The biggest two-stage light-gas gun in the UK

First Light commissioned Physics Applications Inc, a company that specialises in two-stage light-gas guns, to design the BFG on our specifications. The BFG was designed, built and commissioned in 10 months at a capital cost of £1.1m and it is the highest energy projectile launcher in the UK. It delivers a 38 mm metal-tipped projectile to our target vacuum chamber with a high degree of repeatability. This allows us to explore a complementary area of the parameter space to Machine 3 for our fusion research.

80 GPa

Impact pressure

10,000 bar

Hydrogen pressure accelerating the projectile

7 km/s

Maximum impact velocity

BFG Specifications

The BFG, commissioned in April 2021, uses gun powder to launch a plastic piston in the first stage. This piston compresses hydrogen gas to 10,000 times atmospheric pressure, which launches the second stage projectile. When the projectile enters a large, armoured vacuum chamber, it impacts our targets. Our diagnostics measure the impact at very-high time resolution.
  • Projectile size (dia x l) 38 x 39 mm
  • Projectile mass < 100 g
  • Max projectile velocity 7 km/s
  • Typical projectile velocity 6.5 km/s
  • Mass of gun powder 3 kg
  • Piston velocity 1 km/s
  • Projectile energy efficiency 13.3 %

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