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March 12, 2013

Prototype Fusion Reactor in Five Years?




 Fusion Power
The same organization that was assembled to beat the Germans to the jet engine in World War II has now been engaged to combat climate change with the development of cheap, clean and plentiful energy.  According to Charles Chase of Lockheed Martin's Skunkworks, they could have a working prototype ready in five years.
It seems as though fusion power is the future and it always will be, but what if that were no longer true? What if we could make clean, plentiful fusion power available in a 100 megawatt prototype reactor by 2017?

At a recent Solve for X lecture, Charles Chase of Lockheed’s Skunkworks suggests this could be possible. If true according to his time line a 100 megawatt production system could be ready as soon as 2022.

Chase and his team at Lockheed have developed a high beta configuration, which allows a compact reactor design and speedy five year development timeline.

According to Chase, Lockheed is going to make a trailer-sized fusion power plant that turns cheap and plentiful hydrogen (deuterium and tritium) into helium plus enough energy to power a small city. 

It's safe, it's clean, and Lockheed is promising an operational unit by 2017 with assembly line production to follow, enabling everything from unlimited fresh water to engines that take spacecraft to Mars in one month instead of six.


Compact fusion


Lockheed's fusion power plant uses radio energy to heat deuterium gas inside tightly controlled magnetic fields, creating a very high temperature plasma that's much more stable and well confined than you'd find in something like a tokamak.

Chase doesn't present much technical detail, but he seemed confident in predicting a 100mW prototype by 2017, with commercial 100mW systems available by 2022, implying that all global energy demands will be able to be met by fusion power by about 2045. 

No more oil, no more coal, no more nuclear, and not even any solar or wind or hydro will be necessary (unless you're into that sort of thing): fusion has the potential to produce as much affordable clean power as we'll ever need, for the entire world. Good luck Lockheed Martin!

Fusion timeline from Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin's Skunkworks Fusion Timeline - Image Source Lockheed Martin




SOURCE  Solve for X

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