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Requirements for Low-Cost Electricity and Hydrogen Fuel Production from Multiunit Inertial Fusion Energy Plants with a Shared Driver and Target Factory

B. Grant Logan, Ralph W. Moir, Myron A. Hoffman

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 28 / Number 4 / November 1995 / Pages 1674-1696


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The economy of scale for multiunit inertial fusion energy (IFE) power plants is explored based on the molten salt HYLIFE-II fusion chamber concept, for the purpose of producing lower cost electricity and hydrogen fuel. The cost of electricity (CoE) is minimized with a new IFE systems code IFEFUEL5 for a matrix of plant cases with one to eight fusion chambers of 250 to 2000-MW(electric) net output each, sharing a common heavy-ion driver and target factory. Improvements to previous HYLIFE-II models include a recirculating induction linac driver optimized as a function of driver energy and rep-rate (average driver power), inclusion of beam switchyard costs, a fusion chamber cost scaling dependence on both thermal power and fusion yield, and a more accurate bypass pump power scaling with chamber rep-rate. A CoE less than 3 ¢/kW(electric)·h is found for plant outputs greater than 2 GW(electric), allowing hydrogen fuel production by water electrolysis to provide lower fuel cost per mile for higher efficiency hydrogen engines compared with gasoline engines. These multiunit, multi-GW(electric) IFE plants allow staged utility plant deployment, lower optimum chamber reprates, less sensitivity to driver and target fabrication costs, and a CoE possibly lower than future fission, fossil, and solar competitors.

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