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posted by martyb on Monday August 23 2021, @02:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the glad-it-stopped dept.

National Ignition Facility Breakthrough: Experiment Puts Researchers at Threshold of Fusion Ignition:

On August 8, 2021, an experiment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's (LLNL's) National Ignition Facility (NIF) made a significant step toward ignition, achieving a yield of more than 1.3 megajoules (MJ). This advancement puts researchers at the threshold of fusion ignition, an important goal of the NIF, and opens access to a new experimental regime.

The experiment was enabled by focusing laser light from NIF — the size of three football fields — onto a target the size of a BB that produces a hot-spot the diameter of a human hair, generating more than 10 quadrillion watts of fusion power for 100 trillionths of a second.

"These extraordinary results from NIF advance the science that NNSA depends on to modernize our nuclear weapons and production as well as open new avenues of research," said Jill Hruby, DOE under secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA administrator.

[...] "This result is a historic step forward for inertial confinement fusion research, opening a fundamentally new regime for exploration and the advancement of our critical national security missions. It is also a testament to the innovation, ingenuity, commitment and grit of this team and the many researchers in this field over the decades who have steadfastly pursued this goal," said LLNL Director Kim Budil. "For me it demonstrates one of the most important roles of the national labs – our relentless commitment to tackling the biggest and most important scientific grand challenges and finding solutions where others might be dissuaded by the obstacles."

Journal Reference:
K. L. Baker, C. A. Thomas, D. T. Casey, et al. Hotspot parameter scaling with velocity and yield for high-adiabat layered implosions at the National Ignition Facility, Physical Review E (DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.102.023210)


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  • (Score: 2) by Barenflimski on Monday August 23 2021, @02:15AM (8 children)

    by Barenflimski (6836) on Monday August 23 2021, @02:15AM (#1169739)

    How does one capture 10 quadrillion watts of fusion power?

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by istartedi on Monday August 23 2021, @02:35AM (7 children)

      by istartedi (123) on Monday August 23 2021, @02:35AM (#1169742) Journal

      High power, but very short duration. TFA says that 1.3 MJ of energy was released, which works out to about 360 Watt-hours [convertlive.com], ie, enough to run a modest tower PC for an hour.

      It was also not the holy grail of useful output, just 70% out of what they put in to it. Yet another incremental step.

      Anyway, once they have useful energy output I imagine the capture would be mostly thermal using the heat to turn water in to steam and run turbines as in traditional power plants. We're nowhere near that yet.

      --
      Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by anubi on Monday August 23 2021, @03:53AM (6 children)

        by anubi (2828) on Monday August 23 2021, @03:53AM (#1169754) Journal

        Giant leap in my book. They lit the nuclear fire of fusion, controlled it, and didn't blow the place to smithereens.

        I believe the entire future of the human race as we have known it rests in the success of these people.

        Godspeed, NIF!

        --
        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @08:50AM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @08:50AM (#1169793)

          you're being naive. they're researching nuclear weapons here.
          commercial fusion will be from tokamaks, such as ITER and DEMO.
          JET (another tokamak) already had "more power out than in" more than ten years ago. ITER will be able to have single experiments where more energy goes out than in.
          and the next step, DEMO, is planned to be a net positive financially (energy being generated can be sold for more than funds needed to build and maintain).

          these inertial confinement people keep talking about energy generation, but anyone with a little bit of background knowledge will know that this is just research into atomic weapons. they even say it in this press release...

          I'd say that any sort of experiment is good because it helps build more solid models, but for fusion plasmas the different regimes require either (1) a model that's too complicated to be of practical use, but works for the different regimes or (2) incompatible models for the different regimes, i.e. different experiments don't inform alternative parameter ranges.

          • (Score: 3, Informative) by FatPhil on Monday August 23 2021, @10:38AM (1 child)

            by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Monday August 23 2021, @10:38AM (#1169816) Homepage
            > JET (another tokamak) already had "more power out than in" more than ten years ago.

            No they didn't. They got Q~0.7 over 2 decades back and have not beaten that since. People with pencils and spreadsheets have hypothesised that were they to use a different fuel they'd have Q>1, but noone ever got energy out of pencils and spreadheets. Other grandiose claims of over unity have been based on taking the ratio of energy generated by the helium divided by energy put into the hydrogen. Alas, that final quantity is only a small fraction of energy put into the system as a whole, so it's not generating power.

            At this rate, unity will be achieved in, oooh, I don't know, thirty years?
            --
            Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @02:54PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @02:54PM (#1169882)

              the last 60 years of fusion research:

              we just need:
              10 billion dollars
              10,000 grad students
              10 more years

              and we'll have it licked!

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by crafoo on Monday August 23 2021, @09:44AM (2 children)

          by crafoo (6639) on Monday August 23 2021, @09:44AM (#1169804)

          They heat a small pellet of fuel using a nearly impossible to align array of pulse lasers fed by a train yard of capacitors. They’ve been doing this grift for about 35 years now.

          It has nothing to do with fusion energy production, really. It’s about developing better fusion explosions without having to detonate actual bombs. Energy is just for the press releases because it fits well with the cattles current cult ideology.

          • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Monday August 23 2021, @06:29PM (1 child)

            by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Monday August 23 2021, @06:29PM (#1169955) Journal

            [citation motherfuckin' needed], because even for you that's unthinkingly cynical and nihilistic...

            --
            I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @01:28AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24 2021, @01:28AM (#1170101)

              What? You do understand that the NIF [llnl.gov] is run by the military, right?

              The High Energy Density science program studies material behavior under extreme pressure, enabling researchers to conduct weapon physics experiments in a controlled laboratory environment once possible only with underground testing.

  • (Score: 2) by MIRV888 on Monday August 23 2021, @03:37AM (4 children)

    by MIRV888 (11376) on Monday August 23 2021, @03:37AM (#1169752)

    'These extraordinary results from NIF advance the science that NNSA depends on to MODERNIZE OUR NUCLEAR WEAPONS and production'
    Science!

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by mhajicek on Monday August 23 2021, @04:29AM

      by mhajicek (51) on Monday August 23 2021, @04:29AM (#1169756)

      Just what we need. Nukes with frickin lasers.

      --
      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @11:23AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @11:23AM (#1169826)

      The humans can't stand abundance. It's the whole social dominance thing.

      They aren't going to make it. It's more important to be socially dominant than solve problems.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday August 23 2021, @01:21PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 23 2021, @01:21PM (#1169844) Journal
        If only someone were fixing the problems [soylentnews.org]? If you have to ignore the entire developed world in order to spin your tale, then maybe there's something wrong with the narrative.
    • (Score: 2) by Hartree on Tuesday August 24 2021, @10:27PM

      by Hartree (195) on Tuesday August 24 2021, @10:27PM (#1170539)

      If it keeps us from resuming live nuclear weapons testing I'll rate it as a bargain.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @10:59AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @10:59AM (#1169822)

    This breakthrough probably moves us closer to practical fusion power being only 20 years away.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @02:18PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @02:18PM (#1169869)

      Now only 19.9 years.

    • (Score: 2) by MIRV888 on Saturday August 28 2021, @04:01AM

      by MIRV888 (11376) on Saturday August 28 2021, @04:01AM (#1171636)

      I hope you are right. Operational fusion reactors would be a game changer. Unlimited electrical power would take us into star trek land.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @04:28PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23 2021, @04:28PM (#1169902)

    being able to pop a BB three fields away, seems admirable use of power, if you bet the right spread for the game.

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