January 30, 2012

Minirailguns for commerical nuclear fusion update

HyperV Technologies is trying to develop minirailguns for the world’s first commercially viable fusion reactor technology. Their research could result in the development of a controlled hot fusion reactor that is scalable to provide between 100 MW and 2,000 MW of clean base load electric power.

There was a 20 page presentation from June of 2011. Imploding Plasma Liners as a Standoff Driver for Magneto-Inertial Fusion

They are firing milligrams of plasma at 140 times the speed of sound. The commercial energy generating version will fire the plasmas at 285 times the speed of sound. The breakeven nuclear fusion facilities will cost less than $100 million.

Magneto-inertial fusion (MIF): Pulsed fusion approach with a magnetic field in the compressed fusion fuel

* Magnetic field:
o reduces thermal transport
o enhances α-particle deposition within burning fuel
o Lowers ρr ignition threshold
* Lower required implosion velocities (1–100 km/s) compared to ICF (350 km/s)
* Allows use of more efficient and cheaper pulsed power (few $/J)
* MIF energy concepts aim for ηG ~ 0.5×20 rather than ηG ~ 0.1×100 as for ICF
* Several approaches being studied: solid liner MTF (LANL/AFRL), MagLIF (Sandia), magnetized ICF (Rochester), plasma liner driven MIF (LANL)

PLX has three key science and technology objectives in the next few years

1. Form dense high Mach number high Z (Ar, Xe) plasma jets with required density (~10^17 cm-3), mass (~few mg), and velocity (>50 km/s)
2. Demonstrate imploding plasma liner formation and predictive physics understanding of underlying steps:
o jet evolution from chamber wall to “merging” radius rm
o liner formation via jet merging (plasma inter-penetration, shock dynamics,
o liner convergence (pressure amplification, atomic physics effects, liner
o stagnation (peak pressure scaling, conversion of liner kinetic energy to
thermal/radiation energy, confinement time)
3. Standoff magnetization via laser generated beat wave current drive

* 1D rad-hydro simulations have improved our understanding of liner implosion &
scaling, and preliminary 3D ideal hydro simulation results are promising
* There is much room for optimization including liner profile shaping and use of

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