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May 07, 2010

IO9 Costs Out Massively Inferior Version of Iron Man

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IO9 tries to cost out a real version of the Iron Man armor but the systems that they provide are massively inferior to Iron Man.

* realistic human size flight pack goes about 100 mph while Iron Man flies supersonic. Actually I believe what they show is an unpowered gliding wing.
* Instead of a fusion reactor with 1-16 million HP (1 megawatt is 1341 HP, 70 MW - 1.2 GW) they try to substitute a radiothermal generator with about 100 watts
* the exoskeleton they look at is the XOS exoskeleton which can help someone lift about 200 pounds repeatedly without tiring while iron man lifts ten to one hundred tons.
* They do not spec out or cost out the actual armor defense which can resist missiles and tank weapons
* they do not spec out or cost out the weapons (repulsor rays, lasers etc..)
Emory Professor Muses on Iron Man Technology
How realistic is the science and physics behind Iron Man? How close are humans to having technologies like the Iron Man suit and power sources like the Arc Reactor? Emory professor Sidney Perkowitz discusses all this and more as he looks into the reality of Iron Man.



Near-term Future Technology to Get Closer to Iron Man

Power source - Lawrenceville plasma physics dense plasma focus fusion reactor or IEC fusion reactor.
The focus fusion reactor would be about 3x3x9 feet and generate 2-20 MW.

The IEC fusion reactor is also too large to fit into a one man suit of armor.

A fusion reactor could be near by and in a mobile tank and powering a laser which in turn powers the exoskeleton. Lasermotive is close to getting the laser beaming to work for powering a UAV.

For self contained power, Digital Quantum batteries could have ten times the density of lithium batteries and approach or exceed gasoline power density.

Here is a consideration on the limits of energy storage technology.

* 1 kilogram of crude oil contains nearly 50 mega-joules of chemical potential energy, which is enough to lift 1 metric ton to a height of around 5,000 meters
* a theoretical flywheel device composed solely of toroidal carbon nanotubes could reach 100 mega-joules per kilogram. Metallic Hydrogen if it were stable and could be produced would theoretically have five times the efficiency of liquid H2/O2, the current Space Shuttle fuel.

Personal Flight
Jetpacks or person sized flying is now at about 63 mph and can last about 30 minutes.

There are some who plan 160mph person sized flying systems, but there have been many empty claims and promises.
Person scale flying is also in development with the Puffin It could go in bursts up to 480 kph (or 320 mph) and could have a 200 mile range in 2017.



Turning the Puffin into a larger walking robot suit would probably be as close as we can get to Iron Man capabilities in the near term. Near term being before molecular nanotechnology.



No exoskeletons are in the works to provide anything near the fictional strength of iron man.

Going to larger than human size (which we are already at by building out a Puffin) you can add a forklift capability. Forklifts can lift up to 50 tons for larger systems, but most smaller ones have 1-5 ton lifting capacity. The main design issue is not to add so much weight that the suit flying capability is overly compromised.

For the armor - look to carbon nanotubes, graphene and magnetic protection.

Solid state laser weapons could get into the megawatt range by 2020.


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