An Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Power Source for Electric Propulsion
An Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Power Source
for Electric Propulsion
Rockford Technology Association, Inc.
912 West Armory
Champaign, IL 61821
Heinrich Hora (217-333-3772)
Experimental studies of a unique, inertial electrostatic
confinement (IEC) fusion concept will be conducted. The IEC
concept has the potential to generate a high power-to-weight ratio
power supply for electric propulsion during deep space missions.
Phase I will use existing equipment to carry out a proof-of-
principle experiment which, if successful, will define the design
basis for more rapid testing in Phase II. IEC involves the
injection of ions and electrons in a spherical configuration
arranged so that ions are trapped into a potential well, giving a
high fusion reaction rate in a small "core" region in the center.
The inertia of the injected ions combined with the internal
potential well provide the necessary confinement. Since magnets
and laser drivers are not involved, this system offers a much
higher specific power than conventional fusion approaches. The IEC
concept was originally addressed in the 1950s by Farnsworth, but
since then the concept has received little attention. The present
version relies on improved operation under special, pulsed, high-
current injection and preliminary experiments with lower currents
using this configuration have been quite encouraging. Since the
concept results in beam-beam reactions, it is ideally suited for
burning advanced fusion fuels like D-3He, which in turn, allows
for the use of direct conversion of the fusion energy to a high
voltage output, offering very efficient coupling to an advanced
electric propulsion unit.
Potential Commercial Application:
Potential Commercial Applications: The lightweight, high-power
IEC system will enable future deep space missions. Many commercial
applications may develop, especially spinoffs for terrestrial uses
which require a high-power density.