What is the news?
Lockheed Martin Corp. said few days ago that it has been successful in developing a nuclear fusion power source. This is being hailed as a breakthrough in nuclear fusion as it may solve our energy concerns.
Who is Lockheed Martin Copr.?
Lockheed Martin Corp. is a major player in US defense contracting. They have said that they will be able to make the reactors based on nuclear fusion which will small enough to fit on the back of a medium sized truck. But this may take around 10 years from the present to become a possibility.
Are there some problems in nuclear fusion and fission?
Current nuclear reactors are based on nuclear fission which use the atom-splitting phenomenon to generate energy. In fusion, hydrogen atoms will combine to make a stable product and release energy which will be much more as compared to that released in fission. This news has been received with mixed emotions because in the past many announcements have been made regarding harnessing nuclear fusion energy. In nuclear fusion, there is risk of meltdown of the system due to ultra-high temperatures which are difficult to maintain and control. But, the people at Lockheed Martin seem pretty confident about the future.
What Lockheed Martin is promising?
“Our compact fusion concept combines several alternative magnetic confinement approaches, taking the best parts of each, and offers a 90 percent size reduction over previous concepts,” says Tom McGuire, leader of compact fusion development at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. He said that now this breakthrough in nuclear fusion project is going project and Lockheed expects that they will find potential partners in government and industry.
Rockheed told Reuters that small size and shape of reactor will cut down the development time and cost. The 100MW reactor will use deuterium-tritium as fuel. This will be made from deuterium isotope of hydrogen which is available in ocean and tritium isotope which is made from lithium ores found in nature.
Gilliland added, “our approach is to be much more practical and commercial and ultimately less expensive than some other approaches to fusion those approaches were much more extreme in how dense the hydrogen fuel needs to be — whether it’s very low density or very high density.”
He said that in spite of this breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion, it will take time to develop a technology which can replace the conventional coal-powered thermal power plants in future.