Lowering the reactor breakeven requirements for proton-boron 11 fusion

Ian E. Ochs, Nathaniel J. Fisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recently, it has been shown that altering the natural collisional power flow of the proton-boron 11 (pB11) fusion reaction can significantly reduce the Lawson product of ion density and confinement time required to achieve ignition. However, these products are still onerous—on the order of 7 × 10 15 cm−3 s under the most optimistic scenarios. Fortunately, a breakeven fusion power plant does not require an igniting plasma, but rather a reactor that produces more electrical power than it consumes. Here, we extend the existing 0D power balance analysis to check the conditions on power plant breakeven. We find that even for the base thermonuclear reaction, modern high-efficiency thermal engines should reduce the Lawson product to 1.2 × 10 15 cm−3 s. We then explore the impact of several potential improvements, including fast proton heating, alpha power capture, direct conversion, and efficient heating. We find that such improvements could reduce the required Lawson product by a further order of magnitude, bringing aneutronic fusion to target ITER ion densities and confinement times.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number012503
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics

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