OVERVIEW OF C-2W: HIGH TEMPERATURE, STEADY-STATE BEAM-DRIVEN FIELD-REVERSED CONFIGURATION PLASMAS
TAE Technologies, Inc. (TAE) is pursuing an alternative approach to magnetically confined fusion, which relies on field-reversed configuration (FRC) plasmas composed of mostly energetic and well-confined particles by means of a state-of-the-art tunable energy neutral-beam (NB) injector system. TAE’s current experimental device, C-2W (also called “Norman”), is the world’s largest compact-toroid device and has made significant progress in FRC performance, producing record breaking, high temperature (electron temperature, Te >500 eV; total electron and ion temperature, Ttot >3 keV) advanced beam-driven FRC plasmas, dominated by injected fast particles and sustained in steady-state for up to 30 ms, which is limited by NB pulse duration. C-2W produces significantly better FRC performance than the preceding C-2U experiment, in part due to Google’s machine-learning framework for experimental optimization, which has contributed to the discovery of a new operational regime where novel settings for the formation sections yield consistently reproducible, hot, and stable plasmas. Active plasma control system has been developed and utilized in C-2W to produce consistent FRC performance as well as for reliable machine operations using magnets, electrodes, gas injection, and tunable NBs. The active control system has demonstrated a stabilization of FRC axial instability. Overall FRC performance is well correlated with NBs and edge-biasing system, where higher total plasma energy is obtained with increasing both NB injection power and applied-voltage on biasing electrodes. C-2W divertors have demonstrated a good electron heat confinement on open-field-lines using strong magnetic mirror fields as well as expanding the magnetic field in the divertors (expansion ratio >30); the electron energy lost per ion, ~6–8, is achieved, which is close to the ideal theoretical minimum.