October 01, 2009

Winterbergs Advanced Deuterium Fusion Rocket Propulsion For Manned Deep Space Missions

Winterberg's design to obtain a high thrust with a high specific impulse, uses propulsion by deuterium micro-bombs, and it is shown that the ignition of deuterium micro-bombs is possible by intense GeV proton beams, generated in space by using the entire spacecraft as a magnetically insulated billion volt capacitor. The design could have exhaust that is 6.3% of the speed of light. A multi-stage fusion rocket could achieve 20% of the speed of light with exhaust at that speed.

Winterberg also describes deuterium micro-bombs that can launch off of the earth using a total of 100 kilotons of small fallout free nuclear micro bombs for launching 1000 ton space craft that are mostly cargo. Winterberg developed the basic principle of the global positioning system and his work was the basis for the Project daedalus design.
Project Daedalus was a study conducted between 1973 and 1978 by the British Interplanetary Society to design a plausible interstellar unmanned spacecraft. A major stimulus for the project was Friedwardt Winterberg's fusion drive concept for which he received the Hermann Oberth gold medal award.

* Project Daedalus Study Group: A. Bond et al., Project Daedalus – The Final Report on the BIS Starship Study, JBIS Interstellar Studies, Supplement 1978
* F. Winterberg, "Rocket propulsion by thermonuclear microbombs ignited with intense relativistic electron beams", Raumfahrtforschung 15, 208-217 (1971).
* Winterberg is Hermann Oberth Gold Medalist,Physics Today, December 1979

Friedwardt Winterberg at wikipedia

Winterberg is well-respected for his work in the fields of nuclear fusion and plasma physics, and Edward Teller has been quoted as saying that he had "perhaps not received the attention he deserves" for his work on fusion.

His current research is on the "Planck Aether Hypothesis", "a novel theory that explains both quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity as asymptotic low energy approximations, and gives a spectrum of particles greatly resembling the standard model. Einstein's gravitational and Maxwell's electromagnetic equations are unified by the symmetric and antisymmetric wave mode of a vortex sponge, Dirac spinors result from gravitationally interacting bound positive-negative mass vortices, which explains why the mass of an electron is so much smaller than the Planck mass. The phenomenon of charge is for the first time explained to result from the zero point oscillations of Planck mass particles bound in vortex filaments."

In 2008, Winterberg criticized string theory and pointed out the shortcomings of Einstein's general theory of relativity because of its inability to be reconciled with quantum mechanics at the Physical Interpretations of Relativity Theory conference and published his findings in Physics Essays

Back in 1963, it was proposed by Winterberg that the ignition of thermonuclear micro-explosions, could be achieved by an intense beam of microparticles accelerated to a velocity of 1000 km/s. And in 1968, Winterberg proposed to use intense electron and ion beams, generated by Marx generators, for the same purpose. Most recently, Winterberg has proposed the ignition of a deuterium microexplosion, with a gigavolt super-Marx generator, which is a Marx Generator driven by up to 100 ordinary Marx generators

An earlier Winterberg paper on micro fusion space propulsion was covered here.

Deuterium from an Asteroid or Comet

Deuterium can be extracted from water with relative ease in three steps:
1. Water is electrolytically split into hydrogen and oxygen.
2. The hydrogen gas composed of H2 and HD is cooled down until it liquifies, whereby the heavier HD is separated by the force of gravity from the lighter H2.
3. The newly produced HD is heated up and passed through a catalyst, splitting HD into H2 and D2, according to the equation:
2HD H2 + D2
Since the gravitational field on the surface of a comet or small planet, from where the D2 shall be extracted, is small, the apparatus separating the liquid HD from H2 must be set into rapid rotation.

The comparatively small amount of energy needed for the separation can ideally be drawn from a ferroelectric capacitor (for example a barium-titanate capacitor with a dielectric constant ε ≈ 5000), to be charged up to many kilovolts by a small fraction of the electric energy drawn from the deuterium fusion explosions through a magneto hydrodynamic loop. One can also draw this energy from a small on-board nuclear reactor requiring only a small radiator, slowly charging the capacitor. Alternatively, one may store the needed energy in the magnetic field of a superconductor.

Launching into Orbit

Winterberg looks at two (non-chemical) possibilities:
1. A laser driven by a high explosive, powerful enough to ignite a DT micro-explosion, which in turn can launch a thermonuclear detonation in deuterium.
2. The second possibility is more speculative: It is the conjectured existence of chemical keV superexplosives. These are chemical compounds formed under high pressure, resulting in keV bridges between inner electron shells, able to release intense bursts of keV X-rays, capable of igniting a DT thermonuclear reaction, which in turn could by propagating burn ignite a larger deuterium detonation.

For the realization of the first possibility, one may consider pumping a solid argon rod with a convergent cylindrical shock wave driven by a high explosive. If the argon rod is placed in the center of convergence to reach a temperature of 90,000 ° K, this will populate in the argon the upper ultraviolet laser level, remaining frozen in the argon during its following rapid radial expansion. The energy thusly stored in the upper laser level can then be removed by a small Q-switched laser from the rod in one run into a powerful laser pulse, to be optically focused onto a thermonuclear target.

The idea is to use a replaceable laser for the ignition of each nuclear explosion, with the laser material thereafter becoming part of the propellant. The Los Alamos scientists had proposed to use an infrared carbon dioxide (CO2) or chemical laser for this purpose, but this idea does not work, because the wavelength is too long, and therefore unsuitable for inertial confinement fusion. I had suggested an ultraviolet argon ion laser instead. However, since argon ion lasers driven by an electric discharge have a small efficiency, I had suggested a quite different way for its pumping, illustrated

There the efficiency can be expected to be quite high. It was proposed to use a cylinder of solid argon, surrounding it by a thick cylindrical shell of high explosive. If simultaneously detonated from outside, a convergent cylindrical shockwave is launched into the argon. For the high explosive one may choose hexogen with a detonation velocity of 8 km/s. In a convergent cylindrical shockwave the temperature rises as r -0.4, where r is the distance from axis of the cylindrical argon rod. If the shock is launched from a distance of ~1 m onto an argon rod with a radius equal to 10 cm, the temperature reaches 90,000 K, just right to excite the upper laser level of argon. Following its heating to 90,000 K the argon cylinder radially expands and cools, with the upper laser level frozen into the argon. This is similar as in a gas dynamic laser, where the upper laser level is frozen in the gas during its isentropic expansion in a Laval nozzle. To reduce depopulation of the upper laser level during the expansion by super-radiance, one may dope to the argon with a saturable absorber, acting as an “antiknock” additive. In this way megajoule laser pulses can be released within 10 nanoseconds. A laser pulse from a small Q-switched argon ion laser placed in the spacecraft can then launch a photon avalanche in the argon rod, igniting a DT micro-explosion.

For the realization of the second possibility, one would have to subject suitable materials to very high pressure. These energetic states can only be reached if during their compression the materials are not appreciably heated, because such heating would prevent the electrons from forming the bridges between the inner electron shells.

Employing the Teller-Ulam configuration, by replacing the fission explosive with a DT micro-explosion, one can then ignite a much larger DD explosion.
As an alternative one may generate a high current linear pinch discharge with a high explosive driven magnetic flux compression generator. If the current I is of the order I = 10^7A, the laser can ignite a DT thermonuclear detonation wave propagating down the high current discharge channel, which in turn can ignite a much larger pure DD explosion.

If launched from the surface of the earth, one has to take into account the mass of the air entrained in the fireball. The situation resembles a hot gas driven gun, albeit one of rather poor efficiency.

For , and setting for v = 10 km/s = 10^6 cm/s the escape velocity from the Earth, one finds that N ≥ 10. Assuming an efficiency of 10%, about 100 kiloton explosions would there be needed to launch 1000 ton ship into orbit.

Neutron entrapment in an autocatalytic thermonuclear detonation wave is a means to increase the specific impulse and to solve the large radiator problem. The maximum exhaust velocity becomes 6.3% of light speed.

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