The Princeton Field-Reversed Configuration for Compact Nuclear Fusion Power Plants

Christopher Galea, Stephanie Thomas, Michael Paluszek, Samuel Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The Princeton Field-Reversed Configuration (PFRC) nuclear fusion reactor concept is an innovative approach to fusion power generation prioritizing low neutron production and small size. A combination of analytical modeling and numerical simulation shows that the novel heating approach generates an FRC with closed field lines. Simulation data from a single-particle Hamiltonian code predicts ms-scale plasma heating in reactor-scale conditions while PIC codes predict formation of warm FRC plasmas from initial mirror fields. The PFRC-1 and PFRC-2 experiments have heated electrons to energies well in excess of 100 eV and plasma durations to 300 ms, more than 104 times longer than the predicted tilt instability growth time. From these data, we have created a development plan and anticipated performance metrics for a fusion reactor based on the PFRC concept. The resulting 1–10 MW PFRC reactors would be suitable for diverse applications, from submarines to urban environments to space propulsion. PFRC is a steady-state, driven magnetic confinement device. Plasma, inside a cylindrical array of coils, is confined and heated by external RF antennae. PFRC would be ultra-low radiation due to both its fuel and small size. The choice of advanced fuels, deuterium and helium-3 (D–3He), may be enabled by the high-β FRC configuration. The small size of the reactor would enable rapid exhaust of the dangerous tritium ash. Low radiation would make the reactor safer to operate and, in combination with simple geometry and small size, dramatically lowers development and maintenance costs. This review paper gives an introduction to the physics of the PFRC and a summary of the PFRC-2 experiment results to date. It then discusses the future program plan and how PFRC reactors would be commercialized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
JournalJournal of Fusion Energy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


  • Field-reversed configuration
  • Magnetic confinement fusion
  • Modular power
  • Nuclear fusion
  • Space propulsion


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