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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.
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:
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 who did his PhD thesis on fusors at MIT. Chase said that “the fuel (two isotopes of hydrogen) has six orders 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.”