Is the skunk works skunked?

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
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Richard Hull
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Is the skunk works skunked?

Post by Richard Hull »

The Skunk Works

Read all this for content. No update since 2019...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_ ... on_Reactor

What happened to T5? 2019 was the build year. All the predecessors failed. As I personally expected.
I know.... Covid at the skunk works stalled the effort. Great excuse up front.
Only crickets heard since 2019.
Missed their bold and brash claim of one year target to real fusion in 2016 and in 2020, but it is always one year out....Isn't it?
They are to be forgiven however, as they are new to fusion and haven't seen or discovered the "real soon now" mantra is sooo yesterday in the fusion biz.

Then there is Helion

https://www.helionenergy.com/

Keep your eye on these guys! Way more flash than the stinky old skunk works. Spinning their wheels right along with the very best of 'em

As Jimmy Durante used to say..."Everybody wants to get into da' act"..... And why not? It seems to pay well.

So many new comers and late bloomers with dreams that tempt investors to toss their money into the fusion pit. The real fusion is real money fusing into investigator and workers pockets. In this latter fusion quip, ITER is the master effort. Poor JET falling into second place as "the fusion money pit." The startups are all chump change absorbers of the fusion money. Just tens of millions in their boondoggles, thus far.

Hey, nothing ventured nothing gained. Right?! A total and utter fail will have kept many employed for however long it takes to prove the effort was a load of crap, however well intentioned, and regardless of the money substances lost to the gullible investors. The failure will not be a big deal. Its memory will slip quietly beneath the waves like a good ship lollypop torpedoed by the realities of physics.

Full speed ahead me hearties... Haaar... There be chests of gold on them high seas of fusion...All fer th' takin'. Belay those doubts or you'll be a chasin' away them treasure ships, and we'll see to ye walkin' th' plank, matey.

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
The more complex the idea put forward by the poor amateur, the more likely it will never see embodiment
Alex Aitken
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Re: Is the skunk works skunked?

Post by Alex Aitken »

The CEO of Helion was recently doing stunts for youtubers. Helion talks loudly about the engineering hacks that will make the final product work all of which hinge on the core idea... and avoid revealing that the core idea, which is very similar to things tried in the 60's, fundamentally doesn't work.
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Richard Hull
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Re: Is the skunk works skunked?

Post by Richard Hull »

Correct Alex! Many of the concepts were tried in one form or another in the 50's under secret programs during Project Sherwood, and the 60's when security was lifted. Many dead end fusion efforts were canceled/defunded by Robert Hirsch when he was in charge of AEC's thermonuclear projects division. in the late 60's.

I was rather stunned to discover that about 500 million has been burned through by the sum total of all the private industry fusion startups in recent years, none of it government money. I bet it is more than that. Those poor investors! I guess they have the money to burn on these "feel good" future green power investments.

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
The more complex the idea put forward by the poor amateur, the more likely it will never see embodiment
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Richard Hull
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Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 9:44 am
Real name: Richard Hull

Re: Is the skunk works skunked?

Post by Richard Hull »

Correct Alex! Many of the concepts were tried in one form or another in the 50's under secret programs during Project Sherwood, and then again in the 60's when security was lifted. Many dead end fusion efforts were canceled/defunded by Robert Hirsch when he was in charge of AEC's thermonuclear projects division in the late 60's.

I was rather stunned to discover that about 500 million has been burned through by the sum total of all the private fusion startups in recent years, none of it government money. I bet it is more than that. Those poor investors! I guess they have the money to burn on these "feel good" future green power investments.

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
The more complex the idea put forward by the poor amateur, the more likely it will never see embodiment
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Nicolas Krause
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Re: Is the skunk works skunked?

Post by Nicolas Krause »

This youtube video offers a good overview of the arguments against Helion. The channel, Improbable Matter has some nice general explainers of fusion concepts as well!
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