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Exploring the future of magnetic inertial fusion through similarity scaling

MAR 31, 2023
An analytical framework provides a fast method to extrapolate existing experimental results to high-yield next-generation fusion facilities.
Exploring the future of magnetic inertial fusion through similarity scaling internal name

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Nuclear fusion may become the energy source of the future, provided research demonstrates commercially relevant energy yield. One possible solution is Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion (MagLIF), which is a magnetic-inertial-fusion concept that uses external magnetic fields, lasers, and large electrical currents to compress and confine plasmas at thermonuclear conditions. The first step for MagLIF is to assess its potential to achieve high-fusion yields in the laboratory — a prerequisite for enabling grid-size power plants in the future.

Ruiz et al. developed an analytical framework to explore the performance of scaled-up MagLIF designs through similarity scaling.

“There is wide interest in extrapolating MagLIF to achieve high-fusion yields by using more energetic and powerful pulsed-power drivers,” said author Daniel Ruiz. “To assess the promise of MagLIF, it is important to make extrapolations of its performance while maintaining high levels of confidence.”

The authors created their framework by identifying dimensionless parameters governing the main physical processes involved in MagLIF implosions and kept the parameters constant when scaling a MagLIF design. In follow-up studies, they used this framework to explore the performance of MagLIF when scaling it with respect to peak current and current-rise time. They compared theoretical predictions to radiation-magnetohydrodynamic simulations and found agreement.

The MagLIF team plans to further test the theoretical model with experiments at the Z Pulsed-Power Facility at Sandia National Laboratories. These experiments will examine the scaling theory across a range of peak currents to extrapolate MagLIF to future, more powerful pulsed-power facilities.

“A successful outcome of these experiments will demonstrate that we know how to scale MagLIF and will bolster our confidence for making extrapolations in performance of the platform to future, more energetic pulsed-power drivers,” said Ruiz.

Source: “Exploring the parameter space of MagLIF implosions using similarity scaling. I. Theoretical framework,” by D. E. Ruiz, P. F. Schmit, D. A. Yager-Elorriaga, C. A. Jennings, and K. Beckwith, Physics of Plasmas (2023). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0126696 .

Source: “Exploring the parameter space of MagLIF implosions using similarity scaling. II. Current scaling,” by D. E. Ruiz, P. F. Schmit, D. A. Yager-Elorriaga, M. R. Gomez, M. R. Weis, C. A. Jennings, A. J. Harvey-Thompson, P. F. Knapp, S. A. Slutz, D. J. Ampleford, K. Beckwith, and M. K. Matzen, Physics of Plasmas (2023). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0126699 .

Source: “Exploring the parameter space of MagLIF implosions using similarity scaling. III. Rise-time scaling,” by D. E.Ruiz, P. F. Schmit, M. R. Weis, K. J. Peterson, and M. K. Matzen, Physics of Plasmas (2023). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0126700 .

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