Fusion reactions within dense plasma focus plasmoids

Eric J. Lerner, et al., from Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Inc. used the 4 Picos intensified CCD camera to image dense plasma focus plasmoids. The 4 Picos is used for fusion diagnostics which happens within the generated plasmoids.

 ICCD 4Picos in the experimental setup of focus fusion diagnostic.

The experimental setup of the dense plasma focus with the 4 Picos ICCD camera from the backside facing the window of the vacuum chamber. Figure reprinted with permission of the Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc (2012).

 

The dense plasma focus device enables fusion reactions

The dense plasma focus(DPF) device has long been known to be an efficient source of neutrons from fusion reactions and of MeV-energy ion and electron beams. It also produces dense concentrations of hot plasma, or plasmoids. Eric J. Lerner and his team are using this device to generate the environmental conditions which are necessary for fusion reactions. They have reported fusion reactions from deuterium ions with energies of >150keV. The observed conditions are of interest for nuclear fusion using hydrogen-Boron-11 fuel.

Nuclear fusion using hydrogen-Boron-11

Controlled nuclear fusion using hydrogen-Boron-11 (p-B11) fuel could constitute a transformative source of electricity with major advantages over any other known source of energy. The released energy is carried only by charged particles in contrast to the neutrons generated by deuterium-tritium fusion approaches. Hence the electricity can be directly converted from the kinetic energy of these charged particles without going through the inherently expensive process of using heat to produce steam to run turbine and generator. However, two major technical challenges are still unsolved. First, the temperature for the fusion reaction need to be reached and second the increased cooling due to X-ray emission need to be reduced. Eric J. Lerner and his team are convinced that these technical challenges can be solved using the dense plasma focus device.

Dense Plasma Focus for nuclear fusion

The Dense Plasma Focus (DPF) is a compact and simple device which first was developed in the 1960s by N. V. Filippov and J. W. Mather. It consists of two concentric cylindrical electrodes enclosed in a vacuum chamber. In operation, a pulse of electricity is discharged across the electrodes. The gas is ionized and a current sheath forms and runs down the electrodes. At the end of the inner electrode the filaments pinch together and forming dense magnetically confined hot spots which are called plasmoids.

 Image 1 of the DPF fusion reaction taken with the 4 Picos ICCD camera. Image 2 of the DPF fusion reaction taken with the 4 Picos ICCD camera.

Images of the filaments within a dense plasma focus device taken with the 4 Picos ICCD camera. On the left site the filaments run along the electrodes. The right image shows the concentration of the filaments in a central region. The filaments pinch together are forming dense plasmoids. Plasmoids provide the conditions for fusion reactions. The applied exposure time of the 4 Picos was 200 picoseconds. The 4 Picos took the highest-resolution image of a DPF plasmoid yet obtained. Figure reprint with permission of the Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc (2012).
 

Plasmoids provide the environment for fusion reaction

The plasmoids have core densities in the range of 1020 to 1021 cm-3. At these conditions occur enough ion collisions, generating fusion reactions and neutrons. When the emitted ion and electron beams have exhausted the magnetic energy that confines the plasmoid the fusion reactions end. This happens within nanoseconds. The images above show the generation of plasmoids within the dense plasma focus. These images are taken with the 4 Picos ICCD camera using the exposure time of 200ps.

This video shows a image sequence taken with the 4 Picos ICCD camera at LPP's Focus Fusion-1 Dense Plasma Focus. The images have been stitched together as if to represent a single experimental shot, although each frame comes from a different firing of the device.

High resolution images of the plasmoid

Eric J. Lerner and his team used the 4 Picos ICCD camera to image the plasmoids at high spatial (30µm) and temporal (200ps) resolution. They could observe the region where fusion reactions from deuterium ions were happening within the imaged plasmoids. Furthermore, the conditions obtained in reported experiments with deuterium are of interest for aneutronic fusion, such as p-B11. The accomplishment of nuclear fusion using p-B11 fuel could lead to an unlimited clean energy source.


Title:         Fusion reactions from >150 keV ions in a dense plasma focus plasmoid
Author:     Eric J. Lerner, et al.
Institute:   Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc., Middlesex, New Jersey, USA

Title:        Theory and Experimental Program for p-B11 Fusion with the Dense Plasma Focus
Author:     Eric J. Lerner, et al.
Institute:   Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc., Middlesex, New Jersey, USA


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