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.
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.
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.
Fusion offers nearly zero emissions and produces manageable waste products without any long-lived radioactivity.
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.