CBS Local — Lockheed Martin has reportedly been working on a revolutionary new type of reactor that can power anything from cities to aircraft carriers.
The Maryland-based defense contractor recently received a patent for the compact fusion reactor (CFR) after filing plans for the device in 2014. According to reports, one generator would be as small as a shipping container but produce the energy to power 80,000 homes or one of the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers.
Lockheed’s advanced projects division, Skunk Works, has reportedly been working on the futuristic power source since 2014 and claimed at the time that a CFR could be ready for production by 2019.
“I started looking at all the ideas that had been published. I basically took those ideas and melded them into something new by taking the problems in one and trying to replace them with the benefits of others,” Dr. Thomas McGuire of Skunk Works said during a 2014 interview.
Lockheed Martin patents its design for a potentially revolutionary compact fusion reactor (CFR). If it progresses on schedule, they could debut a prototype the size of shipping container, but capable of powering a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier or 80k homes, in next year or so pic.twitter.com/YZV0W7Pqw2
— Patent Profiler (@PatentProfiler) March 27, 2018
According to a report by The Drive, nuclear fusion is a much safer process of creating energy than fission. The fusion process heats up a gaseous fuel to the point where its atomic structure fuses with other particles to create heavier elements.
“The nice thing about a fusion reaction is that if somehow it would go out of control, it would just stop itself automatically,” William & Mary’s Saskia Mordijck told Phys.org in 2012. “If a fission reaction goes out of control, it can really go out of control. You can’t stop it and it actually might go into a nuclear meltdown.”
Lockheed advertises its quest to develop fusion power on its website, calling the technology “a cleaner, safer source of energy” that could be used to power communities or even travel to Mars.