Plasma Liner Compression of Compact Toroids to Fusion Conditions
Nuclear fusion has the potential to satisfy the prodigious power demands of the future. It has yet to be harnessed as a practical energy source because of the challenge of finding an economical way to confine and heat the plasma fuel. The main reason for this is the complexity and size of the confinement systems. Essentially, the more massive the system required to confine and heat the fusion plasma, the higher the cost to develop and operate. A simpler path to fusion can be achieved by creating fusion conditions in a different regime at small scale (~ a few centimeters). This project uses developments in the very compact, high energy density regime of fusion commonly referred to as a Field Reversed Configuration (FRC). To make fusion practical at this smaller scale, an efficient method for compressing the FRC to fusion conditions is required. This project will use a plasma shell to compress and heat the FRC plasmoid. The closed magnetic field in the target plasmoid suppresses the thermal transport to the confining shell, lowering the imploding power needed to compress the target. With this configuration, many of the difficulties encountered with the implosion power technology are eliminated or minimized. This project will evaluate the feasibility of achieving fusion conditions from this comparatively simple and relatively low cost approach to fusion. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: In Phase I, the FRC plasmoid accelerator demonstrated the dynamic formation of a FRC suitable for the plasma liner compression experiment. In phase II a high density FRC plasmoid will be formed and accelerated into a compression chamber. The FRC will then be rapidly compressed by a deuterium plasma liner to fusion temperatures and densities. Experimental success would establish the concept at the Â¿proof of principleÂ¿ level and the follow-on phase III effort would focus on the development of the concept into a fusion gain device.
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