Pulsed Fusion Propulsion Progress

Magnetic helicity dynamics are important in solar flares and coronal mass ejections. Magnetic helicity is present in the solar wind. Its conservation is very important in dynamo processes. It also plays a role in fusion research, for example in reversed field pinch experiments.

There is now work to create plasma guns and systems that leverage magnetic helicity to fire plasmas at high speeds and enable nuclear fusion for energy production and space propulsion.

They are generating plasma jets. They use multiple guns that merge the plasma jets. Magnetic fields squeeze the plasma.

They are working on compression scaling.

The system scales down to 100 kilowatt systems. It would have increased thrust versus ion drives. It can scale up to many gigawatts and beyond.

They can scale the power by increasing from the minimum of 4 plasma guns to 32 guns and adding power recirculation. This would scale to spacecraft for superior interplanetary travel and then to interstellar capability.

A medium term system would enable a nuclear cargo cycler from the earth. It would be seven times more efficient than chemical rockets. A chemical rocket would need multiple refuelings to take 100 tons to the moon. This system would be half the weight of one fuel load launch but would be able to take 100 tons to the moon repeatedly.

Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

24 thoughts on “Pulsed Fusion Propulsion Progress”

  1. I saw the movie.

    Spoilers: for the first half the movie, she's actually one of the bad guys.

  2. It is good to be skeptical since they are still relatively early in their research.
    But in their defense, they are standing on some very solid research that has been conducted at two separate facilities. Also in their defense, they need to talk big right now in order to attract investors. Lowballing your prospects won't do that, especially when it comes to fusion research, which has been starved for funds for decades.

  3. UCF on this one.

    Ammonia may yet play a part. Enough for cooling, then vent out as jacketed thrust surrounding a hotter combustion stream even nozzles cannot handle?

  4. Now, in tornadoes, there is a phenomenon known as vortex breakdown…when the breakdown bubble meets the ground, you get multiple vortices…the chopper footage of the 1986 MN twister even showed a double helix formation which got me thinking about smokers, abiogenesis, the TED talk about Unilever nozzles….

    But—if the vortex breakdown only gets near the surface…you get a single super-concentrated suction vortex.

    This could mean a force besides magnetism could help concentrate things for fusion?

  5. Make the ship big enough to include a rotating ring plus shielding. Have to get out of the small tin can mentality. We have to start building ships instead of canoes.

  6. Lunar mascons could cause a rotovator trouble.
    But there are "frozen orbits" they could use.

  7. Based on the past decades, if a fusion reactor idea is announced with a press release full of spaceships and proposed space missions… then they don't actually have any nuclear fusion results to discuss.

    If there was any actual fusion happening, then that would be enough excitement that they wouldn't need the space mission powerpoint.

  8. Counting your chickens before they hatch, then assuming that each chicken will lay 1 egg per day, and then if those eggs hatch too, and those chickens also lay one egg per day….

  9. Sure, we can get anywhere in our solar system using an ion drive, if you want to take "forever" to get there. Solar travel has intrinsic risks, if your moving people, not just inorganic robots. You have the problem of long exposure to near zero-G, which makes everything in the human body fall apart, from musculature to our immune system.

    You also have exposure to radiation. We can either have spacecraft that generate gravity, and have enough hard material to shield occupants from radiation, or some kind of "plasma shield" that can do that. Or, you can go very fast, and not have to worry (so much) about those things.

  10. A fusion rocket to go to the moon would be like using a cannon to kill a mosquito. We can get anywhere we want in the solar system with a nuclear reactor and an ion drive. And we know how to build both. Just not enough interest to do so. And yes, we could build manned versions. See the movie "2001, A Space Odyssey" to see what it would look like.

    The Russians have put reactors cooled by sodium into orbit to power their space radar satellites. For a few billion, they would gladly build us a dozen, enough to send two manned ships to Jupiter.

  11. That's pretty typical of almost all fusion research, though. But most times they've extrapolated, when they tried to follow the extrapolation, they just discover some new instability.

  12. Feels like they're counting a LOT of Auk sized chickens before the first hummingbird is hatched.  

    IF this scales like this.
    AND IF that scales like this.
    AND IF mass scales like so.
    AND IF erosion doesn't bite us in the âhrse
    AND IF a way can be found to shield GW of fusion neutral particles
    AND IF …
    AND IF …
    AND IF …
    AND IF …

    Just saying.
    While they keenly don't use the 'if word', they sure do depend on a whole lot of scaling to go exactly as planned, or better than. 

    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  13. It's throwing a heck of a lot of power out the back end, you might manage some kind of "afterburner" that reduces ISP to a few hundred, but boosts the thrust enough for landing on the Moon. It wouldn't be required to supply more than about 4 km/s total delta V.

    Alternatively, the Moon has low enough gravity and orbital speed that a lunar orbit to surface rotovator is perfectly feasible without even using exotic materials, just Spectra. Such a "lunavator" could use an engine such as above for momentum balancing.


  14. According to "Table 1" in one of the slides, T/W ratios vary between 0.000276 and 0.0507, so I expect you'd have to haul a chemical lander.

  15. Are you suggesting this would have sufficient thrust to weight ratio to land on the Moon? Or just that it would take you to lunar orbit?

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