Ignition — the process of releasing fusion energy equal to or greater than the amount of energy used to confine the fuel — has long been considered the “holy grail” of inertial confinement fusion science.
A key step along the path to ignition is to have “fuel gains” greater than unity, where the energy generated through fusion reactions exceeds the amount of energy deposited into the fusion fuel.
Though ignition remains the ultimate goal, the milestone of achieving fuel gains greater than 1 has been reached for the first time ever on any facility. In a paper published in the Feb. 12 online issue of the journal Nature, scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) detail a series of experiments on the National Ignition Facility (NIF), which show an order of magnitude improvement in yield performance over past experiments.
“What’s really exciting is that we are seeing a steadily increasing contribution to the yield coming from the boot-strapping process we call alpha-particle self-heating as we push the implosion a little harder each time,” said lead author Omar Hurricane.
Boot-strapping results when alpha particles, helium nuclei produced in the deuterium-tritium (DT) fusion process, deposit their energy in the DT fuel, rather than escaping. The alpha particles further heat the fuel, increasing the rate of fusion reactions, thus producing more alpha particles. This feedback process is the mechanism that leads to ignition. As reported in Nature, the boot-strapping process has been demonstrated in a series of experiments in which the fusion yield has been systematically increased by more than a factor of 10 over previous approaches.
The experimental series was carefully designed to avoid breakup of the plastic shell that surrounds and confines the DT fuel as it is compressed. It was hypothesized that the breakup was the source of degraded fusion yields observed in previous experiments. By modifying the laser pulse used to compress the fuel, the instability that causes break-up was suppressed. The higher yields that were obtained affirmed the hypothesis, and demonstrated the onset of boot-strapping.
The experimental results have matched computer simulations much better than previous experiments, providing an important benchmark for the models used to predict the behavior of matter under conditions similar to those generated during a nuclear explosion, a primary goal for the NIF.
The Latest on: Nuclear Fusion
via Google News
The Latest on: Nuclear Fusion
- Fusion Fuel Holds The Promise Of Limitless Clean Energy To Power The Planet: Dr Vivek Lall, Chief Executive, General Atomics Global Corporationon April 11, 2021 at 3:16 am
Recently, General Atomic developed a compact nuclear reactor--more accurately called compact fusion pilot plant. How much is this a breakthrough in fusion Energy science? Vivek Lall: For more than 60 ...
- Russia's Tsar Bomb Was Massive (As In a Massive Nuclear Dud)on April 10, 2021 at 3:40 pm
It's hard to deploy a doomsday bomb when it's literally too big to carry. Here's What You Need To Remember: Some toys are best left in their boxes. On July 10, 1961 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev ...
- The World Is One Step Closer To Commercial Nuclear Fusionon April 10, 2021 at 12:00 pm
As the world races to create the first commercial fusion reactor, one project has just crossed a major milestone which could be a game-changer for the industry ...
- Nuclear fusion milestone sees TAE Technologies raise $280mon April 9, 2021 at 1:12 am
Californian company TAE Technologies is confident that it can deliver a commercial nuclear fusion plant by 2030.
- This Nuclear Reactor Just Made Fusion Viable by 2030. Seriously.on April 8, 2021 at 12:01 pm
The challenges of plasma fusion are mostly in containment. TAE uses a particle accelerator beam to superheat plasma. TAE Technologies, the world’s largest private fusion company, has announced it will ...
- Claiming a landmark in fusion energy, TAE Technologies sees commercialization by 2030on April 8, 2021 at 12:00 pm
In a small industrial park located nearly halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, one company is claiming to have hit a milestone in the development of a new technology for generating power from ...
- Nuclear-Fusion Firm Hits Funding Record With Plasma Breakthroughon April 8, 2021 at 12:00 pm
TAE Technologies Inc., a developer of nuclear fusion technology, raised $280 million to build a demonstration system after the company was able to produce superheated plasma at 50 million degrees ...
- Encouraging Women to Follow Careers in Fusion Science and Technology: IAEA Webinaron April 8, 2021 at 10:49 am
Women scientists working on nuclear fusion will be the focus of an IAEA event on 14 April 2021, as part of a series of webinars to encourage young women to pursue careers in nuclear sciences and ...
- The Direct Fusion Drive That Could Get Us Past Neptune in 10 Yearson April 7, 2021 at 11:53 am
Scientists have outlined the wild way humans could travel past Neptune in under 10 years—with over 1.5 tons of cargo on board. ➡ You think space is badass. So do we. Let’s nerd out over it together.
- Four ways to fusion: The pros and pitfalls of our nuclear power pursuiton April 3, 2021 at 5:00 pm
For nearly a century, scientists have been tantalized by the prospect of attaining an inexhaustible source of energy through nuclear fusion. Unfortunately, engineering a controlled environment where ...
via Bing News