Self-Sustaining Laser-Powered Nuclear Fusion Jet Engine

Jet engine

Futuristic forms of propulsion are oft the fodder of science fiction, and generally carry as much “oompf” aesthetically as they do in terms of acceleration. Iron Man’s hands and feet flare with every dive and turn, the entirety of space spins around the Millennium Falcon as it leaps to hyperspace, the starship Enterprise bends from front to back as it blurs into motion with warp drive, and more. Sometimes the fuel itself adds to the sense of awe; the “Mr. Fusion” on Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean, or the city-sized reactor inside the Death Star that destroyed the entire craft when ruptured. The colorful flourishes associated with all of these create a clear distinction between narrative fun and the mundane reliability of everyday science. However, a patent recently filed by Boeing provides a decidedly hefty degree of style.

Submitted by a trio of a California-based inventors on behalf of the famous aviation company, the patent is for, in short, a self-sustaining laser-powered nuclear fusion jet engine. Any of the three descriptors contained therein would suffice for an eye-grabbing headline, and this propulsion system lays claim to all three. The idea for the project came from exploring electrical propulsion possibilities as an alternative to traditional chemical-fueled travel. The “background” portion of the patent says that because of “efficiency and power system weight [issues], electric propulsion has limited applications, even with its potential of extremely high specific impulse as compared to chemical systems.” In principle, the patent’s proposed engine would contain “at least one laser” and radioactive material as a propellant. The laser would be used to vaporize the propellant, thereby causing a controlled explosion and delivering thrust. To increase efficiency, the patent says that elements of the vaporized propellant may be (edited to exclude illustration references): “absorbed by coolant flowing within a pipe to power a turbine which powers a power generator which powers the laser system.” With the laser being potentially self-sustained and the explosive by-product of the engine consisting of only hydrogen, the primary concern would be providing and maintaining adequate radioactive materials.

What do you think about this design for a self-sustaining laser-powered nuclear fusion jet engine?

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About DevonJ140
I am currently an Accounting Director living in New York City. I love reading and learning more about business, finance, tech, and current events.

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