Lockheed - fork in the road

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Richard Hull
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Lockheed - fork in the road

Post by Richard Hull » Thu Nov 18, 2021 5:41 am

Well..........Those among us knew it was a joke. More, "I told you so", comments all around now.

https://lynceans.org/wp-content/uploads ... verted.pdf

The 2014 promise of fusion at power in the small Lockheed Skunk Works fusion T series reactor in 5 years came and went. The latest 2021 update is "We hoped to have model T4 up, but T4B mod was in 2019 also bred a newer model T5." Oh, you remember that "load it on a truck" promise...Well that's now out the window guys. We got plans now for a T6, T7 and expect T8 to be the real deal now. You just wait we are on it now. We are so serious we are planning a TX reactor, (if all the T4-T8 reactors pan out), and plan to reduce the TX 2000ton monster down to only 200 tons......That truck deal?? We were just joshin' ya' all along.

Remember that video, "Big dreams, little screens" about the development of TV?

Regarding fusion at Lockheed, it is, Big dreams, little reactor....Big dreams, little bigger reactor..... Big dreams, much bigger reactor...Big dreams, Leviathan, etc.. Lockheed is new to fusion and they are allowed to use the "real soon now" old saw. We will not admonish them for that hope.

Fusion is the energy of the future and it always will be.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Dennis P Brown
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Re: Lockheed - fork in the road

Post by Dennis P Brown » Fri Nov 19, 2021 8:45 pm

Not surprised - tokamak concepts are a utter dead end for so many reasons I'd laugh but that is too painful considering they are building one of those death traps; stellarator's will likely hold a fusion grade plasma indefinitely and so what? The cost of those experimental devices if built to a level that could deliver net power would be extreme (on a par with a fission reactor in final cost - and I mean a unit that would barely achieve net power for that staggering cost) but worse, any such magnetic confined fusion reactor is a nightmare - protecting the magnets and replacing the chambers are so cost prohibitive there is zero chance for commercial power. Inertia fusion is a dead end thanks to NIF using the wrong approach (weapon design only) and laser wavelength.

Still, thank the military that current commercial fission is too expensive and unsafe; their required reactor is a disaster waiting to happen for commercial plants and why safety system costs drive the price of these reactor designs to levels no one can afford to build. Oak Ridge developed and then proved that liquid salt, fast neutron reactors were viable, ultra safe, and cheaper to build and even operate and that was in the 70's. We have no such plants currently (one might be moving ahead as a 10 megawatt future experimental test reactor but not holding my breath.) Yet that design is exactly what is needed to revive the fission based nuclear power industry but no existing reactor company will build such a design unless the military would also buy it - and they never will. It doesn't provide the energy density they need. So, tragically, that carbon free source is still in decline with no future.

So, fusion will remain the energy of the future and always will be ... in the future. Richards words are truer still.

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Richard Hull
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Re: Lockheed - fork in the road

Post by Richard Hull » Fri Nov 19, 2021 9:54 pm

China and India will be the proving ground for the molten salt fission breeder reactors. That is a ray of hope for a newer fission possibility. There is a lot more Thorium on earth than Uranium. We will see what comes of those two nuclear researching cultures. They need power now at a level that we can't appreciate due strictly to their populations demands increasing beyond their grid capacity.

If molten salt/thorium breeders ever make it, it will be due to the efforts of these two countries proving it.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Dennis P Brown
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Re: Lockheed - fork in the road

Post by Dennis P Brown » Sat Nov 20, 2021 9:23 pm

Standard solid core thorium based reactors are, of course, a type of breeder and are bad news for many reasons (they require plutonium and breed weapons grade uranium)- that is why most countries will not build these reactors when safer reactors are available - another issue is India has been getting ready to build a real energy producing thorium reactor for well over a decade and ... crickets. Maybe this time they will but seeing is believing - when and if it comes on line. Still these are expensive to fuel and can melt down - in which case the weapon grade fuels pose a huge risk of a possible breaching event of the reactor building if these fuels get too close during a core melt down.

Oak Ridge did build a liquid salt pure uranium fueled reactor (not a breeder and safer than even a conventual 'solid' core reactor) back in the 60's and of course, no military application meant no commercial interest so it was abandoned. There are reasons solid core thorium based reactors have been ignored and safety is a big one, besides proliferation - all thorium reactors require a weapon grade fuel as part of its operation since thorium doesn't undergo natural fission itself.

The incredible thing about the newest version of the molten salt (ceramic fuel stock used in a liquid state) fast neutron reactor is they can burn waste uranium fuel from the vast existing stockpiles (a straight forward Japanese process converts these wastes into a easy to use ceramic fuel that melts at 400 C or so); in the case of the US this would enable these types of plants to provide/meet all of our electrical needs (current rates) for the next hundred years and destroy (via consuming) the entire stockpile of these deadly, impossible to safely store radioactive nuclides. Yet here we are, building nothing.

*Turns out China is "building" a 2 MW liquid salt thorium based reactor (talk about a baby step - apparently an exact copy of the Oak Ridge design except smaller and using thorium with weapon grade uranium). As I said, we'll see; still isn't operational and will not deliver power to the grid.

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