Canada’s particle accelerator centre, TRIUMF and General Fusion have received a Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance grant to advance technology critical to measuring extreme temperatures inside a fusion machine. Funding of more than $800,000 over four years will support the design and delivery of an ultra-fast neutron spectrometer system. This will measure plasma temperatures at fusion conditions of over 100 million degrees Celsius, a key technical milestone that General Fusion aims to achieve at large scale by 2025.

In November 2023, TRIUMF and General Fusion signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) providing a framework for scientific and technical collaboration. General Fusion had previously announced plans to build a new Magnetised Target Fusion (MTF) machine, Lawson Machine 26 (LM26), at the company’s new Richmond headquarters. LM26 is designed to achieve fusion conditions of over 100m degrees Celsius by 2025, and to progress toward scientific breakeven by 2026.

The neutron spectrometer system is a flagship project under that MOU. TRIUMF will support General Fusion in developing a diagnostic system capable of precisely measuring neutron energies at a very high rate. Neutrons carry unique information about fusion reactions, and the system being built at TRIUMF and General Fusion will tag neutron interactions every nanosecond.

The spectrometer will debut on General Fusion’s LM26 fusion demonstration machine to measure ion temperature, a critical plasma parameter, at peak compression of a magnetized plasma. Following LM26 operations, the company expects to upgrade the system for its planned near-commercial machine. To further support this work over the next four years, TRIUMF and General Fusion have enlisted experts from Simon Fraser University to design and implement a dedicated neutron test facility. Additionally, at the Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec, new Canadian single photon detection technology is being further developed and fabricated for the upgraded system that will be installed on General Fusion’s near-commercial machine.

“This exciting project highlights the deep technology collaboration happening across the country to advance Canadian fusion energy technology,” said General Fusion CEO Greg Twinney. “Together with top labs and universities, we are building and testing world-leading systems required to deliver commercial fusion energy to the grid by the early to mid-2030s.”

Kathryn Hayashi CEO of TRIUMF Innovations, TRIUMF’s commercialisation arm said the project with General Fusion “uses our research and development work to fill a technology gap in high-rate neutron detection and provides potential for direct market outcomes in clean fusion energy, healthcare, and subatomic physics applications”.

Date: Friday, 29 March 2024
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