The National Ignition Facility and the Promise of Inertial Fusion Energy

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The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, CA, is now operational. The NIF is the world's most energetic laser system capable of producing 1.8 MJ and 500 TW of ultraviolet light. By concentrating the energy from its 192 extremely energetic laser beams into a mm{sup 3}-sized target, NIF can produce temperatures above 100 million K, densities of 1,000 g/cm{sup 3}, and pressures 100 billion times atmospheric pressure - conditions that have never been created in a laboratory and emulate those in planetary interiors and stellar environments. On September 29, 2010, the first integrated ... continued below

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Moses, E I December 13, 2010.

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The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, CA, is now operational. The NIF is the world's most energetic laser system capable of producing 1.8 MJ and 500 TW of ultraviolet light. By concentrating the energy from its 192 extremely energetic laser beams into a mm{sup 3}-sized target, NIF can produce temperatures above 100 million K, densities of 1,000 g/cm{sup 3}, and pressures 100 billion times atmospheric pressure - conditions that have never been created in a laboratory and emulate those in planetary interiors and stellar environments. On September 29, 2010, the first integrated ignition experiment was conducted, demonstrating the successful coordination of the laser, cryogenic target system, array of diagnostics and infrastructure required for ignition demonstration. In light of this strong progress, the U.S. and international communities are examining the implication of NIF ignition for inertial fusion energy (IFE). A laser-based IFE power plant will require a repetition rate of 10-20 Hz and a laser with 10% electrical-optical efficiency, as well as further development and advances in large-scale target fabrication, target injection, and other supporting technologies. These capabilities could lead to a prototype IFE demonstration plant in the 10- to 15-year time frame. LLNL, in partnership with other institutions, is developing a Laser Inertial Fusion Engine (LIFE) concept and examining in detail various technology choices, as well as the advantages of both pure fusion and fusion-fission schemes. This paper will describe the unprecedented experimental capabilities of the NIF and the results achieved so far on the path toward ignition. The paper will conclude with a discussion about the need to build on the progress on NIF to develop an implementable and effective plan to achieve the promise of LIFE as a source of carbon-free energy.

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  • Presented at: 19th Topical Meeting on the Technology of Fusion Energy, Las Vegas, NV, United States, Nov 07 - Nov 11, 2010

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  • Report No.: LLNL-CONF-464130
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1018804
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc840343

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  • December 13, 2010

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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 I. The National Ignition Facility and the Promise of Inertial Fusion Energy, article, December 13, 2010; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc840343/: accessed August 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.