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Is it possible to contain similarly charged particles in a magnetic field or traps, in generally large scale (say, all of them have positive charge), and could be utilized as power reserves quite easily?

Isn't it be easier to implement, than to put antimatters (say, antihydrogens) in a magnetic storage?

Could it be implemented in our current technology?‎


This is the question as originally phrased, for more background.

I've read this question, and it made me wonder. It seems to me that one of the easiest way to store antimatter, is to prevent each pair from coming into contact.

If we are to store antihidrogen, it could easily fall to the container's wall and annihilate it.

But what if we keep them in plasma form?

My solution is to keep leptons with antiquarks and antileptons with quarks. Say, we keep positrons with protons in one container, and we keep electrons with antiprotons in different containers. I think it would be easier to contain, as their similar charges (positive charges of positrons and protons, and negative charges of electrons and antiprotons) allow us to easily contain them in a magnetic container.

  1. Is this actually possible?
  2. Doesn't their tendency to repel each other (because of the same charges they have like the positive charges of positrons and antiprotons) make containment more difficult? (which I believe is not the actual problem, as in our normal life, say: a room filled with gas, their electron skins causes them to repel each other, yet it is easy to contain a gas)? What problems could arise from this design?
  3. Wouldn't it be easier to take a small portion of it by disturbing the container's magnetic field, and by using electromagnetic guidance to lead them to the reaction chamber because of their charges?
  4. Above all, assume if this question is possible, how would we implement it?

Note: assume that in this question's context, antimatter isn't as rare as it is today.

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This question asks for hard science. All answers to this question should be backed up by equations, empirical evidence, scientific papers, other citations, etc. Answers that do not satisfy this requirement might be removed. See the tag description for more information.

  • $\begingroup$ How is this any different than the existing solution except you've thrown in some other matter of the same charge into the container? You still have antimatter inside a container which you need to keep away from the normal-matter walls. $\endgroup$ – Samuel May 15 '15 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ This question is being discussed on meta: meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/2141/… $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio May 19 '15 at 3:39
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TL;DR:

  1. Yes
  2. Yes
  3. Yes
  4. Tricky answer

The Details
Charged antimatter (i.e. anti-protons) is currently stored primarily with a magnetic trap/mirror. In these systems we store small numbers of anti-hydrogen nuclei (anti-protons).

Researchers have created neutral anti-hydrogen (anti-proton with positron) and stored it for up to 16 minutes at a time.

Furthermore, the Earth and Saturn have been found to naturally produce and store anti-matter in their magnetic fields. Storage in rings like this might work as long term storage but wouldn't work for use as spacecraft fuel.

So let's look at a best case scenario and assume we've developed a method of creating anti-Tungsten (lowest vapor pressure element). Put a small charge on it so we can handle it with electromagnetic fields.

Place your anti-tungsten block in a perfect vacuum (we can't achieve this but let's assume we can) and chill the block to reduce vapor pressure.

As stray anti-atoms and atoms break loose from the solid structure, they wander around and eventually hit something (either matter or anti-matter). If a tungsten atom hits another tungsten atom, then nothing much happens. However, when anti-tungsten hits tungsten, all of that energy is released in your fuel tank. Each individual reaction doesn't do much except slightly warm the surface on which the impact happened.

However, that warming causes additional atoms to break loose from the surface and cause repeat collisions. I read an article which indicated that since we can only cool the anti-tungsten block through radiative cooling, we can't keep up with the production of energy and that block's temperature increases over time.

As the temperature increases so does the reaction rate. Eventually the temperature gets high enough to become destructive, you lose containment, and your ship goes BOOM.

I am not up to doing the necessary math at this point and my recollection of all this is at least 10 years old - so I could definitely be wrong.

Still bulk & long-term anti-matter storage is a problem we haven't solved and don't have any good strategies for solving using our current state of knowledge and technology.

How it might look/work
But the most plausible strategy would probably look something like what I described above: a low vapor pressure metal stored in complete vacuum inside a container of the same material.

You free the tungsten atoms for use in the engine by hitting it with a very precise laser designed to knock the atoms loose and ionize them at the same time. Then use electromagnetic fields and lasers to manipulate the freed particles into the reaction chamber.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sounds like a good answer. But on the updated question, I points out my core requirement: 1. Possibility as fuel storage of given methods, 2. Is it easier than our current methods? 3. Is it possible to implement in our current tech? $\endgroup$ – Hendrik Lie May 22 '15 at 8:25
  • $\begingroup$ after lots of tinkering with my ideas and considering yours, it seems that yours might works to some extent. I'll take it. $\endgroup$ – Hendrik Lie Jun 6 '15 at 6:56
  • $\begingroup$ @HendrikLie the problem with current methods, is they're only designed to store very small quantities of antimatter (measured in # of atoms!). Even so, the current methods can't store antimatter elements for longer than about 16 minutes. The method I proposed can store bulk quantities of antimatter. You do need a bit of hand-waving or future tech to make it truly functional though. $\endgroup$ – Jim2B Jun 7 '15 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, just realize how hard it is to contain antimatter, I should consider other alternatives on my story then. Perhaps only some of government-owned ship that could have antimatter fuel, as they are expensive to contain (or obtain, how the heck would you manufacture anti-tungsten anyway? :s ). Thanks for your proposal :) $\endgroup$ – Hendrik Lie Jun 7 '15 at 8:50
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The potential of the storage of antimatter is only just beyond our grasp, due to the fact that scientists at CERN have discovered an electromagnetic 'trap' to contain antimatter. If developed, antimatter could be produced to have an overall charge the same as the electromagnetic field (assuming you don't have a force field from say Star Wars or Star Trek) and so the two would repel each other. However the problem is you would need a controlled room for the annihilation process if you wanted to use the antimatter in a fuel or ship of some kind and if the reaction were to become too big ones ship would turn into a catastrophic blast zone depending on the amount of stored antimatter

However Einstein's theory (E=mc^2) states that the energy of matter antimatter annihilation would be released two ways with photons, and so some energy would hit the ship, potentially doing damage and the rest of the energy being inefficient. However if you could manipulate the antimatter to send the energy in concentrated blasts into the ship using some kind of deflector shield then it could possibly propel the ship. However the likes of space travel to further galaxy's is virtually impossible nowadays!

There is also the possibility of designing a 100% efficient hadron collider that is able to produce antimatter at a re of which it doesn't waste electricity in the production process ad creates antimatter every time to save money and electricity; due to the fact it costs a few billion to make a few grams of antimatter nowadays. You never know- in the early 1900's no one thought it would be possible to go to the moon, and they did due to technological advancements in 1969.

There is also the possibility of using antimatter to replace fossil fuels as in 2008 only 368kg of antimatter was needed to fuel the world to due to the fact that when it annihilates it releases 1.8x10^17j of energy and so it could potentially replace the worlds energy problem, if of course you build a 100% efficient collider and then no electricity would be wasted on the process and so on; also if larger amounts of antimatter could be produced in the particle collision.

The domestic use of antimatter though would be hard in this scientific era as we have only just scratched the surface of antimatter, and so matter anti-matter annihilation would be hard to control in a domestic household, unless like today the build energy plants providing us with 'clean' energy.

Really the only other uses of antimatter are for scientific study and bombs. however if today a country came out with a antimatter bomb people would seriously consider if they had been helped by aliens as the containment of antimatter in sufficient quantities is extremely sophisticated and goes into details of quantum and particle physics that haven't been developed. Scientific study of antimatter would be high as people would be rushing for Nobel prizes for discovering why the universe stopped creating antimatter a billionth of a second into it and continued to make ordinary matter- which along with dark matter and dark energy are the biggest mysteries in physics today!

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This question asks for hard science. All answers to this question should be backed up by equations, empirical evidence, scientific papers, other citations, etc. Answers that do not satisfy this requirement might be removed. See the tag description for more information.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site Benjamin. $\endgroup$ – James Jan 13 '16 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ welcome to worldbuilding.SE Benjamin $\endgroup$ – Hendrik Lie Jan 13 '16 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ I just want to tell that excluding the fact that my question had been answered (i'm okay with it, as you may provide additional insight on how should I solve the problem), your answer seems to be out of topic. I'm not asking about how to contain antimatter, but asking whether or not my proposed method of containing it would work or not. While it is nice to have additional answer to pick, it would be nicer if the answer answered my question properly. Good try though, but I would be happy should you revise your answer to keep it on topic to the question :) $\endgroup$ – Hendrik Lie Jan 13 '16 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ I was actually broadening horizons and expanding on previous points, while I am aware of the previous answer I like to provide a larger insight on topics $\endgroup$ – Benjamin Jan 13 '16 at 15:30
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    $\begingroup$ Anti matter produced by a collider can never be a fuel source, only a storage medium. It is also thought to be theoretically impossible to produce anti-matter at any kind of high efficiency, much less approaching 100%. You are also way off on the cost of anti-matter production using colliders, closer to $100 trillion/gm than $1 billion/gm. So no, it can't replace fossil fuels. $\endgroup$ – Gary Walker Aug 31 '16 at 8:10

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