High beta fusion reactor

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Charles Chase and his team at Lockheed have developed a high beta configuration, which allows a compact reactor design and speedier development timeline (5 years instead of 30).

The high beta fusion reactor (also known as the 4th generation prototype T4) is a project being developed by a team led by Charles Chase of Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works. The "high beta" configuration allows a compact fusion reactor design and speedier development timeline (5 years instead of 30). It was presented at the Google Solve for X forum on February 7, 2013.[1]


The device is 2x2x4 meters in size. It is cylindrical shaped. It has a vacuum inside with high magnetic fields, made using electromagnets. Uncharged deuterium gas is injected. It is heated using radio waves, in much the same way a microwave heats food. When the gas temperature reaches over 16 electron-volts, the gas ionizes into ions and electrons. This plasma exerts a pressure on the surrounding magnetic fields. This plasma pressure is counterbalanced by the magnetic field pressure in a beta ratio:

\beta = \frac{p}{p_{mag}} = \frac{n k_B T}{(B^2/2\mu_0)} [2]

The plan is to reach a high-beta ratio. Plans call for a compact 100 MW machine. The company hopes to have a prototype working by 2017, scale it up to a full production model by 2022 and to be able to meet global baseload energy demand by 2050. Here are some other characteristics of this machine:

The machine was designed by Dr. Thomas McGuire[3] who did his PhD thesis[4][5] on fusors at MIT. Chase said that “the fuel (two isotopes of hydrogen) has six orders [1.000.000] of magnitude higher energy density than oil. You can’t make a bomb from it, and it has no meltdown risk. It’s very different from nuclear fission reactors.”[3][6]

See also[edit]