Beamed Core Antimatter Propulsion: Engine Design and Optimization
R. L. Keane; W.-M. Zhang (2012), JBIS, 65, 382-387
Keywords: Propulsion, Antimatter, Beamed core, Magnetic nozzle, Geant
A conceptual design for beamed core antimatter propulsion is reported, where electrically charged annihilation products directly generate thrust after being deflected and collimated by a magnetic nozzle. Simulations were carried out using the Geant4 (Geometry and tracking) software toolkit released by the CERN accelerator laboratory for Monte Carlo simulation of the interaction of particles with matter and fields. Geant permits a more sophisticated and comprehensive design and optimization of antimatter engines than the software environment for simulations reported by prior researchers. The main finding is that effective exhaust speeds v e ~ 0.69 c (where c is the speed of light) are feasible for charged pions in beamed core propulsion, a major improvement over the v e ~ 0.33 c estimate based on prior simulations. The improvement resulted from optimization of the geometry and the field configuration of the magnetic nozzle. Moreover, this improved performance is realized using a magnetic field on the order of 10 T at the location of its highest magnitude. Such a field could be produced with today’s technology, whereas prior nozzle designs anticipated and required major advances in this area. The paper also briefly reviews prospects for production of the fuel needed for a beamed core engine.