Plasma Dynamics in Firefly's Z-pinch Fusion Engine

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R. M. Freeland (2018), JBIS, 71, pp.288-293

Refcode: 2018.71.288
Keywords: Project Icarus, Fusion Propulsion, Z-Pinch Fusion, Firefly, Alpha Centauri

Project Icarus is a theoretical design study for an unmanned, fusion-based probe to Alpha Centauri using “current or near- future technology [1]” The project was started in 2009 and is now drafting its Final Report. The leading design to come out of the project is a vessel dubbed “Firefly”, built around a continuous, open-core Z-pinch fusion engine. This engine is based on experimental work by Uri Shumlak at the University of Washington [2] showing that a Z-pinch plasma can be stabilized via sufficient “shear” flow of plasma through the pinch. There are nevertheless some major differences between the Firefly drive and Shumlak’s test device, the implications of which are discussed herein.

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