Jul 24, 2014 By M. Mitchell Waldrop and Nature magazine *The full article includes reference to Tri Alpha Energy and General Fusion.
Helion Energy in Redmond, Washington is developing a linear colliding-beam reactor that would be small enough to be carried on the back of a large truck. The Helion reactor will fire a steady stream of plasmoids from each side into a chamber, where the fuel is crushed by magnetic fields until fusion begins. Within one second, the fusion products are channelled away just as the next pair of plasmoids hurtles in. “The analogy we like to make is to a diesel engine,” says the company’s chief executive, David Kirtley. “On each stroke you inject the fuel, compress it with the piston it until it ignites without needing a spark, and the explosion pushes back on the piston.”
Helion has demonstrated the concept in a D–D reactor with plasmoids that fire once every three minutes, and it is now seeking $15 million in private financing over the next five years to develop a full-scale machine that could use D–T fuel to reach the break-even point, when it generates as much energy as it takes to run. The company hopes that its reactor could eventually reach the hotter conditions needed to fuse deuterium with helium-3, another combination that produces only α-particles and protons, with no neutron by-products.
Kirtley is optimistic about the money. “There is a giant market need for low-cost, safe, clean power,” he says. “So we’re seeing a big push in the private investment community to fund alternative ways to generate it.” And if the fund-raising is successful, says Kirtley, “our plan is to have our pilot power plant come online in six years.” Read more here.