Who will be the first to create fusion reactor? This is still an open-ended question, however, Lockheed Martin will soon assemble device of this type.
Mass production of highly-efficient graphene batteries, hydrogen batteries, and compact fusion reactor are the three all-too-familiar themes that will soon be much discussed, however, so far no one can boast of noteworthy progress towards creation of them. And now, Lockheed Martin, American global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies company, has made a promising start – it has recently received a patent for the encapsulating magnetic fields for plasma confinement. The patent describes the fusion reactor itself and its constituent parts.
The company reports that innovative reactor (that supposedly will be created in 2019) will be the clean alternative to nuclear power plants. Lockheed Martin has long been talking about early creation of fusion reactor by Skunk Works development team, but today this ambitious plan has some outlines and tentative dates.
Thermonuclear fusion is still the cherished dream of power engineers, environmental specialists, and many other experts engaged in other fields. Traditional nuclear reactors driven by nuclear fission use radioactive elements with heavy atoms. However, in case of emergency, there is a strong possibility that reaction will get out of control, radioactive contamination will occur, etc. Fusion reactor, in its turn, operates on gas (non-radioactive) that heats to a high temperature and generates free electrons and ions. Ions fuse and light elements morph into heavy elements. Fusion reaction generates huge volumes of energy – millions of times bigger than those of chemical reaction, and 3 to 4 times bigger than those of nuclear fission. If, for whatever reason, this device becomes uncontrollable, it will shut down without the impact on the environment.
The fusion reactor of Lockheed Martin Corporation will be comparable to intermodal container. This device will be able to generate a constant 100 megawatts of power, which is enough to provide electricity to the city with 100,000 residents. Moreover, this reactor is capable of powering huge vessels, like Nimitz-class supercarriers of the United States Navy. Furthermore, it will reduce the cost of sea water desalination by 60% and will help to deliver fresh water to planet’s most arid regions. Thus, as estimated by company’s engineers, Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, strategic airlifter active in the U.S. Air Force (holds world’s third position as to load capacity after An-225 Mriya and An-124 Ruslan), if equipped with a compact fusion reactor, will stay in the air for a year powered by several bottles of hydrogen. At some future date, compact-sized powerful reactor will simplify and expedite Mars missions – researchers at the company that participated, inter alia, in Curiosity project, believe that it will take one month only, rather than six months, to reach the Red Planet.