Lockheed Compact Reactor design is 100 times worse than initial claims

The Lockheed Compact Reactor was kicked off with huge promises a few years ago and their patent based upon those promises has publicized again. Journalists and publications who do not follow nuclear fusion in detail missed the technical revisions in 2015 and 2017 that downgraded what Lockheed in 2014 had hoped and publicized by 100 times. It will not truck sized and will be about submarine sized. It will not be a ten-year development push to a commercial system. Like most current designs there are a lot scientific and design uncertainties.

The project began in 2010. The project was first presented at the Google Solve for X forum on February 7, 2013. There was a lot of publicity in October 2014. In 2015, the technical problems were presented by others. In 2017, Lockheed published their own research and simulations which showed they were off by about 100 times on the size. In 2017, my article highlighted the new size of the Lockheed reactor would be about the size of a regular uranium fission submarine nuclear reactor.

Nextbigfuture is cited twice in the Wikipedia entry on the Lockheed reactor.

Wang, Brian (May 3, 2016). “Lockheed Portable Fusion project still making progress”. Next Big Future. Retrieved 2016-07-27.

wang, brian (1 May 2017). “Lockheed compact fusion reactor design about 100 times larger than first plans”. NextBigFuture.com. New big future Inc. Retrieved 25 December 2017.

It was originally believed that the compact reactor would fit on a large truck. It looked like it might weigh 20 tons and they claimed they could build a full-sized system in ten years. After actual engineering and scientific research and computer simulations, Lockheed found the new design would need to be around a 2000-ton reactor that is 7 meters in diameter and 18 meters long. This would be about one third the length of a Dolphin diesel submarine and it would be slightly wider and taller. It would be similar in size to a A5W submarine nuclear fission reactor.

Matthew J Moynihan has details on the Lockheed Martin fusion project based on a comprehensive look at available data.

15-tesla superconducting magnets to get to 200 tons in size but Fermilab is not getting production volume til about 2025

Lockheed believes a design with 15-tesla superconducting magnets could be reduced in size to 200 tons. Any nuclear fusion project that needs to have plasma confinement wants to have more powerful superconducting magnets so the fusion device can be smaller and cheaper. There are fusion energy proposals that do not need any plasma confinement. They use some form of pulsed power or anti-matter catalyzed fusion reactions where the products are used right away

The Fermilab so-called 15-T Dipole Demonstrator was integrated into the MDP working plan but has also become a centerpiece of the program for the next few years. The field level of 15 T expected to be reached in this magnet is almost four times greater than the magnet strength in the Tevatron and two times greater than that in the Large Hadron Collider. Magnets at this field level require niobium-tin superconductor, an advanced material that has yet to be used in any existing accelerator.

Lockheed Fusion Research

Technical results presented on the T4 experiment in 2015 showed a cold, partially ionized plasma with the following parameters: peak electron temperature of 20 Electron volts, 1E16 m−3 electron density, less than 1% ionization fraction and 3 kW of input power. No confinement or fusion reaction rates were presented.

Two theoretical reactor concepts were presented by Tom McGuire in 2015. An ideal configuration weighing 200 metric tons with 1 meter of cryogenic radiation shielding and 15 Tesla Magnets. A conservative configuration weighing 2,000 metric tons, 2 meters of cryogenic radiation shielding, and 5 Tesla magnets was also presented.

There was a presentation on the Lockheed reactor project at Princeton.

31 page analysis by Matthew J Moynihan


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