Executive Intelligence Review


Compact Fusion Reactor Would Revolutionize Earth and Space Transportation

April 1, 2018 (EIRNS)—Aerospace/defense giant, Lockheed-Martin’s famous “Skunk Works,” known for its groundbreaking advances in aeronautics technology, has been working since 2014 on an alternative, non-tokamak compact concept for producing fusion energy. The company’s fusion research made it into the media recently as it was granted a patent in February for the compact fusion design.

The goal is a fusion reactor that can produce 100 MW of electricity, and that is small enough to be mounted on a truck, an aircraft, a ship, train, submarine, or spacecraft. A reactor of this size could power a city of between 50-100,000 people, and would be especially well suited to remote locations and for developing countries. Such a power source could also be crucial for desalination to provide fresh water. The advantages of cheap, universally available, and inexhaustible fuel are discussed, since 55 pounds of fuel is sufficient to run the reactor for a year.

Aspects of the challenging required scientific and technical developments have been undergoing testing in a progression of designs. In an interview with Aviation Week & Space Technology on 2014, Thomas McGuire, who was leading the fusion team, explained that it was possible with such a small reactor, to test new designs in less than a year. “We would like to have a prototype in five generations,” he said. The fusion team now hopes to have a prototype next year.

McGuire, who is an aeronautical engineer, explained in the interview that he began looking at fusion designs while in graduate school, under a NASA grant, “charged with how we could get to Mars quickly.” Being disappointed at what he found in the literature on fusion propulsion concepts, he set out to develop something new. Lockheed-Martin describes the compact fusion reactor as potentially creating a technology revolution.