Winterberg’s work in nuclear rocket propulsion earned him the 1979 Hermann Oberth Gold Medal of the Wernher von Braun International Space Flight Foundation. Winterberg is well respected for his work in the fields of nuclear fusion and plasma physics, and Edward Teller has been quoted as saying that he had “perhaps not received the attention he deserves” for his work on fusion.
Nextbigfuture has recently written briefly about a recent Winterberg paper – Hybrid Chemical-Nuclear Convergent Shock Wave High Gain Magnetized Target Fusion
Winterberg describes how to use a chemical explosive to boost the a nuclear fusion reaction that generates 1000 times the energy of the chemical explosive.
Winterberg describes a 30 cm sphere (1 foot sphere) of high explosive that would generate a 25 ton hybrid chemical – nuclear fusion pulse.
The 14 MeV DT fusion reaction neutrons are slowed down in its dense combustion products, raising the temperature in it to 100000 K. At this temperature the kinetic energy of the expanding fire ball can be converted at a high (almost 100%) efficiency directly into electric energy by an MHD Faraday generator. In this way most of the 80% neutron energy can be converted into electric energy, about three times more than in magnetic (ITER) or inertial (ICF) DT fusion concepts.
Currently we use high explosive, nuclear fission- nuclear fusion system for nuclear fusion bombs (Teller-Ulam bombs). The Winterberg system would remove the nuclear fission component which produces all of the fallout. The micro-chemical fusion system would have almost no fallout. It would enable nuclear pulse propulsion systems with almost clean pulses.
It would also be a way to make nuclear devices that were 1000 times the power of chemical bombs that scaled down to smaller weapons.
HMX, also called octogen, is a powerful and relatively insensitive nitroamine high explosive, chemically related to RDX. Like RDX, the compound’s name is the subject of much speculation, having been variously listed as High Melting eXplosive, Her Majesty’s eXplosive, High-velocity Military eXplosive, or High-Molecular-weight rdX. HMX is used almost exclusively in military applications, including as the detonator in nuclear weapons, in the form of polymer-bonded explosive, and as a solid rocket propellant.
The expansion velocity of the Winterberg fireball would be on the order 100km/sec. This would be about 200,000 mph. The ISP would be about 10,000.
Propogating Burn to Get the High Gain
Propagating burn can only be analyzed by extensive computer calculations, but one can propose some possibilities with two examples given here:
1. The first possibility is explained in Fig.3.
There a number of small cm-size superconducting solenoids are arranged around the burning magnetized DT plasma. With a maximum current density of 100,000 Amps/cm^2 and a critical field strength of 10 Tesla , the cm-size superconducting solenoids can be magnetized up to this field strength. It is then proposed to place inside each of the super-conducting solenoids a small cylinder of liquid or solid state DT, attached to a larger cylinder of D. If the inner radius of the superconducting solenoid is of the order 1cm and is laterally compressed by the convergent detonation wave to about 0.1cm, the magnetic field in it will by magnetic flux conservation rise 10 Telsa to 1000 Tesla from to making 1 million Gcm as required for propagating burn into the liquid DT and D ignited by the burning magnetized DT plasma. There, then quite large gains are possible.
2. The second possibility, explained in Fig.4. is even more extravagant.
In it the hollow pipe passing through the centre of the explosive is replaced by a co-axial conductor, with liquid DT and D put inside the inner conductor. In this configuration the burning magnetized DT plasma is explosively breaking through the wall of the inner conductor, bombarding and implosively igniting a DT target placed in the centre of the inner conductor.
With additional DT and D placed along DT target an autocatalytic detonation have as shown in Fig.5 becomes possible, where the soft X-rays released from the burning plasma pre-compresses the un-burnt DT or D. There even larger gains are possible.
Use a Faraday generator of large dimensions to convert the pulses to electricity
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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