Fusion Parameter Space

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The quest for fusion can be broken down into divisions based on experimental approach (Magnetic, Inertial, Alternatives) and on fuel (conventional and aneutronic/advanced).  These divisions can be grounded in, and mapped along the fundamental parameter space of fusion.

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Magnetic Fusion Energy (MFE)

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Magnetic fusion involves confining plasma in a magnetic field cage. The dilute plasmas (less dense than Inertial Fusion) are heated by various means such as radio waves, energetic particle beams or fusion self/heating. Different MFE approaches involve different ways of producing the magnetic field cage (e.g., compare stellarators with tokamaks.) ITER is a MFE project.


Inertial Fusion Energy (IFE)

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Inertial fusion approaches seek to quickly implode a tiny target of plasma so that the inertia of the converging particles causes many of them to fuse before they can get away. Density requirements are much higher than for Magnetic Fusion, but confinement time is lower. Pictured at right is the “hohlram” target area with incoming lasers about to fry the plasma into fusion.


The Alternatives

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The term “Alternatives” is a catch all for a wide variety of lesser known fusion approaches.  Some alternatives can be classified as “Magnetic Fusion” and others as “Inertial Fusion.” Still others are hybrids and fall somewhere else along the parameter space of fusion.


Aneutronic Fusion

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Aneutronic fusion is fusion that does not produce neutrons as a product of the reaction.  It is also called “advanced fuel fusion.”



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ITER Milestones, Big Science and Audit Triple Play

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Fusion Parameter Space

There are many ways to achieve fusion. These can be broken down into divisions based on experimental approach (Magnetic, Inertial, Alternatives) and on fuel (conventional and advanced). Much more remains to be explored in the parameter space of fusion.
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