Adam Crowl considers spaceships if EM-Drive is verified as a real thing.
If the NASA emdrive performance of 1.2 millinewtons per kilowatt.
8.3 TeraWatts of power would be needed to provide 10 million newtons of thrust to accelerate a 1000 ton space-craft at 1 gee of acceleration. We have no power source that could generate 8.3 TeraWatts for a 1000 ton spacecraft.
If EMDrive performance increases with the Q-factor as some have theorized, then we could tune the cavity and make it superconducting. If we take the NASA EM-Drives and pump the Q factor to ~30 million, then about 2 GW power is needed for the sustained 1 gee thrust.
Theoretical nuclear fission reactors could power such a spacecraft. Gas-core or magnetic collimator fission-fragment reactor might be work but have been theoretically designed and have very limited experimental development.A fast-spectrum reactor with a thermal output of ~ 6 GW and ~35 % thermal conversion efficiency would be a first pass design to supply the power. Assuming ~100% burn-up the fuel used over 20 years masses 4.2 tons. If the reactor mass was limited to ~200 tons, then it’d need to supply power at 10 kWe/kg of reactor mass, which is very high performance.
How high can QF – quality factor get ?
Superconducting radio frequency (SRF) involves the application of electrical superconductors to radio frequency devices. The ultra-low electrical resistivity of a superconducting material allows an RF resonator to obtain an extremely high quality factor, Q. For example, it is commonplace for a 1.3 GHz niobium SRF resonant cavity at 1.8 Kelvin to obtain a quality factor of Q=50 billion. Such a very high Q resonator stores energy with very low loss and narrow bandwidth. These properties can be exploited for a variety of applications, including the construction of high-performance particle accelerator structures.
UPDATE- Nextbigfuture wrote that the Japanese anime Space Battleship Yamato could be realized with a solar powered version of an EMDrive Battleship Yamato if EMdrive scales with Q Factor.
At present, none of the “high Tc” superconducting materials are suitable for RF applications. Shortcomings of these materials arise due to their underlying physics as well as their bulk mechanical properties not being amenable to fabricating accelerator cavities. However, depositing films of promising materials onto other mechanically amenable cavity materials may provide a viable option for exotic materials serving SRF applications.
There is work to get quality factors up to 200 billion. Ambient magnetic field, if trapped in the penetration depth, leads to the residual resistance and therefore sets the limit for the achievable quality factors in superconducting niobium resonators for particle accelerators. Here, we show that a complete expulsion of the magnetic flux can be performed and leads to: (1) record quality factors Q over 200 billion up to accelerating gradient of 22 MV/m; (2) Q ∼ 30 billion at 2 K and 16 MV/m in up to 190 mG magnetic fields. This is achieved by large thermal gradients at the normal/superconducting phase front during the cooldown. The findings open up a way to ultra-high quality factors at low temperatures and show an alternative to the sophisticated magnetic shielding implemented in modern superconducting accelerators.
Fermi National Lab has found surface “infusion” conditions that systematically
a) increase the quality factor of these 1.3 GHz superconducting radio frequency (SRF) bulk niobium resonators, up to very high gradients;
b) increase the achievable accelerating gradient of the cavity compared to its own baseline with state-of-the-art surface processing. Cavities subject to the new surface process have larger than two times the state of the art Q at 2K for accelerating fields over 35 MV/m. Moreover, very high accelerating gradients ~ 45 MV/m are repeatedly reached, which correspond to peak magnetic surface fields of 190 mT, among the highest measured for bulk niobium cavities. These findings open the opportunity to tailor the surface impurity content distribution to maximize performance in Q and gradients, and have therefore very important implications on future performance and cost of SRF based accelerators. They also help deepen the understanding of the physics of the RF niobium cavity surface.
Fermi Lab studies have shown for the first time a method to obtain a controlled layer of nanometric size enriched with nitrogen. The nitrogen infusion treatment at 120°C has proven to remove the high field Q slope and give high Q at very high gradients up to 45 MV/m. Increasing duration and temperature leads to the reversal of the BCS surface resistance and outstanding values of quality factors at mid to high fields up to 60 billion at 2K for 1.3 GHz cavities. Further studies are ongoing, exploring other temperatures and partial pressures of nitrogen, in feedback with SIMS studies, in search of a better optimum for cavity performance in terms of N enriched surface nano-layer.
An EM-Drive with a q factor of 3 billion would need required is 20 MWe for the 1 gee acceleration spacecraft. 20 MWe is more than any reactor ever orbited but well within known design parameters.
An EM-Drive with a q factor of 30 billion would need required is 2 MWe for the 1 gee acceleration spacecraft.
An EM-Drive with a q factor of 60 billion would need required is 1 MWe for the 1 gee acceleration spacecraft.
An EM-Drive with a q factor of 300 billion would need required is 200 KWe for the 1 gee acceleration spacecraft.
For 30 to 300 billion q factors the power levels for a 1000 ton vehicle drop to the level where, you could use solar power for Emdrive to counter gravity on earth. It would be virtual anti-gravity. Structures that would be possible would not just be flying cars or floating antigravity but flying cities.
Star Gate Atlantis space traveling flying city.
Deep space travel would still need nuclear power sources because the ship would be away from stars and solar power. Power would need to be supplied constantly for years.
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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