ZaP Flow Z-Pinch Experiment
The ZaP Flow Z-Pinch Experiment is an innovative confinement concept to magnetically confine a high-temperature, high-density plasma. The Z-pinch has a simple, linear configuration with no magnetic field coils. The axial plasma current generates an azimuthal magnetic field that confines and compresses the plasma. The concept was investigated in the formative years of fusion energy development. Plasma instabilities - sausage and kink modes - limited the achievable parameters and hindered progress of the Z-pinch concept. However, more recent theoretical investigations have presented a mechanism to stabilize Z-pinch plasmas using sheared flow that extrapolates to high performance.
The ZaP project investigates the concept of using sheared axial flows to provide complete stability without adversely affecting the advantageous properties of the Z-pinch (no applied fields, high temperatures, high densities, unity average beta, and only perpendicular heat conduction). The ZaP and ZaP-HD experiments produce Z-pinch plasmas that are 50 - 130 cm long with 0.5 - 1.5 cm radii. The plasma exhibits stability for an extended quiescent period. The experiment addresses some basic plasma science issues, primarily the connection between sheared plasma flows and stability. The sheared flow stabilized (SFS) Z-pinch concept has applications for fusion energy, advanced space propulsion, laboratory astrophysics, extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, and high energy density physics (HEDP).
The project has been funded by the Department of Energy (DOE), National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and the Boeing Company.
Aeronautics & Astronautics