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Sustained Neutron Production from a Sheared-Flow-Stabilized Z Pinch

Yue Zhang, University of Washington
Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 3:45pm
NPL 178

The Z-pinch is a type of plasma confinement system that uses an electrical current in the plasma to generate a magnetic field that compresses it. However, the realization of high-performance Z-pinch plasmas is severely limited by classical magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) instabilities. Recently the UW-LLNL collaborative project, FuZE (Fusion Z-pinch Experiment) has demonstrated that sheared plasma flows can be used as a stabilization mechanism to achieve and sustain fusion-relevant plasmas in Z-pinch configurations. The stabilization is effective even when the pinch current is sufficiently high to compress the plasma column to small radii (3 mm), producing increases in magnetic field (8.5 T), fusion-relevant plasma density (2e17 /cc) and electron temperature (1 keV). Sustained fusion neutrons are observed during an extended time period (up to 8 microseconds) from a 50-cm long stable Z-pinch plasma that is generated with a deuterium and hydrogen gas mixture. The neutron production is not associated with MHD instabilities, scales with the square of the deuterium concentration, and agrees with the thermonuclear yield calculated from the measured plasma parameters, all of which indicate consistency with a thermonuclear fusion process with no measurable beam-target component. This presentation will touch on the historical development of the sheared-flow-stabilized Z pinch at the University of Washington and discuss the experimental results in detail.

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