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Carl Weggel's Groundbreaking Fusion Energy Generator Design at Kronos Fusion Energy: Accelerating the Transition to Sustainable, Carbon-Free Energy Generation for the 21st Century

Derek Wells

Sep 9, 2022

With a 50-year track record of advocating for compact, ultra-high-field tokamaks, Carl Weggel is on a mission to revolutionize the energy industry through Kronos Fusion Energy's compact, affordable, and universally available aneutronic solution. Founded by Priyanca Ford, Kronos Fusion Energy has enlisted Weggel to guide the design of the groundbreaking commercial fusion-energy generator, S.M.A.R.T (Superconducting, Minimum-Aspect-Ratio Torus).

A staunch advocate for compact, ultra-high-field tokamaks for over 50 years, Carl Weggel is dedicated to revolutionizing the energy sector through Kronos Fusion Energy's compact, cost-effective, and universally accessible aneutronic solution. Kronos Fusion Energy, founded by Priyanca Ford, has enlisted Weggel's expertise to lead the design of their trailblazing commercial fusion-energy generator, S.M.A.R.T. (Superconducting, Minimum-Aspect-Ratio Torus).

During 1973-1975, Carl was entrusted by MIT's Dr. D. Montgomery with the ambitious task of designing the 14-tesla Toroidal Field (TF) magnet for MIT's record-setting Alcator "C" tokamak, which continues to hold the world record for the highest magnetic field. In 1980, Bruce Montgomery recommended Weggel to INESCO, a pioneering fusion startup based in San Diego, California. Weggel led INESCO's Magnet Division from 1980-1984, designing the 30-tesla Ohmic Heating (OH) and 16-tesla TF magnets for their Riggatrons, which could have become the world's first Q~40 power-generating tokamaks if funding had been secured.

Between 2018 and 2020, Carl and his twin brother Bob worked for Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), an MIT spin-out. Collaborating with a skilled, six-member team of audacious engineers, they designed the magnets for CFS's SPARC tokamak. By incorporating innovative ideas, the team rapidly boosted SPARC's performance from Q>2 to Q=11, surpassing even ITER at a mere 2% of the cost.

Despite ARC, SPARC's power-generating successor, demonstrating remarkable performance, its use of standard neutronic Deuterium plus Tritium fuel produces hazardous neutrons that necessitate thick shielding and lead to inefficient power extraction. To overcome this drawback, Kronos aims to exploit the superior aneutronic fuel source, Deuterium Plus Helium-3, in its version 2 release before 2035. Kronos' patented approach for an aneutronic Q40 fusion energy generator is currently being simulated at Virginia Tech with support from Konstantin Batygin of CalTech and Paul Weiss from UCLA/Harvard. Utilizing this fuel, protons are predominant, enabling direct electric power generation with near 100% Carnot efficiency using a standard magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) generator. Additionally, this same D-He3 fuel will be employed in Fusion Direct Drive (prototype launching ~2028), another significant undertaking by Kronos Fusion Energy.

As the fusion energy sector moves closer to becoming a reality, Carl Weggel's cutting-edge fusion energy generator design at venture-backed Kronos Fusion Energy is poised to revolutionize energy generation for the coming century, heralding a new era of clean, sustainable power that will shape the future of our planet.

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