Physics @ Berkeley
Events in Physics
Title: Energy Security And Frontier Science At The National Ignition Facility    (Colloquia)
Start Date: 03/29/2010
Time: 4:30 pm
Location: 1 LeConte
Speaker: Ed Moses
Affiliation: NIF and Photon Science, LLNL

The National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world’s largest and most powerful laser system for inertial confinement fusion (ICF) and for studying high-energy-density (HED) science, is now operational and conducting experiments at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).  Demonstration of ignition and thermonuclear burn in the laboratory is a major NIF goal. NIF will achieve this by concentrating the energy from its 192 beams into a mm3-sized target and igniting a deuterium-tritium mix, liberating more energy than is required to initiate the fusion reaction.

NIF’s ignition program is a national effort managed via the National Ignition Campaign (NIC). The NIC has two major goals: execution of DT ignition experiments starting in FY2010 for the purpose of demonstrating ignition and developing a reliable, repeatable ignition platform by the conclusion of the NIC at the end of FY2012. The NIC will also develop the infrastructure and the processes required to operate NIF as a national user facility. Achieving ignition at NIF will demonstrate the scientific feasibility of ICF and will focus worldwide attention on laser fusion as a viable energy option.

A laser fusion-based energy concept that builds on NIF ignition, known as LIFE (Laser Inertial Fusion Engine), is currently under development. LIFE is inherently safe and can provide a global carbon-free energy generation solution in the 21st century. LIFE requires development of advanced technologies such as high-repetition-rate (~10 Hz), high-energy lasers; mass production of targets; and first-wall materials capable of withstanding the high x-ray and neutron fluxes present in the fusion environment. Progress on this to date has been promising and will be reviewed in a forthcoming National Academy of Sciences/National Academy of Engineering Study on inertial fusion energy.

The NIF extreme environment also provides a powerful experimental platform for study of fundamental science, including the behavior of matter at extreme temperatures, pressures and densities; astrophysics; and others. For example, experiments planned for 2010 and beyond will provide new insights into the makeup of planetary interiors and the hydrodynamic evolution of supernovae in our universe.

The talk will discuss recent progress on NIF, NIC and the role of NIF in future energy security and frontier science.


This work performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344.