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Lockheed Martin Fusion Reactor Breakthrough


Fat Pitch
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If this is true then the implications will be massive (2nd industrial/energy revolution).  Crazy if they just leap frogged all the current research on fusion reactors and pulled out mini generators. Doesn’t pass the smell test to me, but they put Skunk Work’s reputation on the line here so maybe...

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/15/us-lockheed-fusion-idUSKCN0I41EM20141015

 

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A thousand of things can go wrong with these technologies. Every engineer will tell you that on paper a lot of things look great but as soon as you start designing you find problems. In most engineering area, those problems are surmountable but that is mainly because of the current knowledge of the subject around the planet.

 

With a cutting edge technology like nuclear fusion, you are on your own because the knowledge base is limited. Therefore, every problem represents thousand of hours of research. Hence, the incredibly long timeline to achieve a commercial design.

 

I sincerely hope controlled nuclear fusion will see the day during my lifetime but I have my doubts.

 

BeerBaron

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It seems that they have some theory, but no real world data.  There are other fusion projects that are much further along, like "polywell fusion" by EMC2 (http://www.physics.umd.edu/jaeyoung_park_slides.pdf) which has build 8 working prototypes (scaled down and non-breakeven so far).  There is General Fusion which has also built prototypes and has significant funding.  There are others as well which all appear to be further along than Lockheed Martin.  I think we will have fusion power in most of our lifetimes, but it won't come from the multi-government, many-$Billion boondoggle that is ITIR.  If even half of what they wasted on that was spend on these more promising designs we'd have fusion plants already.

 

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A thousand of things can go wrong with these technologies. Every engineer will tell you that on paper a lot of things look great but as soon as you start designing you find problems. In most engineering area, those problems are surmountable but that is mainly because of the current knowledge of the subject around the planet.

 

With a cutting edge technology like nuclear fusion, you are on your own because the knowledge base is limited. Therefore, every problem represents thousand of hours of research. Hence, the incredibly long timeline to achieve a commercial design.

 

I sincerely hope controlled nuclear fusion will see the day during my lifetime but I have my doubts.

 

BeerBaron

Why would one problem cost thousands of hours? What would they be doing most of that time? Just running like an enourmous amount of tests to see how it holds up over time?

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I liked the video with the young skunkworks scientist talking about the project. Part of the US establishment realizes they need to create new excitement with a new Space Program to get people like Musk motivated. You can't suddenly start flying their antigravity spacecraft unless there is some explanation of why now. So perhaps they release the fusion reactor to the military so they can plausibly say it made the new antigravity spacecraft possible.

 

Even if it does not work it is worth pursuing as you can use the plasma for a fusion torch. Larouchepac has a cool video on the implications of the fusion torch. They explain how it can be used for metal processing because each element has its own resonance frequency while in plasma. So you can get rare metals economically and you can process low grade ores. The video also discusses productivity improvement in steel using plasma.

 

http://larouchepac.com/node/28755

 

 

 

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Why would one problem cost thousands of hours? What would they be doing most of that time? Just running like an enourmous amount of tests to see how it holds up over time?

 

Problems can be solved easily if prior solutions are available, in that case you are tweaking the previous solutions and voilà. When it comes to problems with unknown solutions (at the moment) than it's much harder, it requires deep research, lots of tests and lots of errors are done in the process, it's almost a trial and error process.

 

To paraphrase someone well know on this forum: "It's much easier to learn from other's people mistakes"

 

BeerBaron

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Has someone thought about the consquences?

Unlimited, cheap and clean energy ...

My first thought is short coal mining, solar and o&g drilling (But oops, too late  ;D).

But what the heck can we produce that we don`t at the moment that takes a massive amount of energy to build and who profits from that?

 

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Has someone thought about the consquences?

Unlimited, cheap and clean energy ...

My first thought is short coal mining, solar and o&g drilling (But oops, too late  ;D).

But what the heck can we produce that we don`t at the moment that takes a massive amount of energy to build and who profits from that?

 

 

One thing that comes immediately to mind is desalination plants for abundant fresh water in any location reasonably close to the ocean (i.e. California, much of the middle east, India, China, Africa, etc).  The predicted future "water wars" never occurring will be almost as large a benefit as anything else.    This will devastate the oil industry and completely shake up the auto industry as Tesla takes over the world.  Space travel and even intra-planetary travel on Earth will be easier with gigantic nuclear powered jets that can fly between any two spots on Earth without refueling.  The prices of cloud computing will plummet as electricity becomes cheap. There are probably a million other things that no one has thought of yet.

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Has someone thought about the consquences?

Unlimited, cheap and clean energy ...

My first thought is short coal mining, solar and o&g drilling (But oops, too late  ;D).

But what the heck can we produce that we don`t at the moment that takes a massive amount of energy to build and who profits from that?

 

 

One thing that comes immediately to mind is desalination plants for abundant fresh water in any location reasonably close to the ocean (i.e. California, much of the middle east, India, China, Africa, etc).  The predicted future "water wars" never occurring will be almost as large a benefit as anything else.    This will devastate the oil industry and completely shake up the auto industry as Tesla takes over the world.  Space travel and even intra-planetary travel on Earth will be easier with gigantic nuclear powered jets that can fly between any two spots on Earth without refueling.  The prices of cloud computing will plummet as electricity becomes cheap. There are probably a million other things that no one has thought of yet.

 

These are good insights!

:)

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One thing that comes immediately to mind is desalination plants for abundant fresh water in any location reasonably close to the ocean (i.e. California, much of the middle east, India, China, Africa, etc).  The predicted future "water wars" never occurring will be almost as large a benefit as anything else.    This will devastate the oil industry and completely shake up the auto industry as Tesla takes over the world.  Space travel and even intra-planetary travel on Earth will be easier with gigantic nuclear powered jets that can fly between any two spots on Earth without refueling.  The prices of cloud computing will plummet as electricity becomes cheap. There are probably a million other things that no one has thought of yet.

 

Thanks! Man, tap dancing into the future, this sounds like a very good world to live in!

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if you think about it, we spend so much more time and money on science, in a much more efficient way now then 50 years ago. There are almost 3x as much people on the planet now. And with internet and improved communication it is much easier for smart people to find each other and work together. So technological breakthroughs should happen at a much accelerated pace then in the 50's . Im pretty optimistic for the next 10-20 years.

 

In the past you also had geniuses writing some paper on something and then having it burried. Only to be found like 30 years later and cause breakthroughs (wasn't this the case with information theory?). with improved efficiency in information exchange, that should happen much less now.

 

Now 200 IQ genius in mongolia can find a library and internet connection and teach himself anything. And then easily connect with scientists around the world. That was much harder 50-100 years ago.

 

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if you think about it, we spend so much more time and money on science, in a much more efficient way now then 50 years ago. There are almost 3x as much people on the planet now. And with internet and improved communication it is much easier for smart people to find each other and work together. So technological breakthroughs should happen at a much accelerated pace then in the 50's . Im pretty optimistic for the next 10-20 years.

 

In the past you also had geniuses writing some paper on something and then having it burried. Only to be found like 30 years later and cause breakthroughs (wasn't this the case with information theory?). with improved efficiency in information exchange, that should happen much less now.

 

Now 200 IQ genius in mongolia can find a library and internet connection and teach himself anything. And then easily connect with scientists around the world. That was much harder 50-100 years ago.

 

I'm optimistic about the future too.

 

Ray Kurzweil has talked a lot about the accelerating pace of intelligence and technology that had occurred in past and the next 20-30 years is when we should start hiting the exponential part of the growth curve, which will of course bring dramatic changes to just about every aspect of life. Cheap energy is just one area to be changed.

 

See: here:http://www.singularity.com/images/charts/ExponentialGrowthofComputing.jpg

 

If you're interested in thinking about the future I would recommend reading Kurzweils work. He's got many interesting ideas.

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