Conceptual high tech power plant thermonuclear or nuclear reactor, including elements of fusion space stations, electricity production, microwave components
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
May 6, 2024 ·  4 min read

How a Viable Nuclear Fusion Reactor Really Could Change the World

Global security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin recently made a pretty big claim: That they have made a breakthrough with nuclear fusion energy production. The company says they have successfully created a compact nuclear fusion reactor that could essentially solve the world’s sustainable energy problem. The question is, is this actually viable? Some scientists have their doubts.

Has Lockheed Martin Created A Compact Nuclear Fusion Reactor That Actually Works?

Lockheed Martin is a company focused on advanced technology systems, products, and services. They are engaged in the entire process: Research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment. Recently they announced that they have created a compact nuclear fusion reactor that could solve the sustainable energy crisis. If this is true, this innovation could mean the end of fossil fuel energy production entirely – as well as stem the need for any other form of energy production. But what is nuclear fusion, exactly? (1)

Nuclear Fusion vs. Nuclear Fission

Until now, when people are talking about nuclear energy, they are referring to nuclear fission. Fission is the process used in our nuclear power plants and involves atoms splitting apart. While fission is much more sustainable than fossil fuels, there are some drawbacks. The biggest drawback is the nuclear waste that this kind of reaction produces. We have used fission over fusion, however, because controlling the fusion process has proven to be very, very difficult.

So what is a nuclear fusion reaction, then? This is when two (or more) atoms collide at high speeds and fuse to form a new atom. The power of these reactions is incredible, as they can produce three to four times more energy than a fission reaction can. Not only that, but they don’t produce the nuclear waste that fission does. It’s a fossil-free, hazardous-waste-free energy source. The idea is to mimic the same way the sun makes heat here on Earth.

Read: China Just Turned On Its Artificial Sun

Why Are Scientists Skeptical?

The reason why, however, fission has been used over fusion is to control the fusion reaction itself and cost efficiency. Fusion reactions create an impressive amount of heat and pressure that has proven to be very difficult to contain, even on a small scale. Cost efficiency has also been an issue because the amount of energy required to produce the reaction is often more than the amount of energy it produces.

Naturally, there are some who have a hard time believing that Lockheed Martin has overcome these obstacles. Even more so, they have managed to do so with a reactor small enough to fit into the back of a truck. On top of that, they plan on testing their design within a year and have a prototype built within the next five years. However, the lead fusion researcher on the project, Tom McGuire, is confident that this is all possible.

“Our compact fusion concept combines several alternative magnetic confinement approaches, taking the best parts of each, and offers a 90 percent size reduction over previous concepts,” he explained. “The smaller size will allow us to design, build and test the CFR in less than a year.” (2)

What Kind Of Impact Will This Have, If Successful?

One of the biggest challenges facing the world today is how we reach our current and future energy needs sustainably. Fossil fuels are depleting the planet rapidly – it’s a race to see if they will run out before we destroy the planet or the other way around. Nuclear fusion solves that problem. One kilogram of fusion fuel produces the equivalent amount of energy as 10 kilograms of fossil fuel. 

“To mimic the energy created by the sun and control it here on earth, we’re creating a concept that can be contained using a magnetic bottle. The bottle is able to handle extremely hot temperatures, reaching hundreds of millions of degrees. By containing this reaction, we can release it in a controlled fashion to create energy we can use,” Lockheed Martin has written. “The heat energy created using this compact fusion reactor will drive turbine generators by replacing the combustion chambers with simple heat exchangers. In turn, the turbines will then generate electricity or the propulsive power for a number of applications.”

It’s clean and safe, producing no toxic waste and with no danger of a meltdown. It provides an essentially limitless energy source that could make all other energy generation obsolete. It also has the potential to change space travel. With nuclear fusion energy, it could take just one month to travel to mars instead of the six months it currently takes. We will have to wait and see if Lockheed Martin can actually make this happen.

Keep Reading: Paper-thin solar cell can turn any surface into a power source


  1. Compact Fusion.” Lock Heed Martin
  2. How a Viable Nuclear Fusion Reactor Really Could Change the World.” Tree Hugger. Bryan Nelson. June 5, 2017.