Sam Keene

Fusion - inertial


First Presentation

Some Sources

  1. Charles Seife. Sun in a Bottle. 2008 -Good history of fusion, nice look at international politics surrounding fusion and nuclear weapons
  2. “Fusion as an energy source: challenges and opportunities” W. J. Nuttall, Institute of Physics. 2008 -Analysis of Fusion energy vs. other sources, has some nice figures
  3. “Safe and Sustainable energy with LIFE” Arnie Heller, LLNL -Article out of LLNL about their power plant oriented fusion stuff, more on their website
  4. “Fusion’s False Dawn” Michael Moyer, SA 2010 -analysis of some of the challenges facing fusion power, kinda basic
  5. "Fabrication of Li4SiO4 pebbles by a sol–gel technique” Xiangwei Wu, Zhaoyin Wen, Xiaogang Xu, Yu Liu. Fusion engineering and Design 2010 -Some discussion on how to use breeder materials to make tritium This journal in general has lots of interesting articles. See also: “Fusion power plant availability study”, “Fusion solution to dispose of spent nuclear fuel, transuranic elements, and highly enriched uranium”, “Radiological impact of an intense fusion economy”
  6. - link to a European fusion power plant study; good stuff, but all magnetic fusion
  7. - DOE fact sheet on tritium production
  8. Cost Effective Target Fabrication for ICF
  9. IFE Fusion Reactor Designs
  10. Design aspects of LIFE engine

Also see Scientific American, NIF's website, and LLE's website (Rochester)

Questions from the first presentation

  1. How do you contain the sphere before attempted ignition? Is this energy efficient?
  2. What is the expected fuel requirement? How much deuterium & tritium is needed and what is the predicted source (ocean water, fresh water, etc.)?
  3. Assuming we were successful in creating a sustainable fusion power plant, where would we get the necessary amounts of deuterium and tritium? Can other materials be used for fusion reactions?
  4. What is the potential of fusion based energy?
  5. What effect would success with fusion have on our society and our energy problem?
  6. I’d be curious to learn more about the materials aspect of building a fusion reactor. On top of the difficulties in properly confining the plasma, the materials out of which the reactors are built will have to withstand very intense neutron fluxes, which tends to quickly damage most materials. What are the chances of overcoming this problem, which would seemingly radically reduce the life expectancy of a nuclear reactor?
  7. Is fusion, if we achieved it, significantly more dangerous than fission in terms of radioactive emissions?
  8. How do you gather the output energy from a fusion reaction and make it useful?
  9. Why is slow ignition when the collapse and heating part of ignition occur at the same time, while fast ignition occurs using two different laser pulses to heat and collapse the material?
  10. Currently is there any way of beginning fusion that seems more viable than any of the others, and if you are able to rank them what observations make one better than the other?
  11. Chernobyl was bad. Are there accidents on a similar scale that could happen with fusion?

Some further questions

  1. What is the rationale for continuing the study inertial confinement fusion? Does anyone believe that it might provide a viable approach to power generation, or is it exclusively for nuclear weapons research?
  2. How do they plan to capture neutrons at NIF?
  3. Is there a simple but more quantitative way to understand the Lawson criterion?
  4. Is the United States the only country working on inertial confinement fusion? What are the goals of the program in Rochester?
  5. What is the density-temperature product for the interior of the Sun?
  6. Why does NIF use Nd:glass amplifiers?
  7. How are all the beams synchronized?

~Peter Saeta 2010 March 10 at 02:33 PM PST

Second Presentation


  • What's the theory behind it?
    • Time, Temperature, Density needed
  • What are the current approaches?
    • Why don't they work?
    • How are they being adapted?
  • How soon could ignition be possible? Is there really any way of knowing?
  • How could fusion power plants handle the country's/world's energy demands?
  • What would have to happen for such reactors to be economically viable options?
  • What are the risks of trying to ignite and maintain a fusion reactor?
  • What are the long term effects of widespread use of fusion power? (what do we think they are)
  • Could fusion be harnessed to actually get rid of CO2?
  • NIF:

First Presentation (technical aspects of ICF)

  • Hydrogen Fusion
    • Basic process
    • Strong force vs. Coulomb force
    • Energy in/energy out
    • Compare to other energy types?
  • Fusion as a power source
    • Requirements
      • P_out > P_in
      • Temperature (talk about Maxwell-Boltzmann dist?)
      • Density, continuous fuel injection, need for chain reaction
      • Containable
      • Safety, neutron flux
    • Fuel
      • Deuterium - available, clean
      • Size/shape/composition of fuel pellets
  • Inertial confinement fusion
    • What it is
      • Basic mechanism
      • Most designs use lasers - rapid pulse, high power, huge amplification
      • "Implode" D - achieve density, maintain reaction to burn most of the fuel
    • Brief history
      • The sun!
      • H-bomb
      • 60s/70s mechanisms proposed - only in theory b/c lasers lack the capability
      • 70s laser improvements
      • 70s/80s obstacles - theoretical power needed increases, leads to more laser improvements.
      • Testing facilities
        • (Fill in)
    • Current obstacles
      • Power (lasers)
      • Symmetry of explosion
      • Sustained reactions
      • Efficiency - laser amplification, conversion to electric power
      • Huge power input
      • Cost
    • Current projects and improvements
      • X-ray conversion
      • Amplification improvements - flash lamps, doped glass
      • Laser power continues to improve
      • Current facilities
        • (Fill-in)

~Peter Saeta 2010 February 20 at 07:00 PM PST Looks good, Sam.