Creation of a high-temperature plasma through merging and compression of supersonic field reversed configuration plasmoids
A new device, the Inductive Plasma Accelerator, was employed to simultaneously form and accelerate two oppositely directed field reversed configurations (FRCs) where the relative velocity (600 km s-1) of the plasmoids was much larger than their internal thermal motion. Upon collision all of the FRC directional energy was observed to be rapidly thermalized concurrent with complete magnetic reconnection of the two FRCs. Upon merging, the resulting FRC was compressed to kilovolt ion temperatures exhibiting a configuration lifetime better than predicted by past scaling of in situ formed FRCs. With the improved FRC confinement scaling, a pulsed plasma device based on this approach capable of achieving fusion gain is examined. For an FRC with a poloidal flux 20 mWb or greater, the fusion energy yield per pulse exceeds the plasma energy for compression fields of 10 T or more. The scaling is insensitive to the compression chamber radial scale, providing for the possibility of a very compact fusion neutron source.