WASHINGTON, October 17 (RIA Novosti) — Lockheed Martin needs to provide more scientific evidence on its ten-year plan to develop a nuclear fusion reactor before the project can be evaluated, but at the same time has the capacity that can make the project a reality, leading nuclear energy experts told RIA Novosti.
"I am surprised by the fuss. Lockheed hasn't shown any results. What is the temperature? What kind of performance? Five years to a prototype reactor would only be possible if they already had demonstrated fusion burn in their machine. If they have I would expect them to say so. That would be worthy of a fuss. At this point I can make no conclusions," Steve Cowley, CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority said on Thursday.
Lockheed announced in a press release on Wednesday that it plans on developing a prototype of the compact fusion reactor (CFR) within five years and deploying it within ten.
Lockheed Martin has the capacity that can make the compact fusion reactor a reality, but it doesn't mean that it will, argues Lexington Institute's Chief Operating Officer Loren Thompson in an interview to RIA Novosti.
"Because Lockheed Martin makes weapons the public may want to diminish this. You have to remember this is the same company that made the F-35 [fighter jet]. They know physics," said Thompson, regarding the CFR.
Thompson came to Lockheed Martin's rescue on Thursday after the company received criticism for claiming they have the inner workings to develop a compact fusion nuclear reactor that would fit on the back of a truck within a decade.
Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) Stewart Prager pointed out that it wouldn't be possible to evaluate Lockheed's claim that it can achieve its mission within ten years.
"On whether the Lockheed objective is feasible, it is impossible to have much of an opinion. The information in the press release and various press articles provides essentially no scientific information. In the absence of any information, no one can say much about it," said Prager.
According to Prager, Lockheed's station "is an extraordinary claim, which would need to be backed up by strong evidence."
"I very much look forward to reading a report or in any way receiving information on their concept. Fusion energy is of immense importance to the world's energy future. Progress around the world has been remarkable, developing the concept for a large fusion system. If Lockheed has a feasible, compact design that would be terrific, and I welcome learning about it," Prager added.
Thompson, on the other hand, reminded that Lockheed Martin has been expanding into the energy market and holds numerous patents across a wide range of fields and not just military aircraft.
Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland which designs and develops advanced technology systems, according to its website, primarily for the Department of Defense and other US federal government agencies.