Sheared Flow Stabilized Z-Pinch Performance Improvement

Default ARPA-E Project Image

Seattle, Washington
Project Term:
07/01/2020 - 06/30/2023

Technology Description:

A Z-pinch fusion device has an electrical current driven through the fusion fuel, creating self-generated magnetic fields that compress and heat the fuel toward fusion conditions. While a Z-pinch with no equilibrium flows has rapidly growing instabilities that disrupt the plasma within nanoseconds, the Z-pinch can be stabilized if an axial plasma flow varying strongly enough with radius is introduced. This sheared-flow stabilized (SFS) Z-pinch may be the simplest and most compact of all known controlled-fusion approaches, as it does not require magnetic coils nor any external heating systems other than the source to drive the electrical current. Under the ALPHA and OPEN 2018 programs, the SFS Z-pinch provided evidence of a fusion triple product exceeding 1017 keV s/m3, a factor of 50 increase in 3–4 years. This project will enable Zap Energy to build a more versatile SFS Z‑pinch device to eventually allow for independent control of the plasma formation and acceleration stages. They will use the new device to advance their triple product toward breakeven conditions.

Potential Impact:

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.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Ahmed Diallo
Project Contact:
Dr. Brian Nelson
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

Related Projects

Release Date: