Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Novel Approach to Small Fusion

HyperV Technologies Corp. is taking a novel approach to small fusion, using mini-railguns to accelerate multiple supersonic plasma beams into a central target of deuterium or deuterium-tritium.

According to the FocusFusionSociety website:
... the approach is geared towards deuterium and/or deuterium-tritium fusion, as opposed to advanced fusion fuels, but success there would of course remain a huge accomplishment. Some of the links on HyperV’s site are under construction, but the technical materials show a well-credentialed academic/industry team, a talk at the 2009 International Conference on Plasma Science, and a publication calculating gain from their design published in Physics of Plasmas. The work has also received funding from the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Science. _FocusFusionSociety
A spherical array of minirailgun plasma accelerators is a potential driver for forming imploding spherical plasma liners that can reach HEDP-relevant ( about 0.1 Mbar) pressures upon stagnation. The liners would be formed via merging of 30 or more dense, high Mach number plasma jets (n about 10^16−17 cm−3, M about 10–35, v about 50–70 km/s, rjet about 5 cm) in a spherically convergent geometry. The small (typically 1-2 cm square bore x 15-50 cm length) parallel-plate railguns with ceramic insulators would use pulsed injection of high-Z gas at the breech via fast opening valves to produce high density plasma jets with velocity in the 50-100 km/s range. Recent tests at HyperV using a single pulsed capillary discharge injecting into the minirailgun breech have achieved plasma densities in the bore approaching 10^18 cm−3, with densities in the jet plume exceeding 1017 cm−3 at velocities above 50 km/s. Total plasma jet mass in these 1 cm square bore tests has not yet been determined, but similar tests of an earlier 6 mm square bore 13 cm long device, with a roughly 3 μs, 100 kA current pulse using an aluminized mylar fuse starting from rest, yielded 90 μg of plasma at 50 km/s, and about 40 μg at 63 km/s. A modest scaleup of the railgun to a 2 cm square bore operating at longer pulse widths of 200-300 kA should be capable of accelerating a few thousand micrograms of high-Z gas (e.g. xenon) to above 50 km/s. This performance should be sufficient for reaching HEDP-relevant pressures. _HyperV Presentation_quoted at NextBigFututre
HyperV Technologies is a US Virginia-based research group that aims to achieve "tunable" nuclear fusion power on the 100 MW and up scale. Its approach is to utilise a spherical array of magnetic railgun supersonic plasma jet injectors aimed at a central "magnetic fuel" target.
NextBigFuture HyperV

Brian Wang has more at NextBigFuture including graphics.

HyperV PDF Presentation on Mini-Railgun Plasma Injectors

More Technical Papers about HyperV's research

Several fusion approaches have studied the "colliding beam" approach, without success. The conventional laser inertial technique used at Livermore is another type of targeted energy approach, which has mainly succeeded in eating up many billions in research grants so far. General Fusion's approach to target-focused fusion involves a hybrid combination of magnetic confinement and pneumatic compression.

HyperV attempts to focus multiple plasma jets onto a magnetically confined central target, in a switched-pulse fashion. At this time -- like most of the other small fusion projects -- it appears to be purely in the research proof of concept stage.



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