Saturday, April 13, 2024


Helical Fusion Achieves Breakthrough in Fusion Energy with Advanced Superconductor Test


Japanese innovator, Helical Fusion, pioneers high-current-density superconductor technology, setting a new benchmark in fusion reactor development.

TOKYO, Feb. 26, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — In a significant advancement in the field of fusion energy, Helical Fusion Co. Ltd., based in Chuo-ku, Tokyo, has successfully conducted a critical test involving a 19kA current in its proprietary High-Temperature Superconductor (HTS) cable. This milestone experiment positions the company at the forefront of achieving a steady-state fusion reactor, establishing a new standard in the fusion energy domain.

A sample of the HTS cable demonstrating a necessary curved shape
A sample of the HTS cable demonstrating a necessary curved shape

The company’s state-of-the-art HTS cable, developed and manufactured in-house, has showcased superior superconductivity at cryogenic temperatures of -253°C (20 Kelvin) within a high magnetic field environment of 8 Tesla. Conducted at the esteemed National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS) in Toki City, Gifu Prefecture, this test highlights Helical Fusion’s cutting-edge expertise in HTS magnet technology. NIFS, known for its sophisticated conductor testing facilities, offered an optimal venue for this critical demonstration.

The HTS cable, crafted with 30 layers of REBCO (a top-tier HTS wire), constituted a durable conductor with a cross-section of approximately 3 cm and a length exceeding 4 meters. This configuration underwent testing nearly at the maximum capacity of the facility, 20 kA. Helical Fusion aims to significantly enhance this current capacity by integrating additional HTS wires, targeting a current density of over 100 amperes per square millimeter. Such high current density is vital for the development of fusion reactors to be both compact and efficient. The experiment also introduced an innovative HTS wire joint technique, facilitating the scalable production of these advanced conductors.

This development marks a significant stride in the pursuit of fusion energy, widely regarded as the ultimate clean energy solution, amidst current global fusion competition. Helical Fusion’s efforts have been substantially supported by a 2 billion yen grant from the Japanese government in October 2023, under the SBIR Phase 3 program, representing the most substantial per-company investment in the fusion sector. This backing propels the company’s advancements in HTS and fusion reactor development, with plans for additional tests on double-pancake coils in 2025 and helical coils subsequently.

The innovative conductor design, spearheaded by Dr. Junichi Miyazawa, Head of R&D at Helical Fusion, leverages NIFS’s extensive research in superconductor technology. Characterized by its high current density and narrow-wind-ability, this conductor holds promise for broad applications beyond fusion reactors.

In collaboration with industry leaders like Fujikura Ltd., Metal Technology Co., Ltd., and NIFS, Helical Fusion is driving innovation in superconductivity. The company is dedicated to leading the global initiative in developing advanced conductors, to showcase a world-class, economically viable fusion reactor in the foreseeable future.

About Helical Fusion Co., Ltd.

Helical Fusion, a pioneering Japanese startup, is dedicated to the practical application of fusion energy through magnetic confinement. Over the past six decades, numerous fusion techniques have emerged globally as potential next-generation energy sources. In Japan, significant advancements have been made in the heliotron method. This approach, which employs superconducting coils with a double-helical structure reminiscent of DNA, enables the stable confinement of high-temperature plasma. We aim to leverage these cutting-edge technologies to develop the world’s first steady-state fusion reactor.

Comment from Mr. Takaya TAGUCHI (CEO)

At the core of a fusion reactor’s electromagnets (coils)—the very heart of the system—lies HTS technology. This innovation is pivotal not only for enhancing the compactness and efficiency of commercial reactors but also for securing a leading position in the global fusion industry. Achieving a breakthrough in HTS technology ahead of international competitors marks a crucial step toward the commercialization of fusion reactors. It also positions Japan to take the lead in the fusion sector. This significant milestone in development was reached through the collaborative efforts of our partner companies and research institutions. We are committed to advancing this technology further, driving us closer to the commercialization of fusion energy.

About Fusion

In traditional nuclear power generation, energy is derived from a "fission reaction," where uranium or plutonium serves as the fuel. This process generates substantial amounts of radioactive waste, necessitating around 100,000 years of safe disposal measures. Moreover, the fission reaction, being a chain reaction, presents significant control challenges.

Contrastingly, "fusion reactions" harness isotopes of hydrogen, such as deuterium and tritium, to produce energy. This method results in the creation of low-level radioactive waste, which has a much shorter half-life, reverting to non-hazardous materials within approximately 100 years. Achieving the requisite plasma temperature, density, and confinement time for a nuclear fusion reaction is immensely challenging. However, should any of these conditions not be met, the reaction ceases spontaneously, thereby eliminating the risk of a runaway chain reaction.

Contact: [email protected]

Test facility Installation of the HTS Cable into testing apparatus
Test facility Installation of the HTS Cable into testing apparatus

Production of the HTS cable within a ~3cm x 3cm containment
Production of the HTS cable within a ~3cm x 3cm containment

Conduction verification test setup of the HTS cable
Conduction verification test setup of the HTS cable

Source : Helical Fusion Achieves Breakthrough in Fusion Energy with Advanced Superconductor Test

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