Defense Giant Lockheed Martin Announced a Major Breakthrough in Nuclear Energy Fusion
It's the buzz of the energy industry, Lockheed Martin made a huge announcement- a technological breakthrough in fusion reactor design. The aerospace and defense company announced on Wednesday that its highly secretive Skunk Works has made a dramatic breakthrough in fusion energy.
Tom McGuire, who heads the energy project, said that a research team had been working on fusion energy project at Lockheed's Skunk works for about four years, and that team has found a way to make a nuclear fusion reactor that's 10 times smaller than previously thought possible. If successfully done, the reactor would be small enough to fit inside a trailer-truck and would bring dramatic changes to the energy industry. Lockheed's fusion project offers a significant reduction in size compared to mainstream efforts. The company hopes to build a far smaller reactor than current designs, and if everything goes well, it expects the project to see military deployment within a decade and commercial fusion power within 20 years or more.
Called the compact fusion reactor (CFR), it offers a much safer, cleaner and more powerful than much larger, more complex, current reactor designs that rely on fission energy (the process of splitting atoms to release an energy). The compact nature of Lockheed's design scales everything down including development time and deployment. Lockheed believes that its scalable concept make it practical enough to fit for various applications ranging from interplanetary space programs, military, commercial ships planes, planes to cities. Although Lockheed released limited amount of information about the CFR in 2013, the company is now providing new details of its breakthrough. Lockheed's current experiments are focused on a containment vessel roughly the size of an ordinary business jet-type engine, connected to sensors, injectors, a turbo pump to generate an internal vacuum and batteries. Here super-hot plasma is controlled by strong magnetic fields (generated by a series of superconducting coils) that prevent it from touching the wall of the vessel and, if goes well the plasma confinement is sufficiently constrained, the ions overcome their mutual repulsion and fuse to produce energy.
Lockheed's announcement has created a lot of publicity and buzz in the industry, but energy experts point to the lack of details and clear results, suggesting that nuclear fusion is still a long way off. Getting energy from fusion is extremely difficult and that the technological requirements are simply too high. Fusion requires incredibly high temperatures and pressures, which is challenging and hard. Lockheed Martin use this big announcement to advertise their works and profitability to potential investors in Lockheed's CFR designs, they want someone with formidable resources and expertise to join them so they can develop it.
Overall, Lockheed's fusion investment is quite exciting and potentially world-changing development. Fusion is considered by many as a much safer, cheaper,cleaner and more efficient than conventional nuclear fission energy, It can provide a more reliable and secure energy sources that's could go for many years.
*Image courtesy of Daily Mail UK
About Erwin Castro
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