MiniRailguns for Fusion and HEDP
Award last edited on: 12/20/2013

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code

Principal Investigator
Franklin Douglas Witherspoon

Company Information

HyperV Technologies Corporation

13935 Willard Road
Chantilly, VA 20151
   (703) 378-4882
Location: Single
Congr. District: 10
County: Fairfax

Phase I

Contract Number: ----------
Start Date: ----    Completed: ----
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
The study of the merging and implosion of plasma jets can be used to enhance the understanding of the physics behind the generation of fu­sion energy using Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF). In addition, the study of merging plasma jets can provide insight into basic physical processes of astrophysical interest. This project involves the further development of the Mini-Railgun technology and the construction of a circular array of Mini-Railguns that will ?re toward a common center point. The hot, dense plasma core generated by the merging jets will be analyzed using an extensive suite of plasma diagnostics. Data from the tests will be compared to computer simulations, providing a check on the validity of the simulation code.

Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee:
The technologies needed to create merging plasma jets have applications in fusion science, pulsed power, materials science, defense, and space propulsion

Phase II

Contract Number: ----------
Start Date: ----    Completed: ----
Phase II year
Phase II Amount
Magneto-inertial fusion and high-energy-density plasmas represent a promis­ing approach to the generation of fusion energy. In this area of fusion research, the ability to compress a magnetized target plasma, without the need to replace a solid driver, is crucial to further development. Mini-railgun plasma accelerators with low operating costs and high repetition rates are a possible approach to meeting this requirement. Therefore, this project will develop mini-railgun plasma accelerators that can produce high density plasma jets at high velocity. In Phase I, a series of prototype accelerators were designed, fabricated, and tested. When four mini-railguns were used in a symmetric plane geometry, the resulting convergence density was a factor of 20 larger than the density of a single jet. Small railguns (1 cm bore) achieved nearly 200 micrograms of plasma at 80 km/s with high energy density. In Phase II, the mini-railgun accelerators will be further developed, pushing their performance to above 1000 micrograms of plasma at greater than 50 km/s, while maintaining the high density. A fully three-dimensional jet merging and implosion test will be performed at modest energy using 20-26 mini-railguns. These tests will be used to validate hardware and techniques for a much larger planned experiment.

Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee:
Mini-railgun plasma accelerators will be useful for commercial fusion power, refueling magneti­cally confined plasmas, high specific impulse thrusters for space propulsion, laboratory simulation of astrophysical jets, fast pulsed power switching, materials processing, and high-energy-density plasma research