General Fusion is developing a full-scale fusion demonstrator to prove the viability of our approach. This builds upon our experimental work, which proved that magnetized plasmas can be compressed to thermonuclear conditions using acoustic means. Our approach has been further validated by a number of leading experts in the nuclear fusion scientific community, and through the due diligence of our private-sector and government investors.
Our generator will operate in a repeating cycle, with each cycle culminating in a burst of fusion energy.
Each cycle will involve:
creating plasma of deuterium and tritium,
trapping the plasma within a magnetic field,
compressing the magnetic field and the plasma within it to thermonuclear conditions, and
capturing the heat that results from the fusion reaction and using it to generate electricity and power the next cycle.
Physically, our generator will consist of a spherical tank filled with a liquid mixture of lead and lithium. The liquid will be spun by tangential injection to create a vertical cylindrical vortex cavity in the centre of the sphere.
A plasma injector will be mounted on each end of the vortex cavity. Each plasma injector will heat a puff of deuterium-tritium gas to 1 million degrees using a high-voltage electrical discharge from a bank of capacitors. Each puff of gas will form in the midst of magnetic fields that will cause it to form a closed, toroidal (doughnut) shape and to peel off the end of the injector somewhat like a smoke ring.
The two plasma toroids, one from each injector, will meet in the centre of the vortex and combine to form a single magnetized plasma target, somewhat analogous to the combination of two soap bubbles. This combined plasma at the centre of the reaction chamber will have a maximum life of a few hundred microseconds before it dissipates.
The outside of the spherical tank will be studded with approximately 200 pneumatic pistons. These pistons will impact the tank, inducing a spherical acoustic compression wave in the liquid metal that will travel to the centre of the sphere. As the acoustic wave travels through the lead and focuses towards the centre, it will become stronger and evolve into an intense shock wave. When the shock wave arrives in the centre, it will rapidly collapse the vortex cavity and the plasma confined within it, creating thermonuclear conditions in the process.
The pneumatic pistons will be controlled by a system that times their impacts precisely to create a symmetrical compression shockwave in the cavity. The control system will adjust the timing of individual piston impacts to control the shape of the cavity as it collapses; compensate for physical and thermal effects and variations within the generator; and, adjust for changes over time as equipment wears and parameters vary.