There is increasing worldwide interest in fusion reactors as an energy source for electrical power generation. For such plants, which are projected for operation in the early decades of the 21st century, the choice of thermodynamic cycle for conversion of fusion reactor heat into electricity plays an important role in studies currently in the embryonic stage to evaluate performance, economics, safety, and operational features. A brief outline is given of some of the fusion reactor types currently under investigation. In this paper emphasis is placed on the utilization of a closed-cycle helium gas turbine power conversion system since its operational flexibility with regard to power and heat production and adaptability to economic dry cooling seem well suited to projected user energy needs of the future. The promise of an efficiency of over 50 percent (when operated in a binary cycle mode) makes the closed-cycle gas turbine an attractive power conversion system candidate as the goal of power production through a sustained fusion reaction in a confined plasma is realized. It is projected that the coupling of a closed-cycle gas turbine to a fusion reactor represents a challenging task for gas turbine engineers in the 21st century, and may be regarded as the ultimate application of the gas turbine prime-mover.

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