The National Ignition Facility and the Path to Fusion Energy

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The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is operational and conducting experiments at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The NIF is the world's largest and most energetic laser experimental facility with 192 beams capable of delivering 1.8 megajoules of 500-terawatt ultraviolet laser energy, over 60 times more energy than any previous laser system. The NIF can create temperatures of more than 100 million degrees and pressures more than 100 billion times Earth's atmospheric pressure. These conditions, similar to those at the center of the sun, have never been created in the laboratory and will allow scientists to probe the physics of ... continued below

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Moses, E July 26, 2011.

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The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is operational and conducting experiments at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The NIF is the world's largest and most energetic laser experimental facility with 192 beams capable of delivering 1.8 megajoules of 500-terawatt ultraviolet laser energy, over 60 times more energy than any previous laser system. The NIF can create temperatures of more than 100 million degrees and pressures more than 100 billion times Earth's atmospheric pressure. These conditions, similar to those at the center of the sun, have never been created in the laboratory and will allow scientists to probe the physics of planetary interiors, supernovae, black holes, and other phenomena. The NIF's laser beams are designed to compress fusion targets to the conditions required for thermonuclear burn, liberating more energy than is required to initiate the fusion reactions. Experiments on the NIF are focusing on demonstrating fusion ignition and burn via inertial confinement fusion (ICF). The ignition program is conducted via the National Ignition Campaign (NIC) - a partnership among LLNL, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics, and General Atomics. The NIC program has also established collaborations with the Atomic Weapons Establishment in the United Kingdom, Commissariat a Energie Atomique in France, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and many others. Ignition experiments have begun that form the basis of the overall NIF strategy for achieving ignition. Accomplishing this goal will demonstrate the feasibility of fusion as a source of limitless, clean energy for the future. This paper discusses the current status of the NIC, the experimental steps needed toward achieving ignition and the steps required to demonstrate and enable the delivery of fusion energy as a viable carbon-free energy source.

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PDF-file: 8 pages; size: 0.7 Mbytes

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  • Presented at: 8th IAEA Conference, San Francisco, CA, United States, Jun 20 - Jun 24, 2011

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  • Report No.: LLNL-CONF-491591
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1022935
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc830484

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  • July 26, 2011

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Dec. 6, 2016, 1:48 p.m.

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Moses, E. The National Ignition Facility and the Path to Fusion Energy, article, July 26, 2011; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc830484/: accessed August 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.