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Next-Generation PFRC

Princeton Fusion Systems
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$1,249,970
Location: 
Plainsboro, NJ
Project Term: 
03/25/2019 to 09/30/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
The Princeton field-reversed configuration (PFRC) fusion project aims to develop small, simple, and clean fusion power generators in the 1-10 MW "micro-reactor" class. The PFRC promises a new approach to fusion power-generation design. The PFRC-2 iteration holds the world record for stable field-reversed configuration plasma duration. The Princeton Fusion Systems team will upgrade the PFRC-2 to enable increases in fuel density to the 1013-cm-3 range and reproducible electron and ion heating both to the kilo-electronvolt (keV) range. These objectives will require upgrades to the radio-frequency (rf) forward power and magnetic field strength, as well as the application of sophisticated diagnostics to measure temperature inside the upgraded PFRC-2. The high-beta (ratio of plasma pressure to magnetic pressure) configuration may enable the high plasma temperatures needed for fusion to be achieved with a relatively modest magnetic field, and eventually the use of advanced fusion fuels that produce little to no radioactivity.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Princeton Fusion Systems seeks to develop technologies to enable future commercial fusion power. The team's PFRC concept is a small, clean, and portable design based on a field-reversed-configuration plasma. The concept uses an innovative method called odd-parity rotating-magnetic-field (RMF) heating to drive electrical current and heat plasma to fusion temperatures. Odd-parity heating holds the potential to heat ions and electrons to fusion-relevant temperatures in a stable, sustained plasma, while maintaining good energy confinement. The team will pursue improved electron and ion temperatures through odd-parity RMF heating, as well as identify the modeling needed to elucidate the key heating and loss mechanisms for their fusion concept. The team's proposed power plant design seeks a very small footprint for a compact, potentially transportable energy source that is fully deployable and emissions-free. When completed, PFRC-2 will demonstrate the core physics for the PFRC-type commercial reactor that will lead to the rapid development of a proof-of-concept machine.
Potential Impact: 
The upgraded PFRC-2 would be a world-class, compact platform for fusion research that could provide the basis for continued development toward a PFRC prototype commercial power generator.
Security: 
This small and clean power generator would be portable and safe. The design prioritizes low radioactivity, reducing the shielding so that the reactor could potentially fit onto a truck, and people could perform regular work close by.
Environment: 
Fusion offers nearly zero emissions and produces manageable waste products without any long-lived radioactivity.
Economy: 
A 1-10-MW fusion power generator would be commercially relevant for many high-value space and military remote and portable applications, including disaster relief. Multiple such units could be used together for commercial distributed power generation.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Scott Hsu
Project Contact: 
Mr. Michael Paluszek
Release Date: 
11/15/2018