Author Topic: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)  (Read 12285 times)

Online sanman

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Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« on: 01/03/2014 04:24 AM »
Friedwardt Winterberg has come up with the idea for a fallout-free fission-free fusion-based Orion:

http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/01/winterberg-reinvents-project-orion.html

The crux of the idea seems to be about using conventional high explosives to replace any fission-trigger for the fusion bombs. Fusion-only means no fallout, apparently.

What is the feasibility of this idea? What are the challenges?


Offline aero

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #1 on: 01/03/2014 05:44 AM »
Quote
What is the feasibility of this idea? What are the challenges?

If the engine works it would be very feasible, it would open the solar system. The challenge. Making the engine work.
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Offline cleonard

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #2 on: 01/03/2014 06:04 AM »
Not many details there.  What is this "keV super-explosive" and what is it's nature?  Traditional explosives are only a few eV typical of chemical reactions.  Traditional chemical explosives just don't have the power to compress the fuel enough for fusion to occur. 

Fallout free they claim?  With D-T fusion 80% of the resulting energy is in 14 Mev neutrons.  A lot of these will escape the immediate area of the reaction and adding neutrons to atoms tends to generate radioactive products and gamma rays.  This could be the rocket, the ground, or even the passengers.  Shielding neutrons is somewhat difficult and the neutron fluxes will be very large.

Offline ArbitraryConstant

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #3 on: 01/03/2014 07:24 AM »
Not many details there.  What is this "keV super-explosive" and what is it's nature?  Traditional explosives are only a few eV typical of chemical reactions.  Traditional chemical explosives just don't have the power to compress the fuel enough for fusion to occur.
Seems like they propose to create temporary metastable materials that explode with the required energy, using conventional explosives?

The fallout would be non-zero from neutron activation but there wouldn't be any fission products and higher actinides. If the neutrons mostly go into light elements of conventional explosives and the atmosphere most of it would be short lived. Even with exceptions like C14 it's still a lot less.

A ~25 ton yield would be scary from a weapons perspective as this is in the range of largest fuel air bombs and people may be tempted to use it. You can make a fission bomb that small but it would be extremely inefficient and dirty so it still bears the stigma, a small fusion bomb may not.

That said I'm pretty skeptical of the claim as well.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2014 07:27 AM by ArbitraryConstant »

Offline Stormbringer

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #4 on: 01/03/2014 11:40 AM »
oh! metatastable explosives!  i know a website that discusses some of those. it's basically the only place i have seen any information on it. its Project Rho. it's a hard science fiction oriented site that eschews magical technology in favor of concepts that are more realistic. but it might be a good place to get an over view of metastable chemicals as propulsion fuels.

http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/enginelist.php#table

the metastable helium is partway down that table.

and leads to this archived explanation:

http://web.archive.org/web/20040804131304/http://www.islandone.org/APC/Chemical/07.html

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Offline Stormbringer

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #5 on: 01/03/2014 11:45 AM »
also since i am the science fictiony guy lately; can you imagine if you had atoms made of monopoles like orion's arm posits or made of things like muons or kaons or some other exotic particle like that which could also form chemical bonds 100's of thousands of times more powerful than regular atomic chemistry? all of a sudden exothermal chemistry would be more powerful than atomic bombs maybe even anti-matter.
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Offline Stormbringer

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #6 on: 01/03/2014 12:11 PM »
Remember the dust up about the hafnium battery or bomb? i think that was based on the metastable idea too but in the nucleus and not the orbitals. so it's sort of but not quite the same principle the OP brought up. the thing didn't pan out but some adjustment of the basic premise could conceivably succeed where hafnium itself didn't work.
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #7 on: 01/03/2014 09:49 PM »
Friedwardt Winterberg has come up with the idea for a fallout-free fission-free fusion-based Orion:

http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/01/winterberg-reinvents-project-orion.html
Interesting idea.

Now about that 100 million atmospheres of pressure you need to make these materials.......... :(
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Offline rst

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #8 on: 01/03/2014 11:24 PM »
You might also want to look at the "Fusion-Driven Rocket" proposal, by John Slough and collaborators, which proposes to collapse lithium jackets around a ball of plasma, and heat it to fusion temperatures that way.  It's currently the subject of a separate thread or two in this forum, also under "Advanced Topics".

Offline grondilu

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #9 on: 01/04/2014 01:26 AM »
What is the feasibility of this idea? What are the challenges?

I doubt anyone on this forum is competent on this subject.  And if someone is, he should probably shut up about it, or at least not give any detail, considering the highly sensible topic it is from an international security point of view.

Orion is all about building lots of small nuclear bombs.  That's not something you can discuss in any detail on an internet forum.
« Last Edit: 01/04/2014 01:29 AM by grondilu »
Space is pretty much literally an astronomically-high hanging fruit.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #10 on: 01/04/2014 11:44 AM »
BTW The idea of a fission free H bomb (which is essentially what this is) has been around since at least the early 1960's.

It's used as a plot device in the novel "The Ipcress File" (yes the novel is very different from the film).

Wheather it's any more feasible  is another matter.

The 1980's idea, described in "Weapons of Tomorrow" suggested a magnetic structure called a "fast liner" which would be explosively compressed to generate the huge EMP that would compress a fuel capsule to go critical.

AFAIK this is the technology proposed as an EMP weapon to fuse power systems and blackout radio comms.

How well it's worked in practice is another matter.  :(
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Offline Stormbringer

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #11 on: 01/04/2014 12:47 PM »
actually i have read science articles in the popular online science blogs where these pressures are achieved through various means. diamond anvils and other newer more advanced ways. if i recall correctly just recently several important scientific advances were made via subjecting materials to these sorts of extreme pressures. sorry i cannot be more precise but i don't want to get the specifics wrong and can't look it up right now.

Friedwardt Winterberg has come up with the idea for a fallout-free fission-free fusion-based Orion:

http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/01/winterberg-reinvents-project-orion.html
Interesting idea.

Now about that 100 million atmospheres of pressure you need to make these materials.......... :(
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Offline go4mars

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #12 on: 01/04/2014 02:26 PM »
Let's take polymeric nitrogen as an example.  It's created within a bajillion bars of pressure, inside a diamond anvil, and every bit of energy that comes out when it changes form back, went in - with losses, making it in the first place through compression. 

So is this a huge amount of conventional explosives squeezes something like nitrogen, which somehow geometrically releases its energy toward the target?  Color me skeptical.  The General Fusion guys in Vancouver are using a similar idea (convergent wave fronts), but they don't need to worry about mass.  Jeff Bezos and Cenovus are among their shareholders.  They have a more viable (unfunded) in-space fusion propulsion idea (IMO), but I can't talk about it.

I think a much more plausible scenario is a BFR launches a 3D printer to HEO, with thousands of launches bringing inconel dust to create most of the parts for a pusher plate, ship, and shock absorbers.  Hundreds more launches bring up the conventional targets (shaped charges - Dyson style), then it's fun time. 

If anyone's accepting orders, I'll take a quickly and inexpensively reusable methane/oxygen BFR please!
« Last Edit: 01/04/2014 02:38 PM by go4mars »
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Offline Stormbringer

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #13 on: 01/04/2014 11:43 PM »
here is a documentary on the original Project Orion. it has interviews with Dyson and with his son, the original Orion Conventional explosive powered test articles, films of the thing flying and all sorts of good stuff :)

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Offline savuporo

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #14 on: 01/05/2014 03:58 AM »
Not many details there.  What is this "keV super-explosive" and what is it's nature?

Its called handwavium

Quote
What is the feasibility of this idea? What are the challenges?
The testing range is on another side of Jupiter.
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Offline Stormbringer

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #15 on: 01/05/2014 10:02 AM »

Its called handwavium



I don't think that is a fair characterization. there are ideas for super-explosives that are more plausible than others. some are handwavium for sure; but i don't think all of them are. We can't call everything that hasn't been done yet handwavium. By that criterion even breakeven fusion is handwavium even though folks have been working on it since the beginning of the atomic age.

Are metastable explosives handwavium? We know that materials can have metastable states which contain impressive amounts of energy. We know that they can release that energy at the requisite speed. I suspect the problem is making it in useable quantities. That should just be an engineering problem...

How about metallic hydrogen? Is that handwavium because it has not been made yet?

Or are quantum nucleonic batteries handwavium because we haven't found one with a useful relaxation time?

Now the idea of exotic atoms capable of chemical bonding made of non baryonic matter is probably handwavium because of the number of a priori assumptions needed to be plausible for it to be possible but even it is possible. There have been atoms made of particles that are not supposed to be capable of forming atoms; not just one but at least two or three so far.

Isn't handwavium a plot device where the underlying mechanisms and principles are left blank or at best vaguely addressed for the purposes of making a storyline seem plausible?

The enemy aliens have a lignification weapon beam that turns peoples flesh into wood? the ships have a MAG (Mysterious Anti-Gravity Device) whose physics is never explained and so on.


« Last Edit: 01/05/2014 10:18 AM by Stormbringer »
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Offline Stormbringer

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #16 on: 01/05/2014 10:22 AM »
One man's handwavium may be another's future engineering achievement. ;)

or Handwavium is (sometimes) in the eye of the beholder.
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Offline R7

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #17 on: 01/05/2014 09:38 PM »
Does the handwavium have a half-life? Not a good day if one of the fusion bombs in propellant tank goes off spontaneously...

Seems similar to the metallic hydrogen thread, neat theory but how many million diamond anvils are required to make even a gram of the stuff in a meaningful time.
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Offline Stormbringer

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #18 on: 01/05/2014 10:42 PM »
actually yes it does. metastable materials go boom all too fast and all too easy. it is incredibly dangerous stuff.  it the case of metastable orbital shells it is a problem of it going boom all at once. In the case of nucleonic metastable stuff it is probably more in the lines of getting it to stay excited long enough to obtain a quantity useful for performing work among other problems. Additionally nucleonic stuff requires high energy x rays and gamma rays to excite and to relax.

Does the handwavium have a half-life? Not a good day if one of the fusion bombs in propellant tank goes off spontaneously...

Seems similar to the metallic hydrogen thread, neat theory but how many million diamond anvils are required to make even a gram of the stuff in a meaningful time.
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Offline Stormbringer

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Re: Fission-Free Orion (Fusion-Only)
« Reply #19 on: 01/05/2014 10:46 PM »


Seems similar to the metallic hydrogen thread, neat theory but how many million diamond anvils are required to make even a gram of the stuff in a meaningful time.

what if you could mine it? there are places where those types of pressures should exist. it is said that jupiter's interior rains diamonds.

EDIT:  just browsing i found NASA stuff about using techniques to alter the parameter of pressure needed to create it. something about injecting electrons into solid regular hydrogen. I also ran across mentions of jupiter in relation to metallic hydrogen.

also I could be misremembering but i seem to recall diamond anvils being older than a couple of new techniques to do the same thing. i could be wrong.

EDIT2:  Yep. i found that the first undisputed creation of metallic hydrogen did not involve the diamond anvil technique.

https://www.llnl.gov/str/Nellis.html

The target was a few grams and not a tiny speck like a diamond anvil.
« Last Edit: 01/05/2014 11:40 PM by Stormbringer »
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