Source: Forbes.com, by James Conca, February 26
A new company in Seattle, CTFusion, was recently awarded a $3 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency in Energy to help it develop the first commercial fusion reactor on this planet.
CTFusion seeks to provide flexible, carbon-free electricity using the same process that operates in stars.
Fusion is the process of building up simple atoms into larger more complex ones. It releases a lot of energy, and occurs every day in our Sun as well as almost every other star in the Universe. The trick for humans is to harness it on Earth for producing clean abundant energy.
Fusion is the opposite of fission, which is the process of breaking apart atoms. Both release energy under the right conditions. For fission, the bigger the atom, the more energy is released. For fusion, the opposite is true – the smaller the atoms used, the more energy that is released.
For this reason, most efforts towards fusion concentrate on hydrogen fusion, the smallest of atoms, to release the most energy. One of the challenges of fusion is the temperature required to produce significant amounts of power from an ionized gas (plasma).
CTFusion is using a novel approach to deuterium-tritium (DT) magnetic fusion energy by employing a compact toroid configuration called a spheromak (see figure below). This is maintained with the company’s plasma current sustainment technology imposed-dynamo current drive (IDCD) in a donut-shaped toroid.
The goal is to provide a commercially viable, grid deployable power plant design around the year 2030.