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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]

Organization

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]
Technology

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.
Confinement

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]
Compression

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]
Funding

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]
Criticism

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

References

"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.

vte

Fusion power, processes and devices
Core topics

Nuclear fusion
Timeline List of experiments Nuclear power Nuclear reactor Atomic nucleus Fusion energy gain factor Lawson criterion Magnetohydrodynamics Neutron Plasma

Processes,
methods
Confinement
type
Gravitational

Alpha process Triple-alpha process CNO cycle Fusor Helium flash Nova
remnants Proton-proton chain Carbon-burning Lithium burning Neon-burning Oxygen-burning Silicon-burning R-process S-process

Magnetic

Dense plasma focus Field-reversed configuration Levitated dipole Magnetic mirror
Bumpy torus Reversed field pinch Spheromak Stellarator Tokamak
Spherical Z-pinch

Inertial

Bubble (acoustic) Laser-driven Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion

Electrostatic

Fusor Polywell

Other forms

Colliding beam Magnetized target Migma Muon-catalyzed Pyroelectric

Devices, experiments
Magnetic confinement
Tokamak

International

ITER DEMO PROTO

Americas

Canada STOR-M United States Alcator C-Mod ARC
SPARC DIII-D Electric Tokamak LTX NSTX
PLT TFTR Pegasus Brazil ETE Mexico Novillo [es]

Asia,
Oceania

China CFETR EAST
HT-7 SUNIST India ADITYA SST-1 Japan JT-60 QUEST [ja] Pakistan GLAST South Korea KSTAR

Europe

European Union JET Czech Republic COMPASS GOLEM [cs] France TFR WEST Germany ASDEX Upgrade TEXTOR Italy FTU IGNITOR Portugal ISTTOK Russia T-15 Switzerland TCV United Kingdom MAST-U START STEP

Stellarator
Americas

United States CNT CTH HIDRA HSX Model C NCSX Costa Rica SCR-1

Asia,
Oceania

Australia H-1NF Japan Heliotron J LHD

Europe

Germany WEGA Wendelstein 7-AS Wendelstein 7-X Spain TJ-II Ukraine Uragan-2M
Uragan-3M [uk]

RFP

Italy RFX United States MST

Magnetized target

Canada SPECTOR United States LINUS FRX-L – FRCHX Fusion Engine

Other

Russia GDT United States Astron LDX Lockheed Martin CFR MFTF
TMX Perhapsatron PFRC Riggatron SSPX United Kingdom Sceptre Trisops ZETA

Inertial confinement
Laser
Americas

United States Argus Cyclops Janus LIFE Long path NIF Nike Nova OMEGA Shiva

Asia

Japan GEKKO XII

Europe

European Union HiPER Czech Republic Asterix IV (PALS) France LMJ LULI2000 Russia ISKRA United Kingdom Vulcan

Non-laser

United States PACER Z machine

Applications

Thermonuclear weapon
Pure fusion weapon

International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility ITER Neutral Beam Test Facility

Physics Encyclopedia

World

Index

Hellenica World - Scientific Library

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