Seminar: Progress and Challenges in TAE’s Quest Towards a Practical FRC-based Fusion Reactor

  • Date:
  • Location: Zoom:
  • Lecturer: Artem Smirnov, Chief Technology Officer at TAE Technologies.
  • Contact person: Maja Olvegård
  • Seminarium

TAE Technologies, Inc. (TAE) is a privately funded company pursuing a novel approach to magnetic confinement fusion, which relies on Field-Reversed Configuration (FRC) plasmas composed of mostly energetic and stable particles. This advanced FRC-based system simplifies the reactor design and could offer a path forward to clean, safe, and economical aneutronic p-B 11 fusion.

To validate the science behind the FRC-based approach to fusion, an active experimental program is underway at TAE’s state-of-the-art plasma research facility in Orange County, California. The core of the facility is the world’s largest FRC device named Norman. In Norman, tangential injection of variable energy neutral beams (15 – 40 keV hydrogen, up to 20 MW total), coupled with plasma edge biasing, active plasma control, and advanced surface conditioning, led to production of steady-state, hot FRC plasmas dominated by fast ion pressure. High-performance, advanced beam-driven FRCs were produced [1,2], characterized by (1) macroscopic stability, (2) steady-state plasma sustainment, and (3) dramatically reduced transport rates (more than an order of magnitude improvement over conventional FRCs). Collectively, these accomplishments represent a strong argument validating the FRC-based approach to fusion power.

To further the beam-driven FRC research effort, a reactor relevant prototype (1 MeV, 5 MW, 1000 s) of a negative-ion-based neutral beam injector is being developed [3]. Compared to conventional designs, several breakthrough innovations were introduced in this system, which increase the beam reliability, robustness, and power efficiency. The development of injector components is carried out in parallel to enabling full prototype demonstration on a megavolt acceleration test bed.

This talk will provide an overview of the TAE experimental program, with the emphasis on the accelerator technology, including its potential applications outside of fusion.


[1] H. Gota et al., Nucl. Fusion 59, 112009 (2019)

[2] M. Binderbauer et al., Phys Plasmas 22, 056110 (2015)

[3] A. A. Ivanov et al., Rev. Sci. Instrum 85, 02B102 (2014).