Inertial Fusion Energy (IFE) Steps Forward
This Report is the Plan for the National Ignition Facility's (NIF)
Development of an IFE Demonstration Facility.
LLNL, IFE Science & Technology Strategic Planning Report
Dec 13th, 2022, By Anthony Gerillo - Managing Editor, Fusion Energy News International
With the National Ignition Facility’s (NIF) fusion energy gain experiment being expressed in an extremely bright light all over the world, fusion has stepped forward. Many opinions have been formed over the experiment’s importance and value. From a journalist’s point of view, the advertising has been exceptional. Note: If you are in the fusion community, you will already know some of the following. However, you should look for the LLNL, IFE report linked below.
The NIF experiments to reach fusion energy gain have been going on in various stages since the mid-90s. Fusion gain in brief, is more energy obtained by, than absorbed by the experiment. The NIF facility and experiments were initially developed for the stewardship of our nuclear weapons arsenal and national defense. Reference The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA): (https://www.energy.gov/nnsa/) Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), is home to the
NIF. Through the years they have extended Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) development along with Inertial Fusion Energy (IFE) development
LLNL on February 22nd through the 24th, 2022 hosted the
“IFE Science and Technology Community Strategic Planning Workshop”
and on May 19th, 2022, they provided the report.
Over 200 scientists, engineers and program administrators from public and private sectors participated in the in the WebEx meeting. They were mostly from the U.S. but there was a healthy 25% international representation. All of them were given a voice for input and discussion. The workshop was organized by a committee from various national labs and universities and chaired by Alex Zystra, an experimental physicist with LLNL. I sat in on those three (3) days of meetings and presentations and may have been the only news outlet to do so.
The charge for workshop attendees was twofold:
Assess near- and long-term research opportunities in inertial fusion energy, and the necessary high energy density physics and technologies.
Outline and develop a strategy for the High Energy Density Plasma (HEDP), ICF, and IFE communities to work together.
First, it’s important to recognize the difference between ICF and IFE:
Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) is what NIF does for the NNSA.
Inertial Fusion Energy (IFE) is what NIF does for The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Technology (OSTI), Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) program.
Reference: (https://science.osti.gov/fes) And of course, much of this is overlapping.
The entire report with all links to the agenda, presentations, breakout meetings, white papers, and appendices can be found here: LLNL, IFE Science & Technology Community Strategic Planning Report
The report contains links to dozens of presentations given between workshops that provided direction for discussion. There are also links to 83 white papers and breakout session (quad-chart) presentations that came out of the workshop. The breakout meetings, presentation and discussions led to this report and these four (4) “Observations and Recommendations” with summaries in the report.
Guide research by systems-level assessments
Leverage the modularity of IFE
Timeline and process for focusing the program
Building the research community
If you would like to read a comparatively brief overview of how they reached the recommendations, the section of the report that contains the summaries for the breakout session questions is very good.
Here are a few sample questions:
Session #1 – Centers around high-level aspects of the (IFE) program – 6 questions total
Question #5: How do we foster collaborations, e.g., between NNSA + SC + DOD labs,
universities, and private industry? And collaboration between Magnetic Fusion
Energy (MFE) and IFE?
Session #2 – Centers on drivers (systems, approaches, etc.) – 5 questions total
Question #2: What is the consensus, or lack of consensus, about the status of the various
Session #3 – Centers on Fuel Targets (Physics and Fabrication) – 7 questions total
Question #6: What is the path towards demonstrating IFE-relevant gain (after NIF 0.7)?
Part of Summary: "… We therefore ought to leverage the physics results from the NNSA program
on NIF to improve our understanding of the scientific issues and inform
requirements for IFE aspects like robustness, as well as potential test alternative
designs, supported by the IFE program, at ignition scale…”
Session #4 – Centers on Engineering – 6 questions total
Question #1: What should the program goals be to demonstrate Technology Readiness Levels of
targets? How does this tie in with the whole system’s TRL?
Session #5 – Closing Discussions – 7 questions total
Question #3: Scale of the program. How do we deal with the fact that an IFE plant is a NIF-scale
Part of Summary: “At present, this community needs to advance the readiness of the underlying
science and technologies before a demonstration plant could be credibly
proposed. Simultaneously, we must keep an eye on a timeline for such a
Fusion Energy News International (FENi) has a substantial presence on LinkedIn and we will begin discussion on the various topics discussed in this report. To view or be a contributor to these discussions, simply log into LinkedIn and search #fusionenergynews or Fusion Energy News International under companies.
Early next year look for reporting on the various technologies, processes and products that have developed from the pursuit of Commercial Fusion Energy (CFE). www.fusion-energy-news.com
All data, information and images are taken from the LLNL, IFE Science & Technology Strategic Commuity Planning Report, and its linked contributions. All credits are given to the contributors to the report.
LLNL, IFE Science & Technology CommunityStrategic Planning Report