High beta fusion reactor
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (October 2013)|
The high beta fusion reactor (also known as the 4th generation prototype T4) is a project being developed by a team led by Charles Chase of Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works. The "high beta" configuration allows a compact fusion reactor design and speedier development timeline (5 years instead of 30). It was presented at the Google Solve for X forum on February 7, 2013.
The device is 2x2x4 meters in size. It is cylindrical shaped. It has a vacuum inside with high magnetic fields, made using electromagnets. Uncharged deuterium gas is injected. It is heated using radio waves, in much the same way a microwave heats food. When the gas temperature reaches over 16 electron-volts, the gas ionizes into ions and electrons. This plasma exerts a pressure on the surrounding magnetic fields. This plasma pressure is counterbalanced by the magnetic field pressure in a beta ratio:
The plan is to reach a high-beta ratio. Plans call for a compact 100 MW machine. The company hopes to have a prototype working by 2017, scale it up to a full production model by 2022 and to be able to meet global baseload energy demand by 2050. Here are some other characteristics of this machine:
- The magnetic field increases the farther out that the plasma goes, which pushes the plasma back in.
- It also has very few open field lines (very few paths for the plasma to leak out; uses a cylinder, not a Tokamak ring).
- Very good arch curvature of the field lines.
- The system has a beta of about 1.
- This system uses deuterium.
- The system heats the plasma using radio waves.
The machine was designed by Dr. Thomas McGuire who did his PhD thesis on fusors at MIT. Chase said that “the fuel (two isotopes of hydrogen) has six orders [1.000.000] of magnitude higher energy density than oil. You can’t make a bomb from it, and it has no meltdown risk. It’s very different from nuclear fission reactors.”
- Beta (plasma physics)
- Inertial electrostatic confinement
- Magnetic mirror
- Fusion power
- FuseNet: The European Fusion Education Network, backup
- Wesson, J: "Tokamaks", 3rd edition page 115, Oxford University Press, 2004
- Youtube: Charles Chase on energy for everyone
- "Improved Lifetimes and Synchronization Behavior in Multi-grid Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusion Devices", Feb 2007, MIT, DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN AERONAUTICS AND ASTRONAUTICS, backup
- "Numerical Predictions of Enhanced Ion Confinement in a Multi-grid IEC Device", McGuire, Sedwick, 44th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit 21–23 July 2008, Hartford, CT
- Fusion Power Could Happen Sooner Than You Think, backup