Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Jason Cassibry

Committee Member

Gabe Xu

Committee Member

Babak Shotorban

Committee Member

Sarma Rani

Committee Member

Mark Gilmore

Subject(s)

Inertial confinement fusion., Controlled fusion.

Abstract

Controlled nuclear fusion in a laboratory is a challenging problem. After more than half a century of research, no fusion reactor has been developed that is capable of generating more energy than what is required to operate the reactor. Creating accurate simulations of the fusion plasma conditions at peak compression is crucial to guide the development of future fusion experiments and ultimately determine what is necessary to create a viable fusion reactor. This dissertation presents an investigation into three-dimensional simulations of neutron and alpha particle yield of deuterium-tritium fusion. An overview of the physics of nuclear fusion presents the attractive features of the deuterium-tritium reaction. This is followed by an overview of fusion confinement methods, with magneto-inertial fusion shown to offer a wide parameter space. The exploration of this parameter space has led to many concepts, with one being plasma jet-driven magneto fusion (PJMIF), the focus of this dissertation. A power balance study and Lindl-Widner diagrams were constructed to determine what conditions are necessary to achieve breakeven in an unmagnetized and magnetized deuterium-tritium target. This analysis was then used to determine what conditions to simulate in the three-dimensional smooth particle hydrodynamic code SPFMax. Among the cases simulated in SPFMax were an unmagnetized target, a magnetized target, a target with a cold afterburner, and a target with predefined surface non-uniformities superimposed by spherical harmonics. The yield and gain are presented for each of these cases, with an examination of what factors enhance and degrade the yield. Finally, concluding remarks and suggestions for future areas of research are presented.

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