Enhancement of Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) Fusion Through High Frequency Electromagnetic Fields


While the search for a practical fusion energy source has been pursued for decades, ultimate success remains elusive, and the need is apparent for continued research into alternative experimental fusion techniques. A method that has received fair attention over the past few years is Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) fusion, a system in which a convergent ion focus is obtained solely through electrostatic fields. During device operation where the electrostatic field is supported by very high voltages (over 20,000V), the resulting ion focus sustains a dense plasma capable of generating a high rate of fusion reactions and neutron production. However, present limited theoretical knowledge and engineering issues prevent the capacity ofIEC systems to produce net power. Rather, intermediate applications center on using the device as a portable neutron source.

The work performed here involves an IEC device using spherical geometry, and includes the introduction of a new variable, the addition of high frequency electromagnetic (EM) fields into its operation. The goal is to predict theoretically, observe and explain any beneficial compressive effects of added microwave EM fields on the potential fusion reaction rate in an experimental reactor. An optical determination of the enhancement is performed while using lower voltages under 1 000V, and is based on the relative intensity of the confined plasma during glow discharge operation. It is hypothesized that imposing EM fields will enhance the potential fusion reaction rate conservatively by a factor of two. Presently, IEC systems operate just under neutron production levels needed for practical applications such as landmine detection and medical isotope production, and any enhancement from EM fields should prove highly beneficial.


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Thesis Completion





Johnson, Roger


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science

Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering; Engineering -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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