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Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/16/2014 4:24 PM

Lockheed announces new reduced size magnetic confinement fusion reactor that will mostly allow fusion powered military vehicles within 5 years, and fusion power driving gas turbines all over the world in ten years. Not kiddin!

http://www.theengineer.co.uk/news/lockheed-claims-fundamental-fusion-breakthrough/1019361.article?cmpid=tenews_603331#video

Check it out, as far as I am concerned, this is the coolest thing to come down the pipe in a long, long time.

I put this in Aerospace, but it would also fit within Sustainable Engineering. I don't know if Mechanical Engineering really fits with this (yet).

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#1

Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/16/2014 4:29 PM

I wonder how this will effect today's energy engineering students?

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#8
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/17/2014 10:25 AM

For most, it will be playing catch-up on the ball field, constantly running AFTER a ball that the colleges should have been in front of, like a good short-stop spearing a ground-hopper. The problem is that colleges are run by, and directed by (note, not necessarily TAUGHT by) old fossilized, arrogant dynosaurs who learned it (mostly) in school, and have never been on the front lines of design. As a result, even if they continually study to keep up (and to give them credit, most do) they are still only current on what is already 5-10 years old. With something that looks enough like a world-shaker, such as this, they'll be playing catch-up for at least a decade AFTER the fact, before they get anywhere near up to date.

The result, for those of us still in the job market, with good ENGINEERING skills, developed by use, and with the burning desire of any good engineer to "make things work better", or even to "make things do what they weren't (quite) designed to do", i.e., to push the operational envelope, jobs may be more available, with or without a current, or indeed, any, degree.

Current Energy Engineering students? They'll have to be looking where their professors AREN'T (most of them, anyway) sending them. But the really good professors, whose desire is to impart wisdom, and knowledge, and to fuel that fire of invention, will point their students in directions they, themselves, may not know as much about. And all, including the professors who do such, will gain. And THERE lies the hope for Academic quality in the future!

Not in the tenured dynosaurs!

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#9
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/17/2014 10:35 AM

Potential Student, 'What should we do Mr. Redfred?"

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#13
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/17/2014 2:19 PM

Live your life and let me live mine.

Next.

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#14
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/17/2014 2:33 PM

I unsubscribed from that thread, but that is a good reply.

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#2

Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/16/2014 4:35 PM
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#3

Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/16/2014 5:16 PM

Read that already and there are a number of technical hurdles to cross that need a lot more work.

So, I am thinking we need to wait and see, but 5 years sounds like someone in marketing is wagging their chin at the bar.

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#4

Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/16/2014 5:16 PM

The two time frames sound reversed. The static applications will be easier than the mobile ones.

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#5

Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/16/2014 5:28 PM

I've always thought it was funny that the two brothers who started Lockheed changed the spelling of their last name so people would pronounce the name properly.

The original spelling was Loughead, which people mis-pronounced as 'Lug head'.

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#6
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/16/2014 8:43 PM

I learned something new, my work here is done.

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#10
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/17/2014 12:30 PM

True, and amazingly funny, no doubt. Why not cheer them on and wish them Godspeed? I do. I hope all detractors will be chewing up and swallowing words they spewed forth early on.

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#7

Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/17/2014 12:52 AM

Fogetaboutit.

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#11
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/17/2014 12:33 PM

So what? Is that a flux capacitor in your back pocket, or are you having big butt Friday?

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#12

Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/17/2014 12:43 PM

Here I am replying to my own OP: Stuart Nathan wrote this cautionary article about the Lockheed (Lug head) CFR:

http://www.theengineer.co.uk/home/blog/keeping-our-cool-about-compact-fusion/1019367.article?cmpid=tenews_605752

I can agree with most of Mr. Nathan's comments, but he does seem rather to be in pick-apart mode right now, and this design seems a far cry from all the larger machines, which are just about to be trying heat up, not even ignition. Sure, we can all sit back and let it gel a bit. Rather than pointing what changes in the design, or variances from a diagram to a picture, remember this stuff is pretty confidential at this point, and who could blame Lockheed's Dr. Thomas McGuire if the cards are being held rather tightly? That is what he is supposed to do, and the press relase just does a fine job of stating what the intentions are.

I see another application of this CFR when and if they go into service: inter-planetary space. With large MW outputs, then plasma drive would obviously get a huge boost. I would much rather be in a space craft with this strapped onto it, than a fission reactor.

Or think about this: How about a city hovering in mid-air? With enough power, this would not be out of the realm of possibility. (Think Star Wars - I forgot the name of the planet this was on, and no, I am still from earth, not another planet.)

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#15

Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/17/2014 8:17 PM

Sounds good ... too good to be true? I got excited about cold fusion. We will see.

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#16

Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/18/2014 10:16 AM
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#17
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/18/2014 10:37 AM

Fredski: Let's you and I pre-suppose these can be made to work in five years on a stationary test bed. What do you guess will happen when these are placed into anything that actually moves (i.e. down the road, over water or under, or in the air)?

My guess will be that the first generation reactors will not like vibrations, shocks, etc. that are introduced as a by-product of motion. But then necessity will overtake the situation, and they will overcome it? or not?

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#18
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/18/2014 10:50 AM

I think its an evolving technology that's "lab only" @ the moment, they wont be available at Home depot anytime soon. fusion has been a tough nut to crack before recently. without the ability to harness super conducting fusion is just a theory.I'm hopeful this approach has realistic potential. I see it being fitted on ships initially, so the Navy. bumps and swings don't affect a good set of gyros much.

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#32
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/22/2014 11:03 AM

http://www.theengineer.co.uk/news/news-analysis/new-details-on-compact-fusion-reveal-scale-of-challenge/1019393.article

I ran across this article this morning, where Lockheed explained the reasoning behind the early announcement, discussion of that they have already done in the last four years, more of the strategy behind CFR, and what they plan to do in terms of collaboration. Sounds like all good stuff to me. With the tonnage described in this morning's article, this thing probably will not be flying any time soon? 300-10,000 tonnes is still a hell of a lot of weight to take aloft.

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#33
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/22/2014 11:19 AM

Interesting, something like a light pumping laser.

Perhaps an outer space environment would be Ideal for prototyping?

Thanks for the update!

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#34
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/22/2014 12:19 PM

Great update!

I like that Ray Johnson is well aware of the material science complexity. More importantly they recognize that while small scale controlled fusion is the holy grail this project is attempting, the knowledge gained in the attempt will likely be a sufficient reward in itself.

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#35
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/22/2014 1:54 PM

Knowledge as a reward is as I suppose at least a large part of the reason we are involved in science. The fiduciary benefits at times are hard to encompass, and at other times hard to realize.

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#19

Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/18/2014 11:07 AM

What is the source for power to the magnetic confinement for initiation?

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#20
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/18/2014 12:01 PM

Solyndra solar cells.

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#21
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/18/2014 12:45 PM

Couldn't they be cheap Chinese knock-offs?

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#22
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/19/2014 2:17 PM

"Magnetic confinement" requiring a certain amount of energy? Intial startup power source for "magnetic confinement"? Once started, derived from output? Curiosity from the ability for abstract thought, may reflect misconception or non-clarity of concept.

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#24
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/20/2014 10:53 AM

Once the magnets are super-conducting, I suppose your car battery might be enough to build up the field. The big energy sucker is more likely to be the refrigeration that gets them cold enough, and keeps them cold.

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#25
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10/20/2014 11:00 AM

James Stewart,

Thanks for the reply.

If anyone can develop this, Skunkworks can.

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#26
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/20/2014 11:32 AM

"If anyone can develop this, Skunkworks can."

My thoughts exactly. They DO have a track record!

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#27
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/20/2014 12:14 PM

The reasons for doing hard science are many, and sometimes the rewards are few, and the costs are high. Other times, there are moments of serindipity where small changes reap huge rewards. We can all hope this is one of those times.

Engineers working in a manufacturing, or power generation setting typically are applying practical, proven science, and the rewards come from actually getting the nameplate performance out of the production line, or the generator. Engineers working in research may go on for years without this sort of feedback, although there will be ups and downs in any research venture. One works on the experiment for days until it "runs", provides data, or whatever, and then runs it until it breaks down. Then one must work for a long time analyzing whatever data was harvested, analyzing the breakdown, etc. in preparation for the next trial. If it ever gets to the point where the "machine" will run indefinitely, then a sigh of relief is breathed.

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#28
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/20/2014 1:05 PM

I remember the promising development of the micro turbine and the localized generation of power from these multi fueled machines, I was curious, even going so far as to watch the market. The wheels fell of with the announcement of difficulty in manufacture of the multistage turbine bearings, which seemed strange. I lost interest, and a couple of years later it was under government influence.

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#29
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/20/2014 1:40 PM

Are you referring to the Braydon brothers microturbine (all parts are machined from a single piece on the rotor)? I thought this thing was a go, all the way.

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#30
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Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/20/2014 1:47 PM

I was referring to the Capstone which is definitely a "Go". It was just that the news about the bearing problems and the stock dropping off was strange, more like manipulation.

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#31
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10/20/2014 3:24 PM

Maybe this is an end-around play?

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#23

Re: Go Skunkworks!!!!!!

10/20/2014 3:00 AM

Don't know (this is way above my pay scale) what all the fuss is about, but you gotta admit that at least someone is TRYING to solve this problem exersize in engineering brilliance!!

JMHO

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