NIAC Phase I Grant: Gradient Field Imploding Liner Fusion Propulsion System

Gradient Field Imploding Liner Fusion Propulsion System. (Credit: Michael LaPointe)

Gradient Field Imploding Liner Fusion Propulsion System

Michael LaPointe
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Huntsville, Ala.

Value: Approximately $125,000
Length of Study: 9 months

An innovative modification to magneto-inertial fusion is proposed in which the pulsed, high current magnetic field coil and stationary central fuel target are replaced with a fast moving fusion fuel target fired axially into a static, high gradient magnetic field. As the target passes through the magnetic field gradient it effectively experiences a rapidly changing axial magnetic field, which induces strong azimuthal currents in the target liner to implode the fuel and reach fusion conditions.Among other advantages, eliminating the need to pulse the magnetic field coil allows the use of energy efficient superconducting coils in a geometry that more naturally lends itself to in-space propulsion.

If successful, the proposed concept will substantially reduce Mars trip times and enable a robust architecture for human solar system exploration.

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  • Brainbit

    Two questions what sort of fuel is used ? and what is the expected electrical power requirement ?

  • JamesG

    H3 of course.

  • Jacob Samorodin

    Forty years ago we were ‘promised’ cheap fusion energy. I guess another 40 year wait. Any of you planning to live in the year 2057?

  • redneck

    I plan to live forever or die trying.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Fuel? Nothing easy to get.
    Electrical input? Immense.

    If any of these small cheap fusion schemes come thru at our technology level, I’m going to start giving more credence to UFO reports. I don’t think the universe is so friendly to give folks at our level of technology a easy path a fusion. Besides bombs that is. Watch developments in 4th gen nuclear weapons that don’t have a fission primary. It’s a very similar problem. Don’t think governments won’t fund low kiloton nukes with almost no radioactive fallout. If 4th gen nukes are made to work, these small fusion reactors can be made to work, and visa versa. The ‘Focus Fusion” folks made a lot of fast progress but seem to have hit a wall. Give it another 100 odd years of hitting walls and we’ll inch our way there. The problem probably requires something like ITER. Let’s hope, it’s not just another path to find the next problem the way tokamak’s showed us how stray eddy currents in the plasma E field will weaken the confinement B field and prevent ignition.

  • Hug Doug

    Fusion power is way more complicated than it seemed. We have learned a LOT about the behavior of plasma over the past 40 years. It’s very difficult to control.