize a B2 flying wing, I’m sure LM can stabilize an EM field indefinitely despite the fact that Earnshaw’s theorem says that is impossible.

    Maybe it takes dark energy to do controlled thermo-nuclear fusion.

    But the energy of the sun, made here on earth; that ain’t going to happen. Because gravity is the weakest force in the universe.

    • Not at all out of your depth. See my post above on fundamental engineering challenges. BTW ITER has the same superconducting magnet challenge, and has over $20 billion of committed government funding. So maybe there are answers that we just don’t ‘get’. And maybe not.

    • Well it’s right there at about maybe 100 K, if you’re lucky, and just a few inches (in their pocket flashlight one) away from the several hundred million K plasma. Wish for a truly remarkable heat trapping material.

      What the hell am I saying ?? We have one already; it’s carbon dioxide !!

    • Once that thing is running, dealing with the waste heat from the SCmagnets is trivial compared to the heating of the reactor vessel. Yes the whole thing need one big robust, reliable, fail safe cooling mechanism.

      • Last I heard SC’s aren’t, at temperatures much above absolute zero.
        So yes, lots of cooling needed, I guess.

  36. I would point out to everyone that practical fusion is an engineering problem not a science problem … the science is done once we created plasma in a lab the science was done … its now an engineering problem … and has been for 30 years … when you want a theory about what you want built go to a scientist … when you want to build it get an engineer …

    thorium reactors are past both the science and the engineering phases … we could have thorium power plants in 5 years time … fusion is a waste of time right now …

    • We’ve been 5 years from thorium power plants for 60 years.

      “thorium reactors are past both the science and the engineering phases”

      Nonsense.

    • Well I guess you don’t know Earnshaw’s theorem either. It says essentially there is no stable configuration of electric charges or magnetic poles.

      You can’t hold hot dense repulsive stuff away from meltable and vaporizable walls indefinitely.

      The science is not done. So they know the reactions that might fuse. Every body knows that, even the Geico gecko.

      • Well, they did make a pretty good fusion reactor called the hydrogen bomb in the 1950s and they used tritium and deuterium. Pretty dramatic proof of concept. So the science is done. The engineering is the business of materials and configurations and technologies. George you are an engineer, so you know this.

      • The first h-bombs used cryogenic hydrogen. Now modern Hbombs designs use lithium6-deuteride jackets around plutonium sparkplugs.

        Modern variable yield fission weapons use a high pressure DT gas injection into the pit moments before detonation to dramatically boost the initial burst of neutrons in the first few shakes. The controversial neutron bomb designs of the 70’s were just essentially very high efficiency super-DT boosted plutonium low yield weapons, that made a humongous pulse of neutrons.

      • Well Gary, The idea is to produce a controlled thermo-nuclear fusion reaction. When I lived in St Louis MO, in the mid 1960s; actually, St Louis County, My house was heated in the winter, by an oil burning furnace.
        When I wanted to produce more thermal energy (“heat”…noun), I simply turned a valve that increased the flow (continuous) of oil fuel, and the reactor produced more heat constantly, with no pulses, or implosions of instability whatever.

        Well actually, I really moved a Temperature set point, and a feedback network did the valve twiddle thing as needed.

        So with controlled fusion energy, the idea is to provide a steady controlled input of “fuel”, and get a steady controlled output of energy. Not bomb that goes off like a fire cracker, and then dies down like a wet match does.

        Now I don’t know; have NO IDEA in fact, just what is in an H-Bomb of any generation. And my interest in knowing any of that, is orders of magnitude less than my actual knowledge, or same.

        I mentioned D-T, because it seems to be fairly well known, that it is maybe the lowest ignition condition fusion reaction.

        I frankly don’t know whether our 600,kV Deuterons, clobbering a heavy ice target, could be called a nuclear fusion reaction or not. I know we got copious neutrons at about 14 MeV, as the field of research was in fact studying the polarization of such beams, both experimentally, and theoretically. We had some totally crazy math whizzes, who were trying to calculate all that stuff.

        But that would be a D-D reaction anyway. You also get high energy protons out of that setup.

        But on your last point; no I am not an engineer; I am a physicist, but I do do engineering, in several fields, but I “engineer” my designs from physical principles, down to the bare metal. And it is NOT the same as “engineering” stuff from a cook book. Now I am NOT putting down engineering or engineers. They likely do more efficient utilization of resources including money, than a physicist based approach might achieve.

        On many of the things I do, I can determine a priori, what is the theoretically best result it is possible to achieve; usually constrained as it happens, by the second law of thermodynamics, and I have patents (now long expired) on products that were manufactured, that actually achieved within spitting distance of those theoretical limits, and engineering usually doesn’t tell you what those limits are.

        Now when you get down to turning a paper design, into “glass and brass” as they say in the optics business, engineering constraints often will determine what is “practical” to achieve, towards those theoretical goals.

        So no; I don’t believe the science is done on nuclear fusion. Now I believe that there is good knowledge of the possible reactions and fuel candidates; and thank you, I would rather not know what those are. But I am not convinced that there is a theoretical path to success, let alone, an engineeringly smart path.

        And on the side, I don’t do “texting”, so what the hell does LENR stand for. I don’t think anywhere in this thread, anyone explains that.

        I guessed low energy nuclear reactions, but what the hell do I know ??

  37. There’s also the Wendelstein 7X in Greifswald, Saxony. Max Planck Society.

    Our Greens try to stop the project via the courts – citing danger of neutrons.

    OF COURSE Greens will fight anything nuclear. What did you think! They are Luddites first, Maoists second.

  38. The blanket will become highly radioactive in time as it stops the various bits and pieces flying off any sustained fusion. That has always been a problem with it. Folks think it is “clean”, but it isn’t. I suspect the problem can be dealt with, but deal with it they will have to.

  39. More promises, only constrained by:
    ..”Connected to sensors, injectors, a turbopump to generate an internal vacuum and a huge array of batteries, the stainless steel container seems an unlikely first step toward solving a conundrum that has defeated generations of nuclear physicists—namely finding an effective way to control the fusion reaction.”

    The ” huge array of batteries” could be a sticking point.

    Nothing new for some:

  40. Transatomic may be a winner. Three or four years for design, then three to five years for NRC approval. Thorium is too far away (though China is shooting for 2020). For fusion, I would look at Lawrenceville Plasma Physics. Small, but a great team. Aneutronic fusion, no neutrons, no radioactive waste. They do not need magnets. They have the temp and confinement time. They are working on plasma density. Their fuel will be hydrogen-boron11. Small units of perhaps five megawatts ( garage size ), very cheap to produce.

  41. Interesting. I have never heard of the Skunk Works advertising anything that wasn’t already successful (i.e., unclassified) or, that they could not do, regardless of how outlandish it seemed. The timing of this ‘announcement’ is interesting. It will certainly be a game changer, if true.

    • Right on! I wish we had these guys working on climate science, too. They know more about the atmosphere, planetary dynamics, the sun, the planets, the radiation, magnetics…..

    • There have been plenty of Skunk Works failures. They just never got past prototype out the black world.

    • At a guess, their usual source of funding has cut or eliminated their funding line item as the project does not offer much/any potential for whatever the hell the Usual Funding Source does to justify its existence. So Lockheed is looking for (an)other sponsor(s). How can you check that possibility? I don’t reckon you or I can.

      IF that is what is going on, then I would expect that:

      The concept is not a sure thing. If it were, the UFS would find money somewhere.
      Neither is it a near sure thing. If it were, Lockheed would have spun it off or sold it to someone.
      But it has some real chance of success. If it didn’t, Lockheed would just shut it down.

      Just Guessing.

  42. A nuclear fusion reactor designed by an aeronautical engineer. How amusing!

    I guess this explains why they haven’t taken into account that they’ll need to get the thing licensed before they can sell it.

    In production in ten years? This story will be good to go back and read for a few laughs ten years from now.

  43. CFR is a great choice for the name, because when it doesn’t work, they can just switch over to calling it the cold fusion reactor.

  44. I don’t believe this guy for a moment. His face is tense, he stutters, his body language says, loud and clear, that they don’t have any positive practical results. The change of his voice, when he talks about military application of the “future reactor,” and his repetition of studied phrases, indicate that they are fishing for more money from Pentagon. It all is so obvious, one doesn’t need to be his fellow con man to see a con here.

  45. Man, I consider myself a sceptic, but I’m not a composting pessimistic naysayer type. Most of you are missing something here. Universities on government grants are one thing and most of the research has been government stuff of this kind with all the failures you cite as evidence that it is a ‘laughable’ enterprise. These types of projects are highly likely to have the same results as their predecessors.

    Lockheed is a private company that has delivered more real engineering than any university or government research agency. They’ll know the problems that need working on and they will get the best to solve the various problems. That they say 5 years, its a gutty reckoning and they know there will be people around to laugh plus the fact they are wagering a lot of their own dough on it. They are also a manufacturing company – no duck tape here. If they say they will make such and such a progress in five years, that is equivalent to the 30-50 years guesses safely made by doddering 9-to-5 (3:00?) institutional researchers – it’s conveniently beyond the beginning of their retirement. No, no academic committee is going to get such a demanding thing off the ground.

    You certainly wouldn’t want to have a government or university build you a supersonic aircraft or a space vehicle that you expected to work, now would you? Have so many of you been infected by the anti free-enterprise virus that has been going around? Lockheed can go out and attract the best for their team and they have a track record of scheduling highly complex projects to completion. I wish their stock wasn’t $180.

    • Maybe, but I pay for most of what they sell.
      Best not to forget that.
      Or should I say, remember that.

    • The Lockheed F-35 is a ‘supersonic fighter’ program, way over budget, way behind schedule, and still not delivering even the basic specification promises. Another Lockheed quagmire at taxpayer expense. And they don’t have any ‘teammates’ on that program, to pull their chestnuts out of the fire for them.

      I’m not a ‘composting naysayer type’ either. But I pay attention to results, not slick marketing that presses all of the current politically correct buttons, where Lockheed is concerned.

  46. Sell Lockheed Martin stock. Now.

    Flaws

    a) Everyone who has attempted to put superconducting magnets closer to the plasma than the neutron-using blanket runs into huge troubles, including inadequate breeding of tritium from Li in the blanket and ridiculous power requirements to pump heat out of 4 K temperature magnets. Superconducting magnets must be as far from the plasma and its neutron source as possible.

    b) This is a mirror machine. I like mirror machines. LLNL put a huge amount of money and incredibly smart people into them. At small scale, and low plasma performance, they were ok. Losses between the two rings were acceptable. The problem is the two ends. Yes, it is possible that LM found a way to “stopper” the ends that LLNL never found despite decades of work, incredibly smart people, complex modeling, and many experiments – but i bet with LLNL and against LM. LLNL had even built a very elaborate mirror machine with more believable stoppers than this cartoon back in the 1980s. It was built and all ready to use, but modeling results showed it would not meet performance and DOE never gave them the money to turn it on. Personally, i think this was one of those idiotic DOE decisions.

    c) To paraphrase Admiral Rickover, the inventory of the US Nuclear Navy, all reactors on paper are cheap, simple, easy to make, reliable. Reactors in the real world are expensive, complex, pose difficult manufacturing challenges, and are challenging to operate. He was talking about fission reactors, but his observation is even more true of fusion.

    d) Even if the physics was totally proven to achieve an energy payback over 10, there is still the minor little problem of engineering and materials. No way is the relevant engineering 10 years away.

    e) If LN management really thinks this is a decade away, they are delusional. Any management that delusional will make other mistakes. Gee, like confusing English and Metric units on the Mars Climate Orbiter.

    • Please correct me if wrong, but it was my impression that that was NASA’s fault, not Lockheed’s.

    • Concur. I did some work with R Post at LLNL 27yr ago on a table top mirror machine, and saw the same. The big machine you are referring to was MFTF-B in bldg 431. The vacuum roughing line was like a meter in diameter for that machine. It would have been fun had they turned it on.

    • No, now we just build our factories in China, train the employees in best practices and let them reverse-engineer our technology.
      No leaks, and profits soar for a bit.

  47. Could you keep the plasma going by turning off the microwave and injecting co2 directly into the container ? http://m.youtube.com/results?q=pasmoid%20in%20a%20microwave&sm=1
    What needs to be done is to create a fission (tare apart) and fusion (put together) reactor. Not one that is big enough to connect to the grid. Rather one that is the size of a shoe box or smaller that will power up or homes . Maybe we can use laser printer tech’s to create cold fusion. Hang on this would be a economic disaster because after purchase we would have free energy and as our former pm John Howard said “nothings for free nore should it be” . This is the liberals war cry and the reason for poverty . People that have fallen on hard times don’t need a hand out , what they need is a hand up. You give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for the rest of his life. One thing I think we can all agree on, that is things need to change and the only way to create change is to stop doing what your been doing and move forward, stop repeating the mistakes of the parts. Get of the Merry go round so to speak .

  48. Engineers from the University of Washington have published their design and analysis findings and will present them at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Fusion Energy Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, this week. It was funded by the US Department of Energy.

    The new design is known as a spheromak, meaning it generates the majority of magnetic fields by driving electrical currents into the plasma itself. This reduces the amount of required materials and allows researchers to shrink the overall size of the reactor.

    The researchers estimated the cost of building a fusion reactor power plant using their design is comparable to building a coal power plant.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2792848/is-holy-grail-green-power-zero-emission-fusion-reactor-promises-cheaper-coal-energy.html

  49. Its funny how all these people are so enamored by the idea of fusion for whatever reason, that is years and decades away only because its is an accepted idea by the authorities, yet we have a LENR device that is putting out power NOW and nary a peep because of the bad rap cold fusion got. The E-cat just had a third party report issued. The MIT/Jet device has been working for the last 5 years on the same nickle technology with just a slightly different catalyst and you can go online and learn how its done..

    The hypocrisy is over powering. I work in Inertial Confinement Fusion and am fascinated by lattice assisted nuclear reactions. In my opinion LENR has way more promise than hot fusion. The energy density is much higher. The nickle hydrogen reaction is similar to a catalyst in that all a catalyst does is modify the energy levels by the presence of its electric field so that reaction are easier. A catalyst is not used up which is similar to epitaxy.
    Irving Langmuir discovered this stuff 50 years ago. The Langmuir plasma probe is named after him…
    When are people going to get a clue….

    • I think it might be about scalability, I’m sure I couldn’t afford one :)
      I’ve already got cheap natural gas, why complicate things ?
      Besides, it might make the wind turbine manufacturers mad :)

  50. I detetect approval of this Skunk Works project as a possible replacement for fossil fuels by those who still think that fossil fuels will warm up the world. I simply question the entire concept of having to get rid of fossil fuels because they allegedly are responsible for anthropogenic global warming or AGW. This is just pseudo-scientific rubbish. They are not and demonstrably addition of carbon dioxide to the air from burning coal or oil does not warm the air. This is not an opinion, it is a scientific observation. The keeling curve tells us that atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing but there has been no warming for 18 years now. Arrhenius theory of greenhouse warming has been predicting warming all these years and getting nothing. If you are a scientist and your theory predicts warming but you get nothing at all for 18 years you know that this theory is invalid. The greenhouse warming theory of Arrhenius is simply invalid and belongs in the waste basket of history where there is a spot for it, right next to phlogiston, another failed theory of heat. Their pseudo-science failed to predict the appearance of the mysterious lack of warming they call “hiatus” and is still failing to explain what causes it. They are in a panic now and one peer-reviewed scholarly article after another comes out trying ti explain it away. Anthony has recorded over fifty of them and more are on the way. Their explanations are actually funny if it wasn’t so sad for the state of climate science. One, for example, blames speedup of the trade winds in the Pacific for the hiatus. And what makes them speed up? They are sure it must be ocean currents in the Atlantic (not the Pacific!) Ocean. My favorite excuses are the ones that are loolking for that lost heat in the ocean bottom. Reminds me of Trenberth and Fasullo who in four years managed to lose 80 percent of oceanic heat in the Pacific. They were sure they were right about it because “…Since 2004, ~3000 Argo floats have provided regular temperature soundings of the upper 2000 m of the ocean, giving new confidence in the ocean heat content assessment—…” If I had been the reviewer of that paper I would have told them to forget that confidence and get to work on Argo buoys until they could explain that discrepancy. But that is work and their buddy reviewer let them through with all that missing heat, now a global warming mystery. Since the Arrhenius greenhouse warming theory simply does not work we need an alternative theory that does. And the Miskolczi greenhouse theory, MGT, is such a theory. When Arrhenius predicts non-existent warming, Miskolczi predicts what we see: addition of carbon dioxide to air does not warm the air. It came out in 2007, was vilified on the web, and blacklisted because of its predictions. Grad students never knew about it and as a result, not one of those over 50 attempts to explain away the hiatus made use of Miskolczi. According to MGT water vapor and carbon dioxide, the two chief greenhouse gases, establish a common joint absorption window in the infrared. Its IR optical thickness is fixed at 1.87, determined by Miskolczi from first principles. If you now add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, it will start to absorb in the IR, just as the Arrhenius theory says. But this will increase the optical thickness, and as soon as this happens, water vapor will start to diminish, rain out, and the original optical thickness is restored. The added carbon dioxide will of course keep absorbing but simultaneous reduction of water vapor in the atmosphere will keep total absorption constant, and no warming is possible. That is why there is no warming today despite a steady increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide as recorded by the Keeling curve. This has important consequences for climate science. The lack of warming from added carbon dioxide means that there is no such thing as enhanced greenhouse warming. Since the enhanced greenhouse warming is alleged to be the cause of AGW it follows that there is no such thing as anthropogenic global warming. It turns out to be just a pseudo-scientific fantasy, invented by an over-eager climate worker to justify the greenhouse hypothesis. This lack of warming also applies to runaway greenhouse effect and thereby explains why very high carbon dioxide levels in geological past have not caused any runaway warming.

    • …and if the adaptation of water vapor levels happens with a time lag, it explains the finding of Beenstock & Reingewertz that CO2 level cannot cause temperature, but the derivative of CO2 level can.

    • If you’re going to post anti-Arrhenius nonsense, even if you did tack a semi-relevant bit onto the front of your otherwise cut-and-paste screed, can you please at least try to learn how to break it up into chunks?

      “Arrhenius theory of greenhouse warming has been predicting warming all these years and getting nothing.” and “Since the Arrhenius greenhouse warming theory simply does not work we need an alternative theory that does. And the Miskolczi greenhouse theory, MGT, is such a theory.”

      Miskolczi’s work:
      1. http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/08/comments-on-miskolczi%E2%80%99s-2010-controversial-greenhouse-theory/
      Uses artificial non-realistic assumptions.
      2. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/08/support-for-the-saturated-greenhouse-effect-leaves-the-likelihood-of-agw-tipping-points-in-the-cold/
      Points to a saturated GHE for CO2, which was already known to be expected from its logarithmic nature. Confirming what was expected elsewhere doesn’t really confirm Miskolczi.

      The “Arrhenius theory” you rail against is the improper collecting, concocting, and congealing of confounding climate components into confused climate models compiled with a GHE component. They didn’t predict “the pause”. Arrhenius’ real work is untouched and well supported.

      You do make it convenient by announcing with the uninterrupted block style that your entire comment may be freely ignored and scrolled past, but it also makes it hard for those attempting to scan through it looking for at least a partially intelligent factoid related somehow to the story. Breaking it up into manageable pieces would be helpful.

      Remember, I said “please”. ;-)

  51. I doubt it.

    LockMart has a bad habit of overpromising and underperforming combined with massive exaggeration and underestimation of cost.

    See the F-35.

  52. Some things are just impossible.

    Travelling faster than the speed of light seems to be one of those impossible things. If it was possible, the aliens would already be here.

    And then some things are just too dangerous. The flying car is possible, but it seems that too many of them would crash and kill the pilots/drivers so it is not being used. Trains at 400 kms/hour are another one of those too dangerous things to do.

    So fusion power is either one of those possible or impossible things and/or it might be too dangerous.

    Maybe hydrogen is not the answer. It might be an isotopic transmutation solution using Nickel62 for example. Nobody has tried all of the isotopic solutions yet.

    So, when we will have an answer to the questions? Maybe it is just impossible except in the middle of stars.

  53. Imagine if the billions poured into windmills and solar had been used for fusion. There might by now, have been a genuine clean, green energy source.

    You need to ponder why this did not – and still does not – occur to them. In fact the early attempts were even ridiculed and sabotaged. Funny, that.

    • Considering what has already been “poured into” fusion energy research i think the billions would have made no difference. It’s a black hole.

  54. Saying you are 5 generations away from a prototype is like saying you don’t know what you don’t know… there could be a lot of surprises on the way…

  55. Oh boy. This seems as promising as cold fusion. “The design is in my head to build a perpetual motion machine. I just need a few backers and I’m sure I can get it to the market in the next 5 years.”

  56. I’m skeptical. The guy is an aeronautical engineer. No offense to engineers but they should consult nuclear physicists. After all physicists built the atomic bomb, nuclear reactor and fusion bomb. Aeronautical engineers tried to build a nuclear airplane since 1946. None so far. They don’t even know if the physics will work in this compact fusion reactor. But it’s worth trying.

    • Physicists are good for the theory and even the demonstration of it, but when you come to build something outside the lab that has a chance of working – this is engineer work. The biggest oxymoron in the science/tech fields is the term “rocket scientist”. There ain’t such a thing. So the guy’s merely and aeronautical engineer in charge of the project. He’s already said they want to attract specialist engineers into the project. I’m not a physicist but I understand the theory. University projects of this kind have too many physicists – one will do. The engineers will take care of the hardware if it can be made to work.

      • Good point if not only for the fact that the atomic bomb was invented by Oppenheimer and his physicists team, the nuclear reactor by Fermi, the H-bomb by Teller, the liquid-fueled rocket by Goddard. Damn they’re all physicists. Okay, okay engineers are good too.

  57. The search for a viable fusion reactor has cost billions, from Zeta in the 1950s through the Russian Tokomak design to the present day multi-national ITER project. The latter alone has cost over 50 billion so far and is not expected to produce results before 2027.

    Here is a summary of the state of the art of futuristic nuclear developments :
    Cold Fusion – Doesn’t work. Classify with astrology, alien abduction, bigfoot, time travel, etc.
    Thorium Reactors – Will work for short time but high maintenance costs due to use corrosive materials render them non-commercial at present.
    Fusion – Promises unlimited energy with no risks. Proof of concept established but can’t sustain reaction long enough to be commercial.

    • Sorry, but “thorium reactors” is nonsense. Thorium is not reactive – not fissile. The idea is to breed fertile thorium in a fission reactor powered by something like U-238, which would be a uranium reactor. Should the thorium converted to U-233 contribute to the reactor’s power generation (which has never been demonstrated), it would still be a uranium reactor.

  58. It looks very much like a Mirror Machine, a concept for a fusion reactor researched in the 1960s, and dropped. However, that machine was the size of a small room, but small compared with later pulse machines. I’m very sceptical.

  59. How good would it be if somehow we could force all patents out of the oil ,coal and gas companies so young minds could revisit them with today’s understanding. Surely there’s a young Tesla out there that could carry on his work. Or what about a young Stanley Myers that could hydro us all up. Scientific funding has to come from somewhere and I can’t see the Rockefeller’s digging deep to fund free energy devises . If your interested in how America got to where it is and how it got there then read this http://educate-yourself.org/ga/RFcontents.shtml . America government is how many trillions in debt, how many billions if not trillions do the Rockafeller’s control ? So who’s really in control ? The rothchilds own Europe and are in with the Rockafeller’s to create one world order. The first step has already taken place with the introduction of the Euro. Why do you think the pommies never converted and will never convert away from the pound? Do you think they will give away their right to print money? Don’t ever under estimate the financial power of monarchy. Free trade and self regulating takes the power away from governments and gives it (power) to privet enterprise to the point were we elect people like the Bush oil family. I read somewhere that the Binlarden family gave them a leg up and helped them out when they were struggling . The real watermelons aren’t the greenies it the American government . Obama comes across as a green on the outside but American political system is as red as Russia . How much of Americas debt is owed to China, the sleeping giant.

  60. Anthony why would there be a ISIS add at the top of your page.

    REPLY: Ads are context/browsing history sensitive, and inserted by wordpress.com – I have NO control over them. If you had read some articles about ISIS recently, your cookies would tag you as having an interest in that subject, and so the ad machine decides to display an ad about ISIS to you. Try an experiment. Go look up some stuff you normally wouldn’t look at, like say “baby formula”, or maybe “flower arrangements”, or perhaps even “Travel to Alaska”. Search then browse those topics so that you look at least three or more different webpages on those subjects. It will be likely that you’ll see ads for one of them here, though I don’t know for certain if those are in the advertising mix wordpress.com system. – Anthony

    • Cheers Anthony , I thought that was the case . It took me by surprise because I’ve not looked up anything to do with ISIS . Are you happy with Google trying to build a profile up on you/me so they can sell to advertisers .

  61. Share price seems solid if a little weak along with general prices. So the people in the know must be happy with this announcement and the research funds going into it.

  62. So Google links truth ( IS ) with tereraism . So the real war is about truth (IS) , and the real threat to Americas national security IS the internet because people can seek out the truth. America Is going on like a bad perient by saying ” do what I say not what I do”

  63. I took a snapshot of of your home page showing your adds placed there by Google no drought and nothing at all to do with you I suspect . I would have posted the snapshot but I haven’t worked out how to yet on my mobile device. Sick of buying PC’s and laptops so people can hack and crash them. I’ve had two dry lightening strikes hit my house and fry most electrical devices .

    • jmorpuss. You might want to look into ad-blockers. There are a number of ad-blocking technologies available for all common PC platforms. They somewhat undermine the implied arrangement of companies providing free services in return for being allowed to present us with some advertising. I wouldn’t recommend them except that some advertisers are quite ill-behaved and their advertising activities are intrusive, time consuming, and a real nuisance.

      Anyway Google or any other decent search engine will likely lead you to an ad-blocker that will suit your needs.

  64. Too bad Jane Fonda is too old to do a remake of China Syndrome with fusion technology and head this off before we get the benefit of this new technology! SARC/

  65. I want it to work, but what we have here is funding bait. I wonder why Lockheed need to go cap in hand to investors?

    Listen carefully to what he is saying at 2:00 for the next 20 secs. “we think we can get to a prototype in 5 years”, “high risk, high payoff” “testing the concept to see if it holds the promise we think it does”

    If I’m still around in 5 years, I’ll check back to see if they have the prototype up and running. As I said I want it to happen but the press release and video does not enthuse me.

  66. LM is famous for using OPM for projects that deliver nothing. Classic is the Warrior 2000 project, $7B for software that was 10 years late and couldn’t do 10% of the promised capability. F22, F35, etc…

    Northrup has a far better track record, but then they tend to start using their own money. F18 Hornet/Super Hornet as an example.

  67. If the concept worked out, it would drive the guys below nuts. Wouldn’t that be fun —

    • “Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it.”- Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute

    • “The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet.”- Jeremy Rifkin, Greenhouse Crisis Foundation

    • “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”- Prof Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University

  68. If anyone can do it, Skunk Works could, but not holding my breath at all. Sustained/workable fusion is 1000x more difficult than fission.

    Maybe in a century or two….

  69. Every time the idea of a preposterous breakthrough coming in an out-of-the way place arises, I think about two things. A couple of bicycle builders developed the airplane in a shop in Dayton and a garage at Kill Devil Hills. And their “announcement” of success was a telegram to their father that they would be home by Christmas because they had flown successfully.

  70. @MikeB

    @MideB wrote: Cold Fusion – Doesn’t work. Classify with astrology, alien abduction, bigfoot, time travel, etc.

    The evidence is becoming rather overwhelming that LENR is real.

    Dr. Hagelstion from MIT gave a short course on LENR. Students all received a LENR device. These devices are producing excess energy, and energy beyond chemical. So imagine that, students at a 101 level course doing nuclear experiments that produce excess energy (about 14x)

    CBS 60 minutes hired a WELL trained physicist and said “check this out”. He started out 100% skeptical, and after looking into LENR stated he was converted.
    Video here:

    That video was 5 years ago. 5 years later the reasons are WELL known as to why so many LENR experiments fail. (main issue is allowing sufficient time to load up the metal lattice).

    One has to be RATHER hard pressed to ignore the witness and testimony of SO MANY people experiencing the heat effect of LENR devices.

    As more information and evidence comes out, the BETTER the case becomes for LENR. This issue is no different then reading about how global warming is some big huge problem, but looking closer we see it is not.

    There is much growing evidence Fleischmann-Pons are NOT THE ONLY ONES to have seen this “heat” effect. This effect is real, and has been seen 100s if not 1000’s of times around the world.

    It is now “reasonable” in public to accept LENR as real. And as noted it is NOT likely “classical” fusion, but it is clearly a heat effect and one that occurs at the nuclear level as opposed to chemical.

    So a paper stating that typical fusion by-products not being present ARE correct, but only because LENR is NOT a typical fusion reaction. LENR is a nuclear process and effect. We are seeing heat, and seeing excess heat at a nuclear level. (what more do we need?).

    The fact is that we DO SEE heat! (so did Fleischmann-Pons). The debate is thus not is this fusion, but WHAT KIND of nuclear reaction is occurring here.

    What remains is commercial potential of this energy source.

    Rossi claims to have 1 million watt system at a customer site. They are currently dealing with problems of control when the system is “under load”. They expect these problems to be resolved within a 1 year time frame. This is clearly beyond the lab and theoretical stage, but a system in a commercial environment.

    Regardless of Rossi’s “claims”, I much predict the “resistance” to LENR will ONLY fall when such devices are working in a commercial environment.

    Regards,
    Albert k

    • I’d be less skeptical if there were clear, reproducible evidence of nuclear reactions, rather than the sporadic and episodal and non-reproducible results that have been reported in the past. It would also help if one had a theory.

      I actually do have a theory, and have written out a description of a LENR device that should work, as opposed to might work only by violating some laws of thermodynamics — it might even explain to some extent the anecdotal reports of radiation and nuclear reaction. If anybody wants to give me a few million dollars (seriously) I’d be happy to build a prototype and demonstrate the concept. With my approach, there won’t be any ambiguity — if it works, it works, and will produce both heat and radiation, and a ten minute talk is sufficient to demonstrate why it theoretically should work UNLESS non-magnetohydrodynamic nonlinearities (that is, easy stuff) intervene to keep one out of the favorable regime. But I don’t think they will. As I said, it probably explains the accidental success of many LENR researchers.

      rgb

      • Well, the difference is Rossi not asking for money like you!

        His rights and technology were purchased by Industrial Heat. And the designs for their commercial reactors have REALLY changed in just one year. And the 3rd party test of his device was done without Rossi present. It is a good start.
        And I don’t think the results are “sporadic” anymore. Rossi’s device worked at will (you could turn it on and off).

        And it not just Rossi, we have the above CBS video I posted and their visit to a lab in Israel. These testimonies ARE important since we seeing complete DIFFERENT groups of people state that such an LENR effect exists. And they gone well beyond the “hit and miss” ability to create these effects.

        We also has Dr. Hagelstein at MIT who been running devices for months on end now. And students of his class receive a working LENR device.
        The simple matter is this discovery will TAKE time to flow thought the physics community.

        Recall in 1985 A Doctor discovered ulcers are NOT DUE to life style, stress and bad foods. The WHOLE medical community had based their “dogma” on ONE poor test in the 1950’s. It took the medical community NEARLY 20 years to toss out their pre-conceived notions that ulcers could be “cured”. So in 1985, the doctors discovered a cure for ulcers). Dr. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren were awarded the Nobel Price in 2005. (so it took the medical community 15+ years to change their views on ulcers).

        As for theory? There are several, including this one from LENR startup Brillouin.

        http://www.brillouinenergy.com/Docs1/BrillouinEnergyHypothesis.pdf

        Ross’s 3rd party test is amazing and the result of people putting their credibility on the line. However, while the results are amazing, I would accept that the report and testing leaves much desired. So labs in Israel, MIT, Rossi, SRI, Brillouin etc. have and are producing the LENR effect on demand.

        In fact this “follows” much how new technology and science moves forward (not just one person). In many ways, this “new” industry is springing up like the computer industry in the 1970’s. We can get our hands on a CPU processor, but who will be to market with a computer beyond the “kit” and basement development level.

        LENR is TRULY a garage type of industry that can grow to be the next Apple.

        So while you might have a theory, I suggest you fast get going.

        Industrial Heat has a commercial system being worked on at a customer site. Brillouin has prototype reactors being tested at Stanford Research Institute.

        So these folks are about 5 years ahead of you.

        Keep in mind MANY MORE companies are NOT so public about LENR and rightfully so by judging some of the comments here.

        Others like Hitachi(recently awarded patents in Japan in regards to LENR) are not that public about their theories and plans.

        The simple matter is the LENR revolution is occurring right before you eyes – likely one of the most interesting stories of our lifetime if not for mankind.

        Regards,
        Albert Kallal

      • Farnsworth already invented a working LENR in 1964 called the fusor. It is a favorite science project of high school students.

    • This is all hype. Observing excess heat does not mean cold fusion is occurring. Most likely the apparatus gained heat from its environment. Almost impossible to keep the apparatus and the environment at exactly the same temperature. It takes weeks to observe the excess heat. Tiny temperature variations surely had taken place in such a long time. This explains why the heat effect is variable and inconsistent among many experiments.

      • “It takes weeks to observe the excess heat.”

        Check out the E-Cat report. 900 watts in, 2600 watts out, IIRC. It doesn’t take super-sensitive calorimetry to observe that. There’s still lots of stuff to criticize, have fun with it.

      • The claims in the E-Cat report are bogus.

        Rossi and Focardi have applied for a patent that has been partially rejected in a preliminary report. According to the report, “As the invention seems, at least at first, to offend against the generally accepted laws of physics and established theories, the disclosure should be detailed enough to prove to a skilled person conversant with mainstream science and technology that the invention is indeed feasible. … In the present case, the invention does not provide experimental evidence (nor any firm theoretical basis) which would enable the skilled person to assess the viability of the invention. The description is essentially based on general statement and speculations which are not apt to provide a clear and exhaustive technical teaching.”

        It’s more fun to accept bogus claims, have fun with it.

      • More on the E-Cat scam.

        “With other companies now trying to capitalize off of this speculative, unverified and highly dubious claim, it’s time for the e-Cat’s proponents to provide the provable, testable, reproducible science that can answer these straightforward physics objections. Independent verification is the cornerstone of all scientific investigation and experiment, it’s how we weed out all sorts of errors from miscalibration to contamination, and how we protect ourselves from unscrupulous swindles.”

        http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2011/12/05/the-nuclear-physics-of-why-we/

        Nuclear physicists are sure it is a hoax.

  71. 15 Oct: RT: Russia develops hybrid fusion-fission reactor, offers China role
    The project is open for international collaboration, particularly from Chinese scientists…
    A hybrid fusion-fission reactor may be several times more efficient than a traditional fission reactor. And building one is “a goal for tomorrow” rather than the distant future, as is the case for a fusion reactor like the famous France-based International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) that Russia collaborates on, Kovalchuk said…
    http://rt.com/news/196088-russia-hybrid-nuclear-reactor/

  72. “…if not eventually decrease, the world’s insatiable demand for power”

    How does a new source of useful energy decrease demand?

  73. I do not think Tritium-Deuterium reaction is such a good idea. It releases an awful lot of neutron radiation, which is hazardous, does tremendous damage and is impossible to confine with a thin structure. For comparison, in this case neutron radiation is fifty times more powerful for the same energy output, than for Uranium fission.

    Lack of long half life radioactive isotopes in waste is true, but fission reactors with the same property could also be designed. Only our current Cold War Plutonium factories, with their extremely low fuel efficiency, fail at this test.

    There are alternatives, of course, like aneutronic fusion, with no radiation output at all. Boron-proton (11B+p -> 3x4He) reaction for example releases only hot alpha particles (Helium), nothing else. There is a formidable challenge in it, as the reaction requires 6.6 billion Kelvin, but that can be replaced by a moderate energy 600 keV proton beam directed at a Boron target, which sounds a bit more reasonable. These devices can be designed and operated far away from thermodynamic equilibrium, so talk about temperature is wanton.

    • It’s a great reaction for making enhanced radiation warheads, incorrectly called “neutron bombs”, aka, “the capitalists’ dream, a bomb that kills people but leaves property untouched”, as per Soviet propaganda. The people they were designed to kill were invading Russian armored vehicle crew, & the property to be preserved was German villages.

      • Well, there is a difference between preserving evacuated German villages against an invading Soviet army and a compact fusion reactor (CFR) design to be used in ordinary baseload power generation, even in aircrafts. Powerful neutron radiation may be desirable in the former case, not so much in the latter one.

        This Lockheed Martin / Skunk Works communication is nothing but hype. A proper breeder fission reactor design is superior in every conceivable respect. What is more, the technology for it exists and was tested many decades ago. It was only dismissed because it failed to satisfy demand for Plutonium, that is, bomb stuff.

      • I agree. Even if the villages weren’t evacuated, ERWs offered advantages to the NATO defenders, since the neutron projectiles would have been detonated over Soviet tank & motor rifle regiments attacking between built up areas. The missile & artillery packages were designed with the typical area covered by Soviet tactical formations & the average spacing between German villages in mind. The Russians tried to counter ERWs by covering the tops of their tank turrets & glaces with lead blankets.

        Israel for obvious reasons still favors neutron artillery projectiles as tactical nukes.

        I like breeder reactors & think the US should be building them.

    • As a serious aside, your concern about neutron release as a part of high-energy fusion reaction is noted.

      But, as far as we know about high-energy fusion, the 0n1 release you reference is a natural and unavoidable result. And, trapping those 0n1 generates a noticeable extra heat transfer mechanism for the fusion reactor as a whole system. (On another side note, I have never seen a viable, reliable, maintainable high-energy design for getting the continuously-created radiant fusion energy from inside the vacuum, through the vacuum-barrier (which must be a high-alloy piping) and the large higher-energy hot magnets around the piping. Regardless of the fusion theory used, you must get the plasma energy from each reaction through all those barriers into pure water able to become steam. No steam, no reliable power production using any existing technology we know about.)

      But, the 0n1 are a short-term problem only. They will irradiate the fusion structure and piping and magnets and magnet cooling piping and the cables/conduits hooked up to the magnets. Unlike fission products – which are extremely radioactive and (some of which are very long-lived, some very short-lived) need to be very carefully treated and shielded and cooled for relatively long periods of time – neutron-activated isotopes in the vacuum piping and fusion structural components will be radioactive, but they are low-energy short-lived isotopes. No cooling needed, they are not “portable” because the irradiated pipe material stays in place, and they are minor problems for maintenance periods.

      • And, trapping those 0n1 generates a noticeable extra heat transfer mechanism for the fusion reactor as a whole system.

        Which can be nasty on superconducting magnets, and you can’t put them far away from the reaction chamber, can you?

        You can’t even make the thing compact either with thick concrete walls or a huge body of water necessary to shield against neutrons.

      • Berényi Péter
        October 18, 2014 at 4:29 pm

        Which can be nasty on superconducting magnets, and you can’t put them far away from the reaction chamber, can you?

        And thus my skepticism about the government’s ever-longer and ever-more expensive “consensus” Big Science high-energy fusion programs. And their bureaucrats. No one has yet shown how the engineering will be done to get that fusion-released continuous gamma ray blast and 0n1 flux out through the vacuum walls and OUT through the Tokamak/Torus magnetic “bottle” and OUT through its the power circuits and their cabling and insulation and wraps and OUT through supports for the magnetic bottle and its structural steel and concrete into a suitable blanket that will be cooled (?) by a pure water supply sufficient to boil sufficient steam to turn a useful generator…..

        And I have seen no solutions to those same practical problems to fusion since my first nuclear physics and nuclear reactor design and control classes back in 1974.

        Super-conducting, supercold magnetic bottles? OK, I did the design modeling for the late SuperConducting Super Collider magnetic core and magnetic strings around Waco/Waxahatcie TX back in the early 90’s. You can always blow a “power plant” worth of gamma rays through a super conducting magnet. You just cannot expect that super-conducting liquid helium piped magnet to work for very long after its been hit with that gamma ray flux …

  74. This is Lockheed’s Skunk Works. They get more respect from me, because they’ve earned it many times, than some garden variety academic or guy in his garage.

    The timeline is aggressive enough as to not be the usual pie-in-the-sky blather either.

    We shall see, but when these guys say they can, I think just maybe they can.

  75. Close relation of mine is a recently retired VP at Lockheed and was director of one of their labs with PhD in physics. He knows some of these lead folks at the Skunk Works. His impression: way over-hyped and they are probably in dire need of additional cash infusion. Same-old usual fusion talk.

  76. Compact Fusion Skeptics

    One of the main challenges is containing the necessary plasma within magnetic fields, scientists say. Plasma is the ungainly blob that needs to be heated so that its atoms can collide. Scientists have likened it to “trying to hold Jello with rubber bands.”

    • Well it’s not at all like trying to hold Jello with rubber bands. That at least works so long as you choose the rubber bands, and Jello geometries properly. BUT !! the rubber bands do actually have to touch the rubber bands, and that means the rubber bands and Jello can conduct heat between themselves, and possibly reach at least local thermal equilibrium.

      The plasma is not aloud to touch the magnetic rubber bands, in the sense of conducting heat away from the plasma. If it does, you are likely to get allowed bang, and the breaker will blow.

      Need I say it again: gravity sucks, which is why it can hold the plasma together without rubber bands.

      • george e. smith
        October 17, 2014 at 1:11 pm

        What’s more the rubber bands have to touch the jello too.

        Hah! Rubber bands are easy. You can SEE rubber bands holding Jello.
        But, in a traditional consensus high-energy fusion generator –

        I have to keep ALL of the air OUT
        I have to keep ALL of the high-energy (pre-fusion) ionized ex-hydrogen ions IN,
        I have to get ALL of the fusion-generated high-energy gamma rays OUT (through the magnetic bottle and its super-cooled super-conducting magnets and their supports and structures and cables and insulation (thermal and electric!) ,
        I have to take care of all of those pesky and penetrating high energy neutrons going through everything,
        I have get the fused hydrogen ions OUT(He out but no 1D2 and 1T3!)
        but I have to put IN new 1D2 and 1 T3 at the same time,
        and I have to keep the super-cold things cold and the super-hot things hot … in the same place.

        And make the be able to run for 3-6 years continuously. And then be repaired without killing people.

  77. its crapola. i read another blog called N#xtBigFut#re and the smart guys over there says its bs. All these companies release this stuff and say “look what we’ve invented or are working on” and then check back 5 or 10 years later and see how few of them ever made it to mkt. (especially on batteries and all things power related)

    • Total BS. And they can’t even make a video that is possible to watch. When I can buy one of their gizmos at Frys, I’ll believe their hype.

  78. Should I be happy they are making headway on fusion, or irritated they are being driven by fear of Climate Change?

  79. This is fantasy…. Sustainable fusion powered electrical generation is a fiction……

    The reason? It takes as much energy or more to produce sufficient USABLE heat to drive turbines…. It is a perpetual motion machine they are trying to build.

    They pump in electricity to contain and maintain a fusion reaction which produces heat that turns water into a gas and drives a turbine… However, the efficiencies are just not there….. The only way to get this to work would be to get Scottie off the Enterprise with his trusty tachyon screwdriver to fine tune it….. or is that Dr Who?

    There is no doubt that the Skunk works is working hard, but they are only working on generating funding…. Not electricity.

    • “Sustainable fusion powered electrical generation is a fiction……The reason? It takes as much energy or more to produce sufficient USABLE heat to drive turbines…. It is a perpetual motion machine they are trying to build.”

      Not really. Electrical energy output is always less than the nuclear energy plus other energy input. In the case of nuclear fusion reactors, nuclear energy output is less than the energy input.

  80. As Ben Rich once alluded to “We” have the technology to take ET home. This he said 20 years ago. Somewhere in a black budget sinkhole, we probably have gone beyond the capabilities this energy source.

  81. “Modern environmentalism is an Original Sin Religion: “Mankind is cast out of Eden because in our pride and greed we ate from the tree of knowledge. Only by genuflection and deference to the morally superior environmentalists among us can we be saved.”

    LOL, you haven’t studied the Left. The Left is a Utopian religion that denies Original Sin. They are the elites who have overcome superstitions about religion and are busy building the earthly utopia. The fact that a private, profit driven company is developing this will be the reason they oppose it. If you want to understand the Left, read former Leftists like Horowitz.

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