October 16, 2006

More on trapping antimatter

A pdf from the Nasa Institute fo Advanced Concepts discusses creating artificial magnetospheres and large superconducting coils to trap antimatter. Artificial magnetospheres was also the main component of the M2P2 propulsion system which would sail on the solar wind

From page 42 in the Bickford pdf, 10.5 Gwe orbital particle accelerators within the antimatter trap could be used to capture 1 gram of antimatter per year.

From page 11,

Beamed core antiproton propulsion (direct one-to-one annihilation and expulsion of antiproton and proton atoms, 1-1000 grams of antimatter would be required) approaches the theoretical ISP limit of about 30 x 10**6 seconds. Chemical propulsion is at about ISP ~400 seconds. Antimatter rockets have extremely good mass fractions due to the ISP influence on the rocket equation. Antimatter Catalyzed Microfission/Fusion (ACMF) requires only nanogram quantities of antiprotons to achieve spacecraft Δ Vs in the range of 100km/s. Less than 10 micrograms of antiprotons are required to send a 100 metric ton payload on a one year round trip mission to Jupiter. A traditional low energy Mars trajectory entails an average one way flight time of approximately 180 days while a 30 nanogram antiproton driven ACMF variant would have a flight time of about 45 days and also reduce the overall mass needed to be launched into LEO for each mission.
One of the most promising applications is to use antiprotons to image the interior of solids. Material properties and their distribution in the solid can be determined by examining the annihilation products. This has profound implications in both
medical diagnostics and homeland security. Also in the medical area, picogram quantities of antiprotons can be used to locally treat inoperable tumors.

Fuel Energy Density (J/kg)
Battery 7.2 x 10**5 Lithium Ion
Chemical 1.4 x 10**7 LO 2 /LH 2
Fission 8.2 x 10**13 U 235
Fusion 3.4 x 10**14 DT
Antimatter 9.0 x 10**16 E=mc 2

Note: Fission is 5 million times more concentrated than chemical systems. It is why I think we should use our current technology capability to tap fission and fusion power with Project Orion variants. As I have noted, we have the technology now to make it far safer with minimal fallout. We could move all of the industries that are bad for the environment to orbit, the moon, and Mars. Fixing all of our current problems is not just technology but making the right choices. For example a bad choice was not making more nuclear reactors since the 1970s. Discounting Chernobyl as a Russian screwup with more lax safety standards, three mile island did not cause deaths. How many people die every year from coal mining and coal pollution? (answers: hundreds per year from the first and tens of thousands from the second) How much more of a problem has been caused by the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which could have been reduced with more nuclear power since 1970? Bad choices have caused more deaths, more pollution and a worse environment.

2200 kg of antimatter would equal the power used in the world today. It is one of the things we should be doing in the future. Fission and fusion we should be doing today. Not using technology that is a million times more powerful is a mistake. It is like using a car battery and adding a thousand tons of ballast (to make it a million times worse than chemical power to show the difference between handicapped batteries versus chemical versus fission/fusion.) such a system is not going anywhere.

Further reading:
A fairly complete list of links for launch propulsion systems from hobbyspace

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