Location

Virtual

Start Date

5-10-2021 10:40 AM

End Date

5-10-2021 10:45 AM

Description

Direct Fusion Drive (DFD) is a theoretical configuration that uses a magnetically confined fusing plasma to provide thrust for a rocket. In the words of the original authors, Princeton Satellite Systems (PSS) and Razinet al., it is “...a compact, anuetronic fusion engine [which] will enable more challenging exploration missions in the solar system.” DFD is proposed as a theoretical alternative to chemical and ion propulsion rockets – as seen in Table 1, it has clear advantages over both in exhaust velocity (specific impulse) and mass ratio, and a large advantage over ion propulsion in thrust and thrust-to-weight ratio. Despite being far below chemical thrust, it also is designed to operate for the entirety of the journey thus allowing faster travel times to far bodies in the solar system—PSS claims that it would be able to travel to Jupiter in a year and Pluto in 4-5 years. PSS primarily considers a deuterium-helium-3 fusion reaction to power the plasma, however we aim to verify their operational parameters with that reaction as well as compare operational parameters for a proton-boron-11 fusion reaction. Motivation for this analysis is based on the scarcity of helium-3 compared to boron-11 as well as the lower percentage of output energy exiting in the form of neutrons in the proton-boron-11 reaction compared to deuterium-helium-3 ( < 0.1% vs. 0.7%). Challenges of using p-B11 include higher heating requirements (up to 10 times more) and lower output energy per fusion reaction.

Available for download on Tuesday, May 10, 2022

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May 10th, 10:40 AM May 10th, 10:45 AM

Comparing p-11B to D-3He Fusion for Direct Drive Fusion Rockets

Virtual

Direct Fusion Drive (DFD) is a theoretical configuration that uses a magnetically confined fusing plasma to provide thrust for a rocket. In the words of the original authors, Princeton Satellite Systems (PSS) and Razinet al., it is “...a compact, anuetronic fusion engine [which] will enable more challenging exploration missions in the solar system.” DFD is proposed as a theoretical alternative to chemical and ion propulsion rockets – as seen in Table 1, it has clear advantages over both in exhaust velocity (specific impulse) and mass ratio, and a large advantage over ion propulsion in thrust and thrust-to-weight ratio. Despite being far below chemical thrust, it also is designed to operate for the entirety of the journey thus allowing faster travel times to far bodies in the solar system—PSS claims that it would be able to travel to Jupiter in a year and Pluto in 4-5 years. PSS primarily considers a deuterium-helium-3 fusion reaction to power the plasma, however we aim to verify their operational parameters with that reaction as well as compare operational parameters for a proton-boron-11 fusion reaction. Motivation for this analysis is based on the scarcity of helium-3 compared to boron-11 as well as the lower percentage of output energy exiting in the form of neutrons in the proton-boron-11 reaction compared to deuterium-helium-3 ( < 0.1% vs. 0.7%). Challenges of using p-B11 include higher heating requirements (up to 10 times more) and lower output energy per fusion reaction.