An Intensive Analysis of Lockheeds' Fusion Research
This article was written over a few weeks in November and December of 2016. As always, the best way to read this is on PDF – so I encourage you to download this off GitHub. The article is not perfect, but nothing ever is. Hopefully, it helps scientists, advocates, students and policy makers understand the newest and greatest insights into fusion research. Enjoy.
The Lockheed effort is happening at a time of great problems inside the fusion community. For many years, US fusion funding has been heavily focused on just one machine: ITER. This single project is eating the larger budget of the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences. Because of ITERs’ thirst for cash, many other concepts have been strangled or shut down. Often, researchers need to “show relevance” to ITER, otherwise they will run the risk of getting closed down. After years of this kind of single minded support, many good ideas are languishing. For example, the University of Washington has invented a new fusion concept called the dynomak. The team is seeking 30 million over five years . Their idea has a lot of promise. But the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences cannot and will not help them. The agency only cares about ITER. So the team, is turning to ARPA-E and private investment for support . In another example, the company EMC2, has published promising results on the polywell . To take the concept further they need 30 million in investment, but again – the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences is not helping . So many projects are hurting. In October, MIT had to shut down the Alacator tokamak due to a lack of funding . Also, the Levitating Dipole Experiment needs a few million over several years and the Plasma Liner Experiment at Los Alamos is surviving on limited ARPA-E funding [18, 19]. All this funding is being redistributed to ITER - and there is a strong argument that ITER will never lead to a commercial fusion power plant . As an American, this hurts my pride. The US has led the way in fusion research and we need to stay in front it. This technology has vast implications for our military, economic and cultural dominance. If the US want to change, it should try to use government money to lure dollars from private sector. A public-private partnerships is a good path forward.
Lockheed is positioned to show cusp confinement better than EMC2 was able to. So far, EMC2 is the only group that has published data on cusp confinement. This has been presented at a slew of professional talks [39 - 44] and in a published paper from 2014 . The company used x-rays to prove electrons were trapped for tens of microseconds longer than they should have been. They also used flux loops to measure a plasma-generated magnetic field. The team estimated a trapped plasma volume of ~5,000 cubic centimeters. This is not much data. This lack of interest frustrates me. We need multiple universities and companies looking at this – its implications are huge. This is also why Lockheeds’ effort is so exciting. Lockheed is positioned with the team, the tools and the funding to press forward - where EMC2 could not.
The Lockheed Martin Compact Fusion Reactor concept relies on a diamagnetic plasma behavior to produce sharp magnetic field boundaries and confine fusion plasma in a magnetically encapsulated, linear ring cusp geometry. Simulations show stable inflation to the high beta, sharp boundary state with constant thickness sheaths. Zero dimensional confinement models predict effectiveness of neutral beam heating to produce high electron temperatures in the T4B experiment. Those same models are used to determine the feasibility of an operation reactor and determine the required magnetic shielding performance for design closure. The T4B experiment will characterize and test plasma sources in the Compact Fusion Reactor geometry and conduct initial neutral beam heating experiments. The T4B design and diagnostics suite are presented.
- Plasma trapping happens inside a magnetic well, with self-producing sharp field boundary.
- The trap is encloses 200 MW of thermal plasma. This assumes the plasma trap has a sheath or skin which is the size of the hybrid gyroradius.
- The CFR uses neutral beams, to heat the plasma to an ignited state.
- The losses that dominate, are the ion losses through the ring cusps, into stalks and axially through the sheath.
- If the CFR gets good global curvature in the magnetic fields, then the plasma will be have interchange stability, over the entire volume.
- Bad curvature does exist. But it is confined to the bridge region. In this region, the plasma has a significantly reduced density. It also streaming and non-maxwellian.
- A big advantage of the CFR is its small size. That lets you make quick changes.
- The major physics concern with this concept is the sheath size, the stability, the plasma inflation, the stalks shielding and finally the blanket material.
- After an initial load of plasma, the simulation quickly settles into a high pressure, equilibrium state.
- Diamagnetic currents form. This is a surface current along the plasmas’ skin. This makes a near field-free region inside the surface.
- Fast ions, which are shot in using neutral beam injection, are effectively trapped.
- The plasma density is highest in the center. Density falls as you travel along the axis. It falls as you move through the small ring, by a factor of five. The density also falls outside the big ring, by a factor of ten.
- The sheath width is pretty much constant. It is dominated by an electric field; which is made by the plasma’s inner diamagnetic currents.
- The size of the cusps along the axis and by the rings, are decoupled. These are the holes in the trap. This seems to mean that the size of one, does not affect the other.
- They hypothesize that the size of the cusp will change, when they get to a stronger magnetic field.
If everything works as planned, this model predicts that you can turn off the neutral beam injection after a certain amount of time. That would be great - if it works. It means, you can fill it, get it fusing and then let it run. Awesome. This depends on the machine igniting. If everything works as planned, the CFR should generate about 320 megawatts of net power.
2. Sputnik. "Experts Lack Evidence to Assess Lockheed Nuclear Fusion Project." Sputnik International. Sputnik International, 06 Nov. 2014. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
3. Belfiore, Michael. "Lockheed Martin's Plan to Make Fusion (Finally) a Reality." Popular Mechanics. N.P., 30 Jan. 2015. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
4. McGuire, Thomas. Magnetic Field Plasma Confinement for Compact Fusion Power. US Patent Application, assignee. Patent 14/242,999. 2 Apr. 2014. Print.
5. McGuire, Thomas. Magnetic Field Plasma Confinement for Compact Fusion Power. World Intellectual Property Organization, assignee. Patent WO 2014/165641 A1. 9 Oct. 2014. Print.
6. S, Eric. "Compact Fusion Research & Development." YouTube. Lockheed Martin, 15 Oct. 2014. Web. 01 Nov. 2014.
7. McGuire, Thomas. Heating Plasma for Fusion Power Using Magnetic Field Oscillations. Baker Botts LLP, assignee. Issued: 4/2/14, Patent 14/243,447. N.D. Print.
8. McGuire, Thomas. "The Lockheed Martin Compact Fusion Reactor." Thursday Colloquium. Princeton University, Princeton. 6 Aug. 2015. Lecture.
9. Mehta, Aaron. "Lockheed Still Supporting Portable Nuclear Generator." Defense News. Defense News, 3 May 2016. Web. 22 May 2016.
10. The Migma principle of controlled fusion, Bogdan C. Maglich, Nuclear Instruments and Methods III (1973), p 213-235
11. Chang, Kenneth (February 27, 2007). "Practical Fusion, or Just a Bubble?” New York Times. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
12. Moynihan, Matthew. The Polywell Blog "Lockheed Blew It." N.P., 17 Oct. 2014. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. http://www.thepolywellblog.com/2014/10/lockheed-blew-it.html
13. Ma, Michelle. "Fusion Researchers Take a Different Approach to a Heated Conversation." UW Today. University of Washington, 24 Oct. 2014. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
15. Park, J. "High-Energy Electron Confinement in a Magnetic Cusp Configuration." Physical Review X. N.P., 11 June 2015. 06 Nov. 2015.
16. Boyle, Alan. "How Lockheed Martin's Power Play Could Boost Fervor Over Fusion." NBC News. NBC News, 16 Oct. 2014. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
17. Follet, Andrew. "MIT’s Fusion Reactor Breaks World Record, then Promptly Gets shut down." The Daily Caller. N.p., 16 Oct. 2016. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
18. Search for the Ultimate Energy Source: A History of the U.S. Fusion Energy” Page 185.
19. Hsu, Scott. "Energy Subcommittee Hearing - An Overview of Fusion Energy Science." Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Congress, 03 May 2016. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
20. Moynihan, Matt. "ITER Will Never Lead To Commercial Viability." The Polywell Blog. N.p., 19 Oct. 2015. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. http://www.thepolywellblog.com/2015/10/iter-will-not-work-commercially.html
21. Binderbauer, M. W. "A High Performance Field-reversed Configuration." A High Performance Field-reversed Configuration. AIP Physics of Plasma, 15 May 2015. Web. 23 May 2016.
22. Dumaine, Brian. "Why Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel, and Others Are Betting on Fusion." Fortune. N.p., 27 Sept. 2015. Web. 22 Nov. 2016.
23. Cole, K. D. "Diamagnetism in a Plasma." Physics of Plasmas 4.6 (1997): 2072. Web. 3 Dec. 2016.
24. Nave, R. "Magnetic Forces on Moving Charges." Magnetic Force on a Moving Charge. Georgia State University, n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2016.
25. Dolan, Thomas J. “Review Article: Magnetic Electrostatic Plasma Conﬁnement.” Vol. 1539-1593. N.p.: Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, 1994. Print.
26. "Beta (plasma Physics)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Nov. 2016. Web. 03 Dec. 2016.
27. Monreal, Benjamin. "Single-electron Cyclotron Radiation." Physics Today 69.1 (2016): 70-71. Web. 3 Dec. 2016.
28. Elder, F. R.; Gurewitsch, A. M.; Langmuir, R. V.; Pollock, H. C., "Radiation from Electrons in a Synchrotron" (1947) Physical Review, vol. 71, Issue 11, pp. 829-830.
29. Private conversation with Dr. Joel Rogers. 30 Sept. 2014.
30. Rogers, Joel G. "A “Polywell P+11B Power Reactor." The School of Physics. The University of Sydney. Web. December 2011.
31. McGuire, Thomas, Font Gabriel, Artan Qerushi, and Lockheed Martin Team. Lockheed Poster: “Martin Compact Fusion Reactor Concept, Confinement Model and T4B Experiment”. American Physical Society, Division of Plasma Physics 2016 Conference. Lockheed Martin, 29 Oct. 2016. Web. 3 Dec. 2016.
32. Gummersall, David V., Matthew Carr, Scott Cornish, and Joe Kachan. "Scaling Law of Electron Confinement in a Zero Beta Polywell Device." Physics of Plasmas 20.10 (2013): 102701. Web.
34. "An Interview With Thomas Ligon on The Polywell." Interview by Thomas Ligon. YouTube. YouTube, 25 May 2009. Web. 31 Aug. 2010.
35. Park, Jaeyoung, Nicholas A. Krall, and Paul E. Sieck. "High Energy Electron Confinement in a Magnetic Cusp Configuration." Physical Reviews X (2014): 1-12. 13 June 2014.
38. Morozov, A. I., and V. V. Savel'ev. "On Galateas” Magnetic Traps with Plasma-embedded Conductors." Physics-Uspekhi Russian Academy of Sciences 41.11 (1998): 1049-089. Web. 4 Dec. 2016.
40. Park, Jaeyoung (12 June 2014). SPECIAL PLASMA SEMINAR: Measurement of Enhanced Cusp Confinement at High Beta (Speech). Plasma Physics Seminar. Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of California, Irvine: Energy Matter Conversion Corp (EMC2) url=http://www.physics.uci.edu/seminar/special-plasma-seminar-measurement-enhanced-cusp-confinement-high-beta
52. Fromm, Jacob. "Numerical Solution of the Problem of Vortex Street Development." Physics of Fluids 6.975 (1963): 975-82. Print.
53. Ben Daniel, D. J. "Plasma Potential in a Magnetic Mirror System." Journal of Nuclear Energy. Part C, Plasma Physics, Accelerators, Thermonuclear Research 3.4 (1961): 235-41. Web. 4 Dec. 2016.
54. Huba, J.D. "2016 NRL PLASMA FORMULARY." Plasma Physics Division. Naval Research Laboratory, 2016. Print.
55. Energy, Fusion For. "Technology." Fusion for Energy. EUROFUSION, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2016.
56. "Development of the Indirect‐drive Approach to Inertial Confinement Fusion and the Target Physics Basis for Ignition and Gain." John Lindl. Page: 3937. AIP Physics of Plasma. American Institute of Physics, 14 June 1995.
57. "Proton." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. The Wikipedia Foundation, 28 Jan. 2012. Web. 02 Feb. 2012.
58. "Electron." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. The Wikipedia Foundation, 1 Feb. 2012. Web. 02 Feb. 2012.
59. "Classical Electron Radius." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. The Wikipedia Foundation, 29 Oct. 2011. Web. 02 Feb. 2012.
60. Spitzer, Lyman. Physics of Fully Ionized Gases. New York: Interscience, 1962. Print.
61. "Mirror Systems: Fuel Cycles, loss reduction and energy recovery" by Richard F. Post, BNES Nuclear fusion reactor conferences at Culham laboratory, September 1969.
62. Private conversation with Dr. Tom McGuire and Charles Chase. 15 Dec. 2013.
63. Goebel, D. M., J. T. Crow, and A. T. Forrester. "Lanthanum Hexaboride Hollow Cathode for Dense Plasma Production." Review of Scientific Instruments 49.4 (1978): 469. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
64. "Some Criteria for a Power producing thermonuclear reactor" John Lawson, Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Hanvell, Berks, 2nd November 1956
65. Nevins, W. M. (1995). "Can inertial electrostatic confinement work beyond the ion–ion collisional time scale?" (PDF). Physics of Plasmas. 2 (10): 3804.
B. Jarboe, T.r., B.s. Victor,B.a. Nelson, C.j. Hansen, C. Akcay, D.a. Ennis, N.k. Hicks, A.c. Hossack, G.j.Marklin, and R.j. Smith. "Imposed-dynamo Current Drive." Nucl. Fusion Nuclear Fusion 52.8 (2012): 083017.
C. McGuire, Thomas. "The Lockheed Martin Compact Fusion Reactor." Thursday Colloquium. Princeton University, Princeton. 6 Aug. 2015. Lecture.
D. Park, J. "High-Energy Electron Confinement in a Magnetic Cusp Configuration." Physical Review X.N.p., 11 June 2015. 06 Nov. 2015.
E. Wobig, H., T. Andreeva, and C.D. Beidler. "Recent Development in Helias Reactor Studies." 19thIAEA- Fusion Energy Conference. IAEA FT/1-6, n.d. 04 Apr. 2016.
F. Wesson, John; et al. (2004).Tokamaks. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850922-7.
G. Spitzer, Lyman. "The Stellarator Concept." Physics of Fluids (1958): n. pag. 4 Apr. 2016.
H. Perea, A., R. Martin, J.l.Alvarez Rivas, J. Botija, J.r. Cepero, J.a. Fabregas, J. Guasp, A. LopezFraguas, A. Perez-Navarro, E. Rodriguez Solano, B.a. Carreras, K.k. Chipley,T.c. Hender, T.c. Jernigan, J.f. Lyon, and B.e. Nelson. "Description of the Heliac Tj-Ii And Its research System." Fusion Technology 1986 (1986):673-78.
I. Miller, R.l., and R.a. Krakowski. "Modular Stellarator Fusion Reactor Concept." Los AlamosLA-8978MS (1981): 1-161. 4 Apr. 2016.
J. Proc. of 20th International Stellarator-Heliotron Workshop (ISHW), Max Planck Institute, Greifswald, Germany. Greifswald, 2015.
K. Grieger, G., J. Nührenberg,H. Renner, J. Sapper, and H. Wobig. "HELIAS Stellarator Reactor Studiesand Related European Technology Studies." Fusion Engineering and Design25.1-3 (1994): 73-84. 4 Apr. 2016.
L. Haines, M. G. "A Review of the Dense Z -pinch." Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion 53.9 (2011): 093001.
M. Jarboe, T. R. "Review of Spheromak Research." Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion 36.6 (1994): 945-90.
N. Slutz, Stephen A., and Roger A. Vesey. "High-Gain Magnetized Inertial Fusion." Phys. Rev. Lett. Physical Review Letters 108.2 (2012): n. page 4 Apr. 2016.
O. "Mirror Systems: Fuel Cycles, loss reduction and energy recovery" by Richard F. Post, BNES Nuclear fusion reactor conferences at Culham laboratory, September 1969.
P. "Overview of LDX Results" Jay Kesner, A. Boxer, J. Ellsworth, I. Karim, Presented at the APS Meeting, Philadelphia, November 2, 2006, Paper VP1.00020
Q. Krishnan, Mahadevan."The Dense Plasma Focus: A Versatile Dense Pinch for Diverse Applications." IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci. IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science40.12 (2012): 3189-221. Web.
R. Hedditch, John."arXiv. org e-Print archive Physics ArXiv:1510.01788." Fusion in a Magnetically-shielded-grid Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Device. ArXiv, 7Oct. 2015. Web. 22 Dec. 2015.
S. Robert L. Hirsch," Inertial-Electrostatic Confinement of Ionized Fusion Gases", Journal of Applied Physics, v. 38, no. 7, October 1967
T. Park, J., and R. A. Nebel."Periodically Oscillating Plasma Sphere." Physics of Plasmas 12.5(2005): n. pag. AIP. Web. 22 May 2016.
U. Tuszewski, M. "Field Reversed Configurations." Nuclear Fusion Nuclear Fusion 28.11 (1988):2033-092. Web. 22 May 2016.
V. Hsu, S. C., A. L. Moser, E.C. Merritt, C. S. Adams, J. P. Dunn, S. Brockington, A. Case, M. Gilmore, A. G. Lynn, S. J. Messer, and F. D. Witherspoon. "Laboratory Plasma Physics Experiments Using Merging Supersonic Plasma Jets." J. Plasma Phys. Journal of Plasma Physics 81.02 (2014): n. pag. Web. 22 May 2016.
X. Berkowitz, J., K.o. Friedrichs, H. Goertzel, H. Grad, J. Killeen, and E. Rubin. "Cusped Geometries." Journal of Nuclear Energy (1954) 7.3-4 (1958): 292-93. Web.16 June 2014.
Y. Barnes, D. C., M. M. Schauer, K. R. Umstadter, L. Chacon, and G. Miley. "Electron Equilibrium and Confinement in a Modified Penning Trap and Its Application to Penning Fusion." Physics of Plasmas Phys. Plasmas 7.5 (2000): 1693. Web. 22 May2016.
Z. Kodama, R., P. A. Norreys, K.Mima, A. E. Dangor, R. G. Evans, H. Fujita, Y. Kitagawa, K. Krushelnick, T.Miyakoshi, N. Miyanaga, T. Norimatsu, S. J. Rose, T. Shozaki, K. Shigemori,
A.Sunahara, M. Tampo, K. A. Tanaka, Y. Toyama, T. Yamanaka, and M. Zepf."Fast Heating of Ultrahigh-density Plasma as a Step towards Laser Fusion Ignition." Nature 412.6849 (2001): 798-802. Web.
AA. Nuckolls, John; Wood, Lowell; Thiessen, Albert; Zimmerman, George (1972), "Laser Compression of Matter to Super-High Densities: Thermonuclear (CTR) Applications" (PDF),Nature 239 (5368): 139–142, Bibcode:1972Natur.239..139N, doi:10.1038/239139a0,retrieved August 23, 2014
BB. Laberge, Michel. "An Acoustically Driven Magnetized Target Fusion Reactor." Journal of Fusion Energy J Fusion Energy 27.1-2 (2007): 65-68. 22 May 2016.
CC. Meyer-Ter-Vehn, J." Inertial Confinement Fusion Driven by Heavy Ion Beams." Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion 31.10 (1989): 1613-628.Web. 22 May 2016.