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Plasma Physics (Physics/ECE/NE 922) Seminar
Heavy Ion Fusion: New Paradigm and Strategy to Fit the Technology
Date: Monday, March 19th
Time: 12:00 pm
Place: 2241 Chamberlin Hall
Speaker: Dr. Alex T. Burke, Arcata Systems
Abstract: Heavy Ion Fusion (HIF) burst on the scene in 1976, based on the insight, from Al Mashke (Brookhaven) and Ron Martin (Argonne), that particle accelerator technology had the necessary energy to ignite fusion pellets by driving them with high-energy beams of heavy ions. It became widely recognized that RF accelerators, because of their efficiency, durability and rep-rate, have the greatest potential as drivers for future inertial fusion power plants. Just as quickly, in 1979, funding of the high-energy physics (HEP) and accelerator communities to continue HIF development came to a screeching halt. Why did this happen? The best answer is that, being an ICF (Inertial Confinement Fusion) technology, HIF intersected with the classified area of H-bombs and therefore fell under the purview of the weapons labs. But HIF wasn’t needed for (in fact conflicted with) the mandate of weapons technology and stockpile stewardship; most of the accelerator and the HEP community is “open” and therefore separate from the classified world of weapons. Despite a paucity of funding for HIF in the U.S. and worldwide, important technological advances have been made since 1979 that add more confidence and less risk to HIF, such as cylindrical fusion pellets with fast ignition, and the Single-Pass RF Driver concept that eliminates the need for storage rings and greatly increases the brightness of the final beams delivered to the pellet. The attractiveness of the physics and economics of large scale HIF leads us to consider a new paradigm in the form of very big power plants on the order of 100GW instead of the canonical 1GW. This implies a new paradigm not only for fusion technology but for how society gets energy, develops resources and produces raw materials for the economy such as liquid fuel, electricity, and water. This talk will concentrate on how private industry can lead the way to such a "game changing" paradigm shift in future energy supplies in the 21st Century.
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