Flow Z-Pinch Experiments

University of Washington

The Flow Z-Pinch is an innovative confinement concept to magnetically confine a high-temperature, high-density plasma. The Z-pinch has a simple, linear configuration with no applied magnetic fields. The self-field generated by the axial current confines and compresses the plasma. The concept was investigated extensively for fusion energy applications; however, the configuration is unstable to gross sausage and kink modes.

The Flow Z-Pinch Experiments include the original ZaP Flow Z-Pinch, ZaP-HD (High Energy Density), and FuZE (Fusion Z-Pinch Experiment).

The research project investigates the concept of using sheared axial flows to provide complete stability without adversely affecting the advantageous properties of the Z-pinch (no applied fields, high temperatures, high densities, unity average beta, and only perpendicular heat conduction). The experiment produces a Z-pinch plasma that is 100 cm long with a 1 cm radius. The plasma exhibits stability for an extended quiescent period. The experiment addresses the basic plasma science issue of the connection between sheared flows and plasma stability. In addition, the concept has applications for fusion energy and advanced space propulsion.

The laboratory is located in the basement of the AERB (Rm. 036). The experiment is funded by the Department of Energy (DOE), Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

The ZaP project is a certified green laboratory, and it has been awarded the 2016 UW Greenest Lab Award by the University of Washington Sustainability.