Helion Energy became the first private company to achieve 100 million degrees Celsius in its fusion reactor.
Helion claims its sixth fusion generator prototype the Trenta heated plasma to temperatures over 100 million degrees Celsius, a press release indicates. They need such high temperatures to create a fusion reaction.
The Trenta creates plasma by heating deuterium and helium-3 fuel. Helion uses magnets to contain the plasma in a Field Reversed Configuration.
There is no evidence that Helion has achieved fusion. Instead, the company has reached an important milestone on the road to fusion.
Extracting Electricity Directly from fusion
Helion claims that its Plasma Accelerator heats fuel to 100 million degrees Celsius then extracts electricity directly through a “high-efficiency pulsed approach.”
Helion’s website claims expanding plasma pushes back on the magnetic field inducing current. The Plasma Accelerator recaptures the current as electricity using Faraday’s Law of Induction.
Hence, the Plasma Accelerator uses magnetic induction to generate electricity. Thus, a good way to think of the Plasma Accelerator is as a fusion reactor that doubles as an electric generator. Induction is a proven scientific principle that makes electric generators, motors, and transformers possible.
I do not know how the Plasma Accelerator achieves this miracle. However, my suspicion is that Helion’s scientists have not perfected process. Instead, they have a theory that might work.
If these claims are true, Helion could make fusion far easier to adopt. Most fusion reactor proposals call for a system that will use fusion to generate enormous amounts of heat. Operators use the heat to make steam to power a steam turbine. The steam turbine will generate the electricity.
A theoretical advantage to Helion’s Plasma Accelerator is that it could take up less space. Hence, you could use the Plasma Accelerator to power ships or as a power source for buildings.
Helion Fusion Technology
Redmond, Washington, based Helion Energy holds several energy patents. Those patents include:
- Helion Fusion Technology
- An Advanced D-3He (deuterium and helium-3) fuel cycle for a pulsed fusion reactor.
- Apparatus, systems, and methods for fusion-based power generation and engine thrust generation.
- Apparatus and methods for generating a pulsating high-strength magnetic field.
- Cartridge interconnect
- Circuits for high beta energy harvesting/recovery.
- High-speed switching apparatus for inductivity coupled coils.
- Inertially-damped segmented coils for generating high magnetic fields.
- Hybrid gettering diffusion pump
- Method and apparatus for the generation, heating and/or compression of plasmoids and/or recovery of energy therefrom.
- Monolithic high-field magnets.
Helion is definitely a fusion company to watch. However, I am skeptical of its claims.