Tri-alpha Energy has been operating since 1998. They are the largest privately funded nuclear fusion project with over $140 million raised plus even more new funding from Rusnano (multi-billion dollar Russian fund).
Their goal is aneutronic fusion utilising boron-11 and protons from hydrogen nuclei to cause fusion to carbon-12 and breaking up to produce three helium-4 nuclei – the three (tri) alpha particles. – produces little to no neutrons and therefore little to no significant radioactive products.
The 11B (p,α)αα reaction at low energies is dominated by the 2-T=1 resonance at 675 keV which has a width of 300 keV (Γp = 150 keV, Γ α1 = 150 keV).
The Q-value of the reaction is 8.58 MeV (Ein (cm)x 14).
They will use a direct energy conversion system using an Inverse Cyclotron Converter (ICC). D’s are replaced by four semi-cylindrical electrodes. Energy is removed from the alphas as they spiral past the electrodes connected to a resonant circuit.
In 2012, the design of a 100 MW reactor is underway. Test “shots” to demonstrate plasma confinement are in progress.
They discovered TWO high energy α-particles in their reaction. It is having a huge impact on the reactor design.
They are much easier to extract and convert more efficiently into electricity.
Results were published in Physics Letters B 696 (2011) 26-29 and The Journal of Fusion Energy (Springerlink.com), M.C. Spraker et al., 2011