Fusion energy Helion passes 100 million degrees Celsius
Fusion energy is still under development. Helion Energy, based in Everett, Washington, became the first private company to exceed 100 million degrees Celsius in its sixth prototype Trenta fusion generator. Its prototype recently completed a 16-month test campaign and completed nearly 10,000 high-performance pulses.
A little theory
Nuclear fusion is a reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei are combined to form one or more different atomic nuclei and subatomic particles (neutrons or protons). The difference in mass between the reactants and products is manifested as either the release or the absorption of energy. This difference in mass arises due to the difference in atomic binding energy between the nuclei before and after the reaction. Fusion is the process that powers active or main sequence stars and other high-magnitude stars, where large amounts of energy are released.
Fusion energy, pulse reactor in practice
Reaching a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius is a major milestone in mechanical engineering. This temperature is considered to be the ideal fuel temperature at which a commercial power plant would have to operate.
The 16-month test campaign took fusion fuel performance to an unprecedented level and tested the life and reliability of key components of the fusion system.
Achieving these temperatures and confirming system reliability are “key milestones” that confirm plans to develop a cost-effective, zero-carbon power plant. That is, a power plant using pulsed, non-flammable and fusion equipment.
“These successes represent breakthrough discoveries that have a major impact on the development of technology to meet the growing need for electricity. At the same time, they will help dramatically reduce COx production and the impact on the global climate.
Plasma accelerator raises fusion fuel to 100 million degrees Celsius and directly extracts electricity with high-efficiency pulsed approach.
Deutherium and hellium-3 fuel is is heted to plasma conditions. Magnets confine this plasma in a Field reserved configuration.
Magnets accelerate the Field reserved configuration to 1 million mph from opposite ends of the 40-foot accelerator. They collie in the centre.
When the FRCs collide in the center of the system, they are further compressed by a powerful magnetic field until they reach fusion temperatures of 100 million degrees Celsius.
At this temperature, the deuterium and helium-3 ions are moving fast enough to overcome the forces that would otherwise keep them apart and they fuse. This releases more energy than is consumed by the fusion process. As new fusion energy is created, the plasma expands.
As the plasma expands, it pushes back on the magnetic field. By Faraday’s law, the change in field induces current, which is directly recaptured as electricity. This clean fusion electricity is used to power homes and communities, efficiently and affordably.
Helion Energy approach
Helion Energy’s approach to fusion energy differs from others in three main ways.
First, it uses a pulsed fusion system to help overcome the most challenging physical problems. It keeps its fusion equipment smaller than others and allows it to adjust performance based on need.
Second, the system is built to directly recover electricity. While other fusion systems heat water and generate steam to drive a turbine. The production of electricity by means of a steam turbine heated from a fusion reactor represents a significant reduction in efficiency.
Third, deuterium and helium-3 are used as fuel. This helps keep the whole system small and efficient.
For more detailed information on pulse reactor technology, including animations, see https://www.helionenergy.com/our-technology/