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Old 10-15-2014, 06:57 PM   #21
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Wow. If such a promising ("incredible"--in the most derogatory sense?) announcement was from small startup company I wouldn't give it much credence, but coming from Lockheed, this could really mean something.
Not so fast, I am afraid. I recall bunch of IBM TV ads that looked like something out of this world and never came into fruition (or at least years away still). There are many more "promises" besides IBM's that were never met. I will believe it when Rockheed's technology shows up in shelf in 10 years.
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Old 10-15-2014, 06:59 PM   #22
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Considering where my pension check comes from I should refrain comment.

BUT. Long ago and in a different location I did download a Curmudgeon Certificate from this very forum.



heh heh heh - Once I took a temporary 6 month transfer to New Orleans that lasted thirty years. Geaux Saints, Yea Royals, hurray LM. May all your engineering glitches be resolved with speed and dispatched with elegence.
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Old 10-15-2014, 07:19 PM   #23
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I had KMS Fusion stock back in the 80s. Break even was "just around the corner".

Hope it's real this time.


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Matter/antimatter
Old 10-15-2014, 07:19 PM   #24
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Matter/antimatter

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Originally Posted by Lakewood90712 View Post
Going out a hundred years or more, it's the only thing imaginable as a large power source, to replace fossil fuel and nuke fission plants. Using fission reactors, we could run out of uranium, after the fossil fuels are mostly gone. Solar/ wind will not be enough, no idea if wave power can be harassed.
Well in 100 years we are likely to have matter/antimatter power systems. It sounds like science fiction, the star trek power source, but a few antimatter particles have been held in place magnetically in CERN this year so like the first atomic pile at the U of Chicago proved the possibility and atomic developments followed, I suspect that matter/antimatter will develop in due course. Very powerful, very clean, inherently safe and , currently, ridiculously expensive to build.
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:01 AM   #25
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Umm... When antimatter collides with matter, huge amount of energy is released. However, it takes HUGE, really HUGE, amount of energy to create antimatter in the first place, so it would not be a net gain. The ratio is currently about 1 billion to one.

On the other hand, fuel for the hopeful fusion energy would be found readily around us, such as deuterium which is in 0.016% of ocean water.

PS. Antimatter is not at all safe. It is difficult to contain, as it would annihilate itself against ordinary matter and release huge amount of heat. Hence, it is a good thing that they could create and contain a few hundred atoms at a time in a vacuum using a magnetic, electric, or laser trap.

PPS. I did a little calculation, and found that 1 gram of antimatter has the energy of 20,000 tons of TNT. It would make a very powerful pocket bomb if one knows how to suspend it in an evacuated small bomb casing. Detonation means simply turning off the suspension and letting the little 1 gram ball drop and touch the casing.
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:20 AM   #26
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Many experts in the field already voiced skepticism about this Lockheed claim.

For example, see: Scientists skeptical of Lockheed Martin's truck-sized FUSION reactor breakthrough.
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Old 10-16-2014, 06:35 AM   #27
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About time to see some promising advances in fusion. I have always believed that we can develop our way out of the need for fossil fuels. Sounds like this may come to fruition in 20+ years starting us on that glide path. Couple fusion with the new advances in batteries for our vehicles (charging in minutes) plus some unknown unknown advances and we could really leap ahead on the energy front. Add in a few technologies to protect the coasts from the inevitable floods and some drought resistant crops (we are already at or past the warming tipping point) and we are golden.
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Old 10-16-2014, 09:33 AM   #28
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Ignoring the specifics of the energy source, if energy costs do go up, then the market changes. Saving energy will become more cost-effective. At $0.09 kwh electricity, I don't care a lot about small savings. At $0.30-50 kwh as some in the world pay, it makes more sense to conserve.

Higher energy prices will drive savings on the efficiency side.
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Old 10-16-2014, 09:42 AM   #29
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Higher energy prices will drive savings on the efficiency side.
I think it might be more accurate to say "higher energy prices will drive higher expenses on the efficiency side. If energy prices go higher, I might add insulation to my attic, but the spending comes at the expense of something else that I would have preferred if energy costs had stayed low. And it remains an expense, not a savings. Over time I hope to spend less money than I would have otherwise, but it wouldn't be an optimum use of my money overall (compared to other uses) if energy prices hadn't gone up (else I should have bought the insulation earlier).

If cheap fusion energy comes to pass, we'll need to stop thinking about increased energy use as environmentally suspect. Cheap, clean energy can be used to address and remediate a lot of existing environmental problems.
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Old 10-16-2014, 10:05 AM   #30
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As someone that works with the "other" use of fusion, I see the following problems:
1) it is very hard to initiate the fusion reactions, then the containment of the plasma while controlling the rate of the reactions
2) fuel source is not readily available
3) hazardous materials
4) radiation, especially irrational public perceptions and fears

I encourage the research and wish success. However it is not as easy as the articles and press releases seem to indicate.
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Old 10-16-2014, 11:22 AM   #31
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Mere mention of "matter/anti-matter experiment" scares me. Isn't it the stuff that can destroy everything if they clash?

Replace fossil fueled cars with nuclear fusion fueled cars? That sounds like picking a lesser evil except do we know which one is "less?"
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Old 10-16-2014, 11:33 AM   #32
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Same as a commenter in a link I provided in an earlier post, I am skeptical that this will fan out. It is highly unlikely that a young engineer managed to do what so many before him failed, even if he had a PhD from a prestigious school (don't they all?).

And if this is so close to being fruitful, why doesn't Lockheed spend more money on this world-changing invention, and the engineer had to go outside looking for a partner for more money?
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Old 10-16-2014, 11:34 AM   #33
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Mere mention of "matter/anti-matter experiment" scares me. Isn't it the stuff that can destroy everything if they clash? .........
Hell, I'm scared of the delete button on my keyboard.
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Old 10-16-2014, 11:36 AM   #34
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And I often wish I hit the delete button than not.
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Old 10-16-2014, 11:53 AM   #35
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If cheap fusion energy comes to pass, we'll need to stop thinking about increased energy use as environmentally suspect. Cheap, clean energy can be used to address and remediate a lot of existing environmental problems.
+1

One example is water in certain areas (where I live the problem is often to much water...). A string of desalination plants powered by cheap small fusion or fission plants could provide plenty of water to California without building more reservoirs or canals.

Another example is drastically reducing the problem of tankers and oil spills.
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Old 10-16-2014, 11:53 AM   #36
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And if this is so close to being fruitful, why doesn't Lockheed spend more money on this world-changing invention, and the engineer had to go outside looking for a partner for more money?
The Optimist: It makes sense for Lockheed to seek outside partners (money, nuclear engineering, and big civil project expertise) because the race is on. If they've hit on a novel approach that might work, somebody else can do it, too. They are way better off to be seen as the lead of a team of groundbreaking companies, locking in their 3% of whatever this turns into, than taking a decade longer to do it in house and getting beat out.

The Cynic: Lockheed doesn't need for this thing to actually work in order to make a lot of money. Just keep hope alive as long as possible, and soak up all the DoD, DoE, DARPA, and any private development money that can be had for a decade or so. Lockheed knows how to get government money. The field is littered with fusion attempts that didn't pan out, so they wouldn't bring much discredit on themselves ("we said it was high risk, and we learned a lot, bringing the day closer when . . .")
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:20 PM   #37
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Here are a couple of tidbits gleaned from many comments on the story.

1. LM isn't claiming it created a working, net-power-positive fusion reactor, nor that it is even close. The media is hyping the wrong "breakthrough".

2. LM is claiming that it has come up with a design for a fusion reactor that is substantially smaller than current technology. The implications of this are that the costs of construction will be substantially reduced, the power required to create fusion reactions will be substantially lower, etc... all possibly leading to the construction of a viable, net-power-positive reactor sometime in the not-too-distant future.

I would rather have a company like LM develop a viable fusion reactor since unlike academia, there is a clear profit motive involved. Funding, staffing, management for the R&D would hopefully be akin to that of of SpaceX or other private companies driven by a cheaper, faster and more efficient way to do things. A major difference between SpaceX and LM is that the former is building on existing, workable space technology, whereas the latter has no viable fusion reactor to improve. Then again, fusion research has been going on for decades, so perhaps there is a "critical mass" (pun intended) of R&D available, needing only a slight push to get over the viability line.
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Old 10-16-2014, 03:22 PM   #38
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My career was mostly with large corps like Lockheed, and it was in R&D so I was able to see how this developed.

A young hotshot engineer came up with a novel idea, and was able to start a proof-of-concept project. Then, after a couple of years when it became clear that it would require greater commitment, meaning mucho money, to continue further, upper management would say that they wanted to see some outsider's interests.

A big part of it was to see if a 3rd party would "buy" the idea. Remember that upper management is often not as technical as the researchers to judge on the technical merits, but they are smart enough to see the response of outside interests, who would bring in their own experts.

And I have seen large projects costing several hundred millions from the corp and interested parties going down the tube this way, with nothing much to save at the end.

PS. What often happened was that the novel feature of a design that set it apart from the previous state of the art brought about a different and new shortcoming, which turned out to be crucial and insurmountable in the end, and doomed the entire project. And this was after they already demonstrated working prototypes! Sadly, the prototypes kept breaking down and had a very short life, or other deficiencies that made them inferior to the previous machines.
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Old 10-16-2014, 04:14 PM   #39
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Mere mention of "matter/anti-matter experiment" scares me. Isn't it the stuff that can destroy everything if they clash?

"
You aren't going to get your warp core started without it

Just sayin'

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Old 10-16-2014, 04:20 PM   #40
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You aren't going to get your warp core started without it

Just sayin'

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