Toward Limitless Energy

This method was first proposed back in the sixties and was then not possible because laser technology was in its infancy. That is no longer true so we are now taking this idea as far as possible.

We are suddenly seeing many promising fusion technologies been funded and tested out. The shoe has dropped that tokomak is not the only game and it has so far failed to perform. This one is also a mega budget project that tests the limits of present laser methods.

It appears we are seeing more activity this year than has been seen the preceding decades, partly because of a fresh williness to carry a range of experiments and partly because modern simulation methods are giving both scientists and funders a new sense of control over the process. I mean they all look like they can work in simulation and the layman is not left mumbling to himself while he is asked to write a large check.

Of course, all these methods are promising, but will inevitably spawn details that also need to be overcome. This project is actually an oversized experiment and clearly a long way from a plausible commercial product.

Alternatives alike the polywell is naturally compact and if made to work, will look great in a large ship. And the focus fusion device looks ready to bolt into a starship right now. None if it will ever be that easy of course but we can certainly dream. At least the funders are now able to dream also.

Toward Limitless Energy

by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Aug 24, 2009

Chemists are preparing to play an important but often unheralded role in determining the success of one of the largest and most important scientific experiments in history - next year's initial attempts at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) to produce the world's first controlled
nuclear fusion reaction.

If successful in taming the energy source of the sun, stars, and of the hydrogen bomb, scientists could develop a limitless new source of producing electricity for homes, factories, and businesses.

The experiment could also lead to new insights into the origins of the universe. A special two-day symposium addressing this topic, "
Nuclear Diagnostics in Fusion Energy Research," will be presented Aug. 19 and 20 during the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Scientists have been trying to achieve controlled nuclear fusion for almost 50 years. In 2010, researchers at the NIF at Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory in California will focus the energy of 192 giant laser beams onto a pea-sized target filled with hydrogen fuel.

These lasers represent the world's highest-energy laser system. The scientists hope that their effort will ignite, or fuse, the hydrogen atoms' nuclei to trigger the high energy reaction.

"Chemists will definitely play a role in determining whether nuclear fusion reactions have occurred during this NIF experiment, which is key to determining whether the experiment is a success," says Dawn Shaughnessy, Ph.D., a scientist with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

"The idea is that the lasers will fuse hydrogen particles together, producing neutrons," says Shaughnessy, one of many scientists who plan to analyze materials produced by the reaction. "We'll collect and measure the materials produced from the ignition and hopefully be able to determine how many neutrons were made. More neutrons mean that more fusion has occurred."

NIF Science Director Richard Boyd, Ph.D., says that the NIF facility will offer unprecedented opportunities to advance the field of nuclear chemistry, with a special focus on nuclear reaction studies and the nuclear reactions of astrochemistry, the chemistry of outer space.

"A facility like this has never before been available to do experiments in nuclear chemistry," says Boyd, who is also co-chair of the special ACS symposium. "We're going where people have never gone before, and that could lead to some exciting, and possibly unanticipated, discoveries."

The NIF building is ten stories tall and has the width of three football fields. The facility, which is 95 percent complete, has taken more than a decade to build at an estimated cost $3.5 billion. Next year, its 192 intense laser beams will deliver to its target more than 60 times the energy of any previous laser system.

Scientists in France, the United Kingdom, Japan, and China are also developing laser fusion facilities. The ones in France and China will be similar to NIF, but NIF will begin operating several years before the other two. The facilities in Japan and the U.K. will be less powerful than NIF; they will try to achieve fusion with a somewhat different technique than that used initially at NIF. None of these facilities could produce a dangerous condition, Boyd says. As soon as the target's fuel is expended - in just a few billionths of a second - the reaction stops, he points out.

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