Demonstration of Low-Density, High-Performance Operation of Sustained Spheromaks and Favorable Scalability toward Compact, Low-Cost Fusion Power Plants
The University of Washington will advance the technical viability of a novel method, Imposed-Dynamo Current Drive (IDCD), for sustaining and heating spheromak plasmas as the basis of compact, low-cost fusion power plants. A traditional tokamak fusion reactor has a toroidal confinement area, similar shape to a donut, with a hole in the middle. The spheromak reduces the size of the hole as much as possible, resulting in a spherical plasma shape similar to a cored apple. IDCD can efficiently couple large amounts of power to the plasma at much lower costs relative to other methods of higher-frequency plasma heating. The proposed R&D aims to achieve spheromak ion and electron temperatures > 100 eV during sustainment on an existing experimental prototype. Other R&D activities include computational tasks to support both the scientific and engineering design of next-step prototypes with higher fusion performance. This project will increase the technological readiness level of this lower-cost fusion concept to encourage further development toward commercial fusion energy with both public and private support.
Accelerating and lowering the costs of fusion development and eventual deployment will enable fusion energy to contribute to:
Fusion energy will ensure the U.S.’s technological lead and energy security.
Fusion energy will improve our chances of meeting growing global clean-energy demand and realizing cost-effective, net-zero carbon emissions, while minimizing pollution and avoiding long-lived radioactive waste.
As a disruptive technology, fusion energy will likely create new markets, opportunities, and export advantages for the U.S.