A couple of posts ago I wrote about a plasma shielding system that, in my opinion, would be useful for space applications. With maybe a bit of delusion, I wrote that “all pieces of the puzzle are going into their place” (that is, to build a manned e.m spaceship). Today I’ve just discovered that another piece might have to be added to the puzzle.
Laureti has always stated that the biggest problem with PNN is that the system must have an impedance (Z) as close as possibile to 1 (ideal value). Unfortunately up today the only way to reach such values is to resort to superconductivity. The downside is that one has to cool down the material to the absolute zero temperature so it represents a very expensive and unpractical way. Moreover to mount the cooling system in a thruster means more weight to carry and hence less acceleration. In space, at least far away from the Sun, the cold environment can give a great hand to cool the thruster core but in the inner solar system or during high power maneuvers – like an hypothetical take off from a planet surface – this passive cooling system is not applicable.
It is a today news however that scientists have created the first sample of metallic hydrogen, after 80 years that its existence was originally postulated. This is a totally new material, at least here on Earth. They’ve managed to create one sample (a 10 microns wide droplet) by using extremely high pressures and temperatures. Researchers still don’t know whether metallic hydrogen can “survive” outside its extreme environment or not, so for the moment they’re keeping it “alive” by maintaining the same conditions that formed it in first place. Later, after they’ll have taken all their measurements, they’re going to release the diamond anvil cell to see what will happen to the sample.
This material, scientists think, has an amazing property, as the article says:
Most importantly, physicists think that metallic hydrogen could be a room-temperature superconductor, which would mean the material could conduct electricity with zero resistance – and without having to be cooled to crazy temperatures first.
if this material turned out to be exploitable, the metallic hydrogen would be the panacea for PNN and electromagnetic propulsion in general!
Of course it won’t happen tomorrow and there are a lot of ifs: if it can exist outside its environment, if it is really superconductive at room temperature, if it can be actually used to create circuits, if it can be created in sufficient amounts and cheaply etc.
However, if people dream antimatter reactors and warp drives in Star Trek, why don’t we let our fantasy run and we imagine a maybe not so distant future where metallic hydrogen is mass produced to create e.m engines cores?
Only time will tell if it was a dream or not but for the moment we can only hope that this new material will maintain its promises.