WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin Corp said Wednesday that it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade. Tom McGuire, who heads the project, said a small team had been working on fusion energy at Lockheed's secretive Skunk Works for about four years, but were going public to find potential partners in industry and government.
Initial work demonstrated the feasibility of a 100-megawatt reactor seven feet by 10 feet, which is about 10 times smaller than current reactors, McGuire said. The company said it would build and test a compact fusion reactor in less than a year and build a prototype in five years. Success would mark a breakthrough in a promising field that has not yet yielded viable power systems. Compact nuclear fusion would produce far less waste than coal-powered plants since it would use deuterium-tritium fuel, which can generate nearly 10 million times more energy than the same amount of fossil fuels, the company said. Lockheed said future reactors could use a different fuel and eliminate radioactive waste completely.
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