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Helion Energy, Inc. is an American company in Redmond, Washington developing a magneto-inertial fusion power technology named The Fusion Engine.[1] Their approach combines the stability of magnetic containment and once-per-second heating pulsed inertial fusion.[2] They are developing a 50 Megawatt (MW) scale system.[3][4]


Helion Energy was founded in 2013 by Dr. David Kirtley, Dr. John Slough, Chris Pihl, and Dr. George Votroubek.[5][6] Investors in Helion include Y Combinator, Mithril Capital Management, and Capricorn Investment Group.[7][8] The management team won the 2013 National Cleantech Open Energy Generation competition and awards at the 2014 ARPA-E Future Energy Startup competition,[2] were members of the 2014 Y Combinator program,[9] and were awarded a 2015 ARPA-E ALPHA contract, "Staged Magnetic Compression of FRC Targets to Fusion Conditions".[10]

The Fusion Engine technology is based on the Inductive Plasmoid Accelerator (IPA) experiments[11][12] performed from 2005 through 2012. This system theoretically operates at 1 Hz, injecting plasma, compressing it to fusion conditions, expanding it, and directly recovering the energy to produce electricity.[13] The IPA experiments claimed 300 km/s velocities, deuterium neutron production, and 2 keV deuterium ion temperatures.[12]
Helium-3 fuel

Helion intends to produce and use a fuel which combines deuterium and helium-3. This mix allows mostly aneutronic fusion, releasing only 5% of its energy in the form of neutrons. The helium is captured and reused, eliminating supply concerns.[2]

The IPA experiments used deuterium-deuterium fusion, which produces a 2.4 MeV neutron per reaction. Helion and MSNW published articles describing a deuterium-tritium implementation which is the easiest to achieve but generate 14 MeV neutrons. Helion has patented[14] using pulsed deuterium-deuterium fusion to produce Helium-3 for use in fusion reactors and medical imaging.

This fusion approach uses the magnetic field of a field-reversed configuration (FRC) plasmoid (operated with solid state electronics derived from power switching electronics in wind turbines) to prevent plasma energy losses. An FRC is a magnetized plasma configuration notable for its closed field lines, high Beta and lack of internal penetrations.[2]

To inject the target plasmoid into the fusion compression chamber two plasmoids are accelerated at high velocity with pulsed magnetic fields and merge into a single target plasmoid at high pressure.[2] Their 2018 experiments achieved plasmas with multi-keV temperatures.[15] Published records show plans to compress fusion plasmas to 12 Tesla.[16]
Energy generation

Energy is captured by direct energy conversion that translates high-energy alpha particles directly into a voltage. This eliminates the need for steam turbines and cooling towers (and the associated energy losses).[2]

Helion Energy received $7 million in funding from NASA, the United States Department of Energy and the Department of Defense,[17] followed by $1.5 million from the private sector in August 2014, through the seed accelerators Y Combinator and Mithril Capital Management.[18] The company raised a further $10.6 million in July, 2015.
Revenue model

Helion Energy’s strategy is to generate revenue based on a royalty model of electricity produced with projected electricity prices of 40–60 $/MWhr (4 to 6 cents per kwh). Penetration of the new capacity market is estimated at 20% of market growth (2.5%) per annum eventually reaching 50% of new power generation worldwide – $52 B/yr. Gradual displacement of existing supplies enables continued growth to 20% of world electrical generation after 20 years with a net return of over $300 billion.[2]

Retired Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory researcher Dr. Daniel Jassby mentioned Helion Energy in a letter included in the American Physical Society newsletter Physics & Society (April, 2019) as being among fusion start-ups allegedly practicing "voodoo fusion" rather than legitimate science, and among other criticisms claimed that Helion Energy had never created D-D fusion neutrons in their experiments.[19] However, the Helion team published peer-reviewed research into its colliding FRC system demonstrating D-D neutron production as early as 2011,[12] and further detailed D-D fusion experiments producing neutrons in an October 2018 report at the United States Department of Energy's ARPA-E's annual ALPHA program meeting.[20]
See also

China Fusion Engineering Test Reactor
DEMOnstration Power Station
Fusion Industry Association
General Fusion
Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production


"Helion Energy". Helion Energy.
"Next Big Future: Helion Energy raised $10.9 million and has filed to raise $21 million which would be enough to build a breakeven scale fusion machine in 2016-2017". nextbigfuture.com. Retrieved 2015-08-21.
"Helion Executive Summary" (PDF).
"Cleantech Open Announcement 2013".
"Helion Energy". Helion Energy.
"crunchbase.com Helion Energy website".
"techcrunch.com - Helion Energy".
"Helion Energy". Inverse.
"Summer 2014 Companies (YC S14)". Y Combinator Universe. 2010-07-21.
"Compression of FRC Targets for Fusion". ARPA-E. 2015-09-30.
Votroubek, G.; Slough, J.; Andreason, S.; Pihl, C. (June 2008). "Formation of a Stable Field Reversed Configuration through Merging". Journal of Fusion Energy. 27 (1–2): 123–127. doi:10.1007/s10894-007-9103-4.
Slough, John; Votroubek, George; Pihl, Chris (13 April 2011). "Creation of a high-temperature plasma through merging and compression of supersonic field reversed configuration plasmoids". Nuclear Fusion. 51 (5): 053008. Bibcode:2011NucFu..51e3008S. doi:10.1088/0029-5515/51/5/053008.
Svoboda, Elizabeth (21 June 2011). "Is Fusion Power Finally For Real?". Popular Mechanics.
"WO2015163970A2 – Advanced fuel cycle and fusion reactors using the same". Google Patents. 2015-02-06.
Kirtley, David; Milroy, Richard; Votroubek, George; Slough, John; McKee, Erik; Shimazu, Aki; Hine, Andrew; Barnes, Daniel (2018-11-05). "Overview of Staged Magnetic Compression of FRC targets". Bulletin of the American Physical Society. 2018: BM9.005. Bibcode:2018APS..DPPBM9005K.
Wang, Brian (2018-10-02). "Helion Energy got funding for possible breakeven fusion device this year". NextBigFuture.com.
Halper, Mark (30 April 2013). "The nearness of fusion: The materials and coolant challenges facing one fusion company mirror fission". The Alvin Weinberg Foundation.
Russell, Kyle (14 August 2014). "Y Combinator And Mithril Invest In Helion, A Nuclear Fusion Startup". TechCrunch.
Jassby, Daniel L. (April 2019). "Voodoo Fusion Energy". APS.org. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
"Staged Magnetic Compression of FRC Targets" (PDF). ARPA-E. October 2018.


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