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Title:Collimation of deuterium / 3-helium fusion products for advanced spacecraft propulsion and power
Author(s):Webber, Jason A.
Advisor(s):Miley, George H.
Department / Program:Nuclear, Plasma, & Rad Engr
Discipline:Nuclear Engineering
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:M.S.
Genre:Thesis
Subject(s):Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC)
Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusion
Nuclear fusion
Direct Energy Conversion
Deuterium Helium 3 (d-He3)
Spacecraft Propulsion
Spacecraft Power
Magnetic Confinement Fusion
Particle Collimation
Proton Collimation
Isotropic Source Conversion
Nuclear Energy
Magnetic Hexapole
Abstract:Current space exploration has transpired through the use of chemical rockets, and they have served us well, but they have their limitations. Exploration of the outer solar system, Jupiter and beyond will most likely require a new generation of propulsion system. One potential technology class to provide spacecraft propulsion and power systems involve thermonuclear fusion plasma systems. In this class it is well accepted that d-He3 fusion is the most promising of the fuel candidates for spacecraft applications as the 14.7 MeV protons carry up to 80% of the total fusion power while ‘s have energies less than 4 MeV. The other minor fusion products from secondary d-d reactions consisting of 3He, n, p, and 3H also have energies less than 4 MeV. Furthermore there are two main fusion subsets namely, Magnetic Confinement Fusion devices and Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (or IEC) Fusion devices. Magnetic Confinement Fusion devices are characterized by complex geometries and prohibitive structural mass compromising spacecraft use at this stage of exploration. While generating energy from a lightweight and reliable fusion source is important, another critical issue is harnessing this energy into usable power and/or propulsion. IEC fusion is a method of fusion plasma confinement that uses a series of biased electrodes that accelerate a uniform spherical beam of ions into a hollow cathode typically comprised of a gridded structure with high transparency. The inertia of the imploding ion beam compresses the ions at the center of the cathode increasing the density to the point where fusion occurs. Since the velocity distributions of fusion particles in an IEC are essentially isotropic and carry no net momentum, a means of redirecting the velocity of the particles is necessary to efficiently extract energy and provide power or create thrust. There are classes of advanced fuel fusion reactions where direct-energy conversion based on electrostatically-biased collector plates is impossible due to potential limits, material structure limitations, and IEC geometry. Thermal conversion systems are also inefficient for this application. A method of converting the isotropic IEC into a collimated flow of fusion products solves these issues and allows direct energy conversion. An efficient traveling wave direct energy converter has been proposed and studied by Momota , Shu and further studied by evaluated with numerical simulations by Ishikawa and others. One of the conventional methods of collimating charged particles is to surround the particle source with an applied magnetic channel. Charged particles are trapped and move along the lines of flux. By introducing expanding lines of force gradually along the magnetic channel, the velocity component perpendicular to the lines of force is transferred to the parallel one. However, efficient operation of the IEC requires a null magnetic field at the core of the device. In order to achieve this, Momota and Miley have proposed a pair of magnetic coils anti-parallel to the magnetic channel creating a null hexapole magnetic field region necessary for the IEC fusion core. Numerically, collimation of 300 eV electrons without a stabilization coil was demonstrated to approach 95% at a profile corresponding to Vsolenoid = 20.0V, Ifloating = 2.78A, Isolenoid = 4.05A while collimation of electrons with stabilization coil present was demonstrated to reach 69% at a profile corresponding to Vsolenoid = 7.0V, Istab = 1.1A, Ifloating = 1.1A, Isolenoid = 1.45A. Experimentally, collimation of electrons with stabilization coil present was demonstrated experimentally to be 35% at 100 eV and reach a peak of 39.6% at 50eV with a profile corresponding to Vsolenoid = 7.0V, Istab = 1.1A, Ifloating = 1.1A, Isolenoid = 1.45A and collimation of 300 eV electrons without a stabilization coil was demonstrated to approach 49% at a profile corresponding to Vsolenoid = 20.0V, Ifloating = 2.78A, Isolenoid = 4.05A 6.4% of the 300eV electrons’ initial velocity is directed to the collector plates. The remaining electrons are trapped by the collimator’s magnetic field. These particles oscillate around the null field region several hundred times and eventually escape to the collector plates. At a solenoid voltage profile of 7 Volts, 100 eV electrons are collimated with wall and perpendicular component losses of 31%. Increasing the electron energy beyond 100 eV increases the wall losses by 25% at 300 eV. Ultimately it was determined that a field strength deriving from 9.5 MAT/m would be required to collimate 14.7 MeV fusion protons from d-3He fueled IEC fusion core. The concept of the proton collimator has been proven to be effective to transform an isotropic source into a collimated flow of particles ripe for direct energy conversion.
Issue Date:2011-05-25
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/24342
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Jason A. Webber
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-25
Date Deposited:2011-05


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