In a potentially revolutionary technological breakthrough, defense security contractor Lockheed Martin announced Wednesday it plans to deploy a nuclear fusion energy reactor within 10 years.
Simply put, nuclear fusion is energy that forms when a heated gas separates into ions and electrons. The ions then collide as a result of the heat and when they do, they release energy that is "a million times more powerful" than a chemical reaction. But to be an effective source of energy, that powerful reaction must be controlled.
The company's concept relies on using a high fraction of the energy density to make nuclear fusion devices much smaller — up to 90 percent smaller than previous models.
“The smaller size will allow us to design, build and test the C[ompact] F[usion] R[eactor] in less than a year,” said Tom McGuire, compact fusion lead for Lockheed's "Skunk Works" team.
While it will only take one year to build, design and test the reactor, it will take up to five years to develop a prototype and 10 years to deploy that prototype. Lockheed said the deployed model will be small enough to fit on the back of a truck, making it easier to transport.
Lockheed Martin is now taking the project public to find industry and government partners to help further its discovery. However, several patents related to the CFR are still pending, io9 reported.
A groundbreaking discovery to be sure, Lockheed Martin isn't the first to begin the process of harnessing fusion power: The European Commission last month announced a $1 billion initiative to make fusion power a source of energy by 2020.
Find out what else Lockheed Martin is doing to make nuclear fusion power a reality:
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