Reply to post: Patents

Scientists skeptical of Lockheed Martin's truck-sized fusion reactor breakthrough boast

Flocke Kroes Silver badge


I think your right about this being a patent scam, but there are lots of things to patent. Pretend Lockheed get a pile of investors to fund a prototype-mini-tokamak-for-aircraft subsidiary. A decade from now, the subsidiary goes bankrupt, but in the mean time it has hire Lockheed to make all the parts needed for a fusion reactor (not just the tokamak), and Lockheed has got all that experience for free.

They will need big superconducting magnets, and the cryogenics to cool them.

The easiest fusion reaction is deuterium + tritium. Tritium has a half life of 8 days, so you have to make it yourself. The obvious way to make tritium is to use the neutron flux from a tokamak to break up lithium. A complete fusion reactor includes a lithium jacket and all the machinery required to separate tritium from lithium.

While we are at it, a fusion reactor creates helium, which you want to get out of the reactor before it cools things down. One of the many complicated bits of ITER is getting some of the fuel/helium mixture out, separating out the helium and pumping the fuel back in again.

Getting the fuel it is fun too. Freeze it solid and shoot in pellets of fuel with a gas gun.

Even if Lockheed has a magic tokamak design that fits on an aeroplane, all the extras needed to make it go would not fit on an aircraft carrier. Lockheed should not be comparing their device with ITER anyway. ITER is a huge steam factory to investigate the technology. The prototype for a commercial electricity generating reactor is the gigantic (fictional) DEMO.

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