top of page

Kronos S.M.A.R.T. Neutralized-Ion Beam Technology for Fusion-Plasma Heating and Current Drive

Kronos S.M.A.R.T. Neutralized-Ion Beam Technology for Fusion-Plasma Heating and Current Drive

Contemporary fusion reactor designs predominantly employ high-power microwave sources and neutral-particle beams for plasma heating, current drive, and fueling. However, these methods face efficiency constraints and heightened costs, particularly when tailoring for the specific requirements of the burning plasma environment. This whitepaper introduces the innovative concept of using Neutralized-Ion Beam (NIB) technology as a scalable, compact, and efficient alternative to current mainstream technologies.
1. Background

In pursuit of sustainable and efficient energy sources, fusion power plants are seen as a beacon of hope. Current fusion reactor technologies leverage high-power microwave sources and neutral-particle beams for essential functions such as plasma heating, current drive, and fueling. Yet, these technologies present inherent challenges, including limited efficiencies, increased costs, and specific implementation hurdles.
2. Introduction to Neutralized-Ion Beam (NIB)

A promising alternative, the Neutralized-Ion Beam (NIB), provides an intense flow of plasma with particle energies in the range of E_ion: 100-1,000 keV. Its salient features include:

Compactness: Reduces the footprint when compared to larger technologies.

Scalability: Can be augmented or reduced based on requirement without compromising efficiency.

High Efficiency: NIBs demonstrate significantly improved efficiency compared to conventional methods.

Versatility: The ability to supplement, enhance, or even replace existing technologies.

Furthermore, the evolution and refinement of power conditioning methods used in NIBs align with the requirements of energy-converter technologies for an aneutronic-fusion reactor.
3. Technical Overview of NIB

A neutralized-ion beam source's fundamental concept involves producing ions at high density within the anode electrode. These ions are then impulsively injected into a magnetically-insulated acceleration gap. This procedure ensures suppression of electron backflow, permitting optimal ion flow.

NIBs have exhibited the capacity to produce high purity beams, presenting promising possibilities for fusion reactors.
4. Advantages Over Neutral-Particle Beams (NPB)

While both NIBs and NPBs share similar subcomponents, the efficiency and size differences are pronounced:

Higher Efficiency: NIBs boast an efficiency rate of about 80%, whereas NPBs have a reduced efficiency of around 26%.

Compactness: NIBs, due to their inherent design, occupy significantly less space compared to NPBs, offering more flexibility in fusion reactor setups.

5. Implications for Fusion Reactors

The application of NIB technology in fusion reactors is manifold:

Direct Heating: The capacity to inject charge, mass, and heat flow directly into a magnetically-confined plasma.

Enhanced Efficiency: The external heating source's enhanced efficiency can exponentially increase the fusion-energy gain in a fusion power plant.

Longevity: Past examples suggest the possibility of NIB systems operating continuously for extensive durations without technology-induced interruptions.

6. Pioneers in NIB Development

Dr. Wessel, with extensive experience in repetitively-pulsed, intense-ion beams and NIB penetration into magnetically-confined plasmas, stands as a trailblazer in this domain. As the Plasma Physicist at Kronos Fusion Energy Incorporated, he has been pivotal in the development and promotion of NIB technology. His collaboration with esteemed institutions like UCSD, UNR, Cornell University, and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories further underscores the credibility and potential of the technology.
7. Conclusion and Future Directions

Neutralized-Ion Beam (NIB) technology presents a promising avenue for enhancing fusion-plasma heating, current drive, and fueling. Its scalability, efficiency, and compactness position it as a favorable alternative to conventional methods. With experts like Dr. Wessel leading its development, there's substantial optimism surrounding its future applications and contributions to fusion reactor advancements.

For detailed figures, schematics, and further technical elucidation, refer to the comprehensive report.

bottom of page