Plasma Liner Compression of Compact Toroids to Fusion Conditions

Period of Performance: 01/01/2007 - 12/31/2007

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Msnw LLC
851 154th Ave NE
Redmond, WA -
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Nuclear fusion has the potential to satisfy the prodigious power that the world will demand in the future, but it has yet to be harnessed as a practical energy source. The main challenge is to identify an economical way to provide for the confinement and heating of the plasma fuel. The massive systems required to confine and heat the fusion plasma, are accompanied by unacceptably high costs to develop and operate these systems. It is the contention here that a simpler path to fusion can be achieved by creating fusion conditions in a different regime ¿ namely, at small scale (~ a few cm). To make fusion practical at this smaller scale, an efficient method is needed to repetitively compress a compact toroidal plasmoid known as a Field Reversed Configuration (FRC). This project will explore a promising approach to the compressional heating of the FRC: employing a plasma shell to radially compress and heat the FRC plasmoid to fusion conditions. The closed magnetic field in the target plasmoid suppresses the thermal transport to the confining shell, thus lowering the imploding power needed to compress the target. The approach should eliminate or minimize many of the difficulties encountered with implosion power technology. Phase I will evaluate the feasibility of achieving fusion gain from this remarkably simple and low cost approach to fusion. An experimental demonstration of the plasma liner compression of the FRC plasmoid to fusion temperatures will be carried out in Phase II. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: In addition to the obvious benefit of a near term, low cost, and practical approach to obtaining useful fusion energy, a successful compression would lead to benefits in various fields. For example, the work would be of direct benefit to other fusion pursuits, such as advanced fueling and momentum injection in tokamaks. There also would be a direct application to high-power electric propulsion for space applications