US boffins: We’re close to fusion ignition in the lab – as seen in stars and thermonuclear weapons

The Reg speaks to chief scientist in fuel-compression experiment

An illustration of the fusion fuel capsule held inside a hohlraum in the NIF experiment. Laser light fired at the chamber is converted into x-rays that compress the pellet to start a fusion reaction ... Source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Science and Technology Review [PDF]

The US government’s nuclear physicists say they are closing in on fusion ignition – the point at which a fusion reaction becomes self-sustaining – in the lab by compressing matter with lasers.

We’re told they were able to produce more than 1.3 megajoules of energy in 89 picoseconds – that’s 89 trillionths of a second – at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) earlier this month. That energy release works out to 15 petawatts, 311 grams of TNT exploding, or the chemical energy equivalent of a big pile of batteries.

“A nine-volt battery stores about 15 kilojoules of energy, so the energy content is roughly equivalent to 80 nine-volt batteries of chemical energy,” Omar Hurricane, chief scientist for the Inertial Confinement Fusion Program at LLNL, told The Register, putting the 1.3MJ into perspective.

Crucially, that figure is about 70 per cent of the energy fired into the experiment, which involved crushing a tiny amount of fusion fuel until its atoms fused, releasing energy. This is a notable milestone, the scientists said, because it puts them at the threshold of fusion ignition, which is the point where a fusion reaction becomes self-sustaining: the energy released keeps the reaction going, continually producing energy until the fuel runs out, as seen inside stars over the eons. Humans can potentially harness this energy for various purposes.

“Ignition is a tipping-point in the fusion process where the fusion heats itself and overwhelms all the cooling losses that can occur,” Hurricane said. “Once this happens a feedback process is generated where heating creates more fusion, which creates more heating, which creates more fusion, and so on.”  read more…


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  1. Is using the prefix “The Right Honorable” in conjunction with ghoulish Blair mini me British MP Rory Stewart ironic ?
    excerpt – Rory Stewart Apologises For ‘Losing His Cool’ On BBC Question Time Over Afghanistan Huffpost UK
    Hasan “We cannot have an endless war and do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.”
    Stewart interrupted Hasan, and claimed: “You’re massively misrepresenting the situation, combat operations finished in 2014.”
    “Millions of Afghans [have seen] their lives improving over the last few years, you’re much too pessimistic about what’s been happening in Kabul.”

  2. Yea, being close is often reported, it is probably a better story to hear how a dude named Omar got Hurricane for a last name. it’s excellent branding material.

  3. They want and need that recent “infrastructure” funding to promote “green nuclear energy” just as 8 billion was recemt;ly given to “blue hydrogen” research….(blue hydrogen has higher carbon footprint than coal so go figure))
    This nuclear ignition ideais basically to contain a nuclear explosion
    They have been telling congress and public they are “just on the verge” ofit since 1970s, and it is always a scientific-lie to get more and more in billions in funding for the nuclear weapons and energy labs and scientists.
    The “nuclear ignition” in article is usually called “hot fusion” as opposed to coild fusion, which is something ssafe and do able and already proven to work. (look up Rossi and LENR)
    Anyone working on coild fusion rgets nothing from government, and are ridiculed and pretty much thrown out of country, like Fleishman and Pons were, some are just murdered like Eugene Mallove was when they go too far challenging the nuclear industry with coid fusion.
    So its a bunch of shit, nuclear weapons industry loves the grants at sacrifice of what should be having billions in research funding which is cold fusion…
    Eugene Mallove had a self-sustaing “sono” coild fusion reactor in his lab in NH in 2002, he was to meed with DOE the week before his murder, went on Art Bell Radio show bragging about it, they killed him next day.

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