Honors College Thesis


Modeling the Fusion Reaction in an Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Reactor with the Particle-in-Cell Method Public Deposited

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  • Nuclear fusion has the potential to meet the energy needs of our civilization for centuries to come and does not produce harmful greenhouse gasses or produce long-lasting radioactive waste. A fusion reaction can be readily demonstrated in a confinement scheme known as inertial electrostatic confinement (IEC) fusion. In this work, an IEC device is proposed that can perform a study of how the fusion rate in an IEC depends on cathode voltage. A 2D simulation code is written in python to model the device and predict the fusion response to grid voltage at low and high voltages. The simulation is based on the particle-in-cell (PIC) method for modeling plasmas. The fusion reaction was modeled in the simulation by applying the 5-parameter-fitting method for nuclear fusion cross sections. A formula for the probability of a fusion reaction occurring per simulated particle path length is proposed based on physical and numerical parameters. The simulation demonstrates that as the cathode grid voltage is increased, the fusion rate occurring in the device increases in the same manner as key IEC experiments. The seldom-studied start-up behavior of the IEC was resolved in the simulation implemented here and presented for different cathode voltages.
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  • Funded by the Oregon Space Grant Consortium NASA Undergraduate Research Fellowship
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