17 Oct 2014

Fusion energy breakthrough could power next generation defence fleets

Energy savingsSummary: Lockheed Martin is working on a new compact fusion reactor (CFR) that can be developed and deployed in as little as ten years.

As well as providing clean energy, compact fusion reactors have the potential to revolutionise sea, air and space travel.

The Lockheed Martin reactor could transform defence fleets, theoretically powering warships within ten years and in 20 years could be providing a source of virtually limitless clean energy around the world.

The project is being developed by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works team and builds on more than 60 years of fusion research and investment to develop an approach which offers a significant reduction in size compared to mainstream efforts.

Tom McGuire of Skunk Works’ Revolutionary Technology Programs said: “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. The smaller size will allow us to design, build and test the CFR in less than a year.”

Fusion energy is not new but has so far failed to live up to its massive potential. Last week, the European Commission announced a £677m initiative to develop nuclear fusion as an energy source by 2020.

The Lockheed Martin team will also be searching for partners to help develop the technology and further the research needed to make the new fusion reactor a reality.