Next Big Future February 10, 2018
TAE Technologies, Inc. (formerly Tri Alpha Energy), the world’s largest and most advanced private fusion company, has announced that its proprietary beam-driven field-reversed configuration (FRC) plasma generator, “Norman,” surpassed a new technical milestone, bringing the company closer to the reality of commercial fusion power. This latest achievement marks a significant step in the company’s mission to create a global energy revolution with clean, safe, sustainable fusion energy.
Norman, the $100MM National Laboratory-scale device named for company founder Dr. Norman Rostoker, was unveiled in May 2017 and quickly reached first plasma in June 2017. After over 4,000 experiments to date, Norman has now exceeded the capabilities and performance of the company’s previous FRC plasma generator, C-2U, and sets a new company record for plasma temperature.
These efforts track with the company’s plans and scientific requirements for a successful fusion reaction, where plasma must be hot enough to enable forceful enough collisions to cause fusion, and sustain itself long enough to harness the power at will (coined the Hot Enough/Long Enough or HE/LE milestone). After over 100,000 experiments, TAE made breakthroughs in plasma confinement and stability, proving the “Long Enough” component in 2015. A year later, the company began building its fifth-generation device, the more powerful and sophisticated Norman, to further test plasma temperature increases in pursuit of “Hot Enough.” “This announcement is an important milestone on our quest to deliver worldchanging clean fusion energy to help combat climate change and improve the quality of life for people globally,” said company President and CTO, Michl Binderbauer. “This achievement further validates the robustness of TAE’s underlying science and unique pathway.”
Thanks to TAE’s previous insights from C-2U, and the company’s longstanding collaboration with Google to apply machine learning to advance plasma physics, Norman’s plasma was hotter from the outset.
There was an August 2017, status report to ARPA-E from TAE Technologies that has details of their plans and progress.
Summary – Essential Characteristics of TAE’s Fusion Approach
• Fusion envisioned as an applied product
• focus on end in mind
• accelerated learning with early risk retirement (inverse risk profile)
• Aneutronic fusion promises clean, sustainable and affordable power
• tiny radioactive footprint – comparable to nuclear medicine
• no atmospheric emissions
• worldwide abundant fuel for next tens of thousands of years
• Innovation – combines advanced accelerator and plasma physics
• breakthrough in stability and reduced loss rates
• enables compact and economic reactors
• Progress / what’s next
• C-2U plasma sustainment compelling foundation for “long enough” (Gen 5 reactor targets 30 milliseconds up from 10 milliseconds)
• 3 year C-2W project underway – towards “hot enough” (Gen 5 targets 10x the power)
• Begin to work on to commercialization plan w/ utilities and industrial partners