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  1. Rod these types of expenditure convince me more and more of your basic premise that the restrictions on fission are from the influence of the established players.

  2. With my limited understand of fusion processes, I have learned enough to know that although hydrogen is abundant, laboratory fusion requires special isotopes such as Tritium and Deuterium. Even though a little goes a long way, those aren’t exactly “abundant”. The sell for fusion glosses over this leading people to believe just plain water will do the job.

    A questioning attitude about fusion should be wondering with all this effort why there hasn’t been a practical breakthrough? Fission went from crude prototypes to working reactors in about 14 years. In most other areas of technological development, if there’s something worthwhile, we see a rapid progression of advancements year after year usually after “crude prototypes” are first proven. Where is the crude, but working, prototype fusion reactor?

    1. @Jason – The field test divisions of LANL and LLNL National Labs have been able to harness controlled energy from D-D and D-T fusion since the Ivy Mike nuclear test in 1952 (the first fusion burn occured in the Ivy Geoge test about six months earlier in 1951). These events occured fully 4 years before the first commercial fission power reactor (Shippingport Atomic Power Station) went online.

      It is common to share a widely held but incorrect view that fusion is (always) only 20 years away, and as such is only an unpractical form of energy generation and a sinkhole for limited R&D money.

      There is a tested, practical, fission ignited fusion technology devised by America’s most skillful and experienced nuclear designers at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Labs that produces net energy at Gigawatt levels and requires no technical breakthroughs to build. That technology is called PACER fusion, and in the Lawrence Livermore implementation, it is a molten salt U-233/Thorium assisted fusion technology that burns abundantly available nuclear fuels that can be extracted from sea water while producing only non-radioactive helium as nuclear waste. PACER is complementary technology to today’s fission reactor technology. PACER would help breed fission reactor fuels and transmute LWR SNF/waste at a more rapid rate and at lower cost than any proposed alternative.
      More info:

      1. Robert,
        Until that burn of Ivy George, fusion was a theoretical concept. We could induce it, theoretically. Induction is not control. We are still not able to control it as we would the gas pedal on a car after many years of research.

        For a little time scale, We identified fission for what it was in 1938. On December, 2 1942 CP-1 achieved criticality. Stated another way, that means we achieved a configuration where the fundamental eigen value was unity. Since that date we have been able to control the power level of fission reactors with impunity. On December, 2 1957, fission became a commercial entity. On March 30, 1953 we were using fission power to propel our submarines, four years before commercial viability.

        We were using fission for transportation when we were first able to cause fusion. We have yet to achieve a stable eigen system with fusion. Until such a time, fusion is a pipe dream and will not be commercially viable. While we wait for it, the world burns and we create unnecessary angst over a power supply of actual practical importance.

        I’ve read your statements of the dimensions of the system. I do not think that you appreciate the scale and the complexity that it induces with construction, or the stresses that are induced by minor, and I mean minor pressure fluctuations. Living inside a steal tube with no interior structural assemblies, will give you an intemate appreciation for the force caused per unit area. Compressive forces are much more challenging than tensile. Why is it that a 27′ diameter hull ~2″ thick of 80 ksi yield strength steel has a design pressure to withstand >800′ of water, when an equivalently sized apparatus can withstand an order of magnitude greater force if the higher pressure is inside. Because of its enormous size, a small vacuum < 1psid would cause your structure to implode. I believe the materials you need have not been discovered for such fanciful endeavors. It has to be light, because it as a structure has to support its own wieght. It has to withstand high temperatures. It has to be strong to support the pressure differential. I'd love to see a stress load code output that takes the heat and the transient shock of the explosion. Don't forget the neutron embrittlement, you have a lot of high energy neutrons that play havoc on steel, and you have little to no shielding between them and the steel, so you will need thermal shields to attempt to attenuate these neutrons to prevent damage, that means more weight that will need support. What is the neutron fluence at the inner wall of the cavity. You will have to preheat the steel to prevent exceeding heat-up rates below RTT. Any temperature gradient within the steel will cause stress. Then you have to make it, that means welding, welding induces flaws, what is the size of your allowable defect? that will determine the inspection requirements, basically you will have to RT every joint made in that massive cavity. That takes time and a whole lot of money. Then you have to have access to both sides of this massive subterranean construction project. How is the earth above it supported? If it is by the structure, it will have to be backfilled and will add additional stress to the facility. Oh, I forgot, all of the materials used in the facility will have to meet strict QA requirements to just meet the demanding material environment. If you ever wonder why nuclear reactors cost so much, its the QA and the paper trail, and the training of the qualified workers. I wonder if you have thought this through fully.

        I am sorry to be so harsh. Please stop promoting this until you sit down and actually try and build it. Call it a thought experiment. Things don't just happen there has to be something to support it being there. Constructs have to be built, building is a process and does not just happen.

        There are 5 questions you need to ask yourself when designing a system How? How? How? How? How? Ask yourself these questions for every design point. This should give you an actual feel for the complexity of this system and identify the vulnerabilities and the challenges that it faces. We have not even gotten to how to establish qualified suppliers and supply chain management, much less physical assembly on site. Time in construction projects is not your friend for one reason, compound interest.

        As a rule scientists make terrible engineers, Fermi was an exception. I respect your scientific investigations, however when it comes to the design engineering of a viable commercial system you need to consider much much more.

        I wish you the best of luck, I really do. Taking on something and thinking it through is intoxicatingly fun. Until, you answer the basic critiques of that I outlined above, remaining quiet about promoting it in public forums is a wise alternative. Once you get the basic design done, crowdsourcing the design for feedback is invaluable, and I would be more than happy to help at that stage. You are not there.

        1. Cal – I am always grateful to get your insightful comments (I do not always happen to always agree with them).

          PACER Fusion was a real program of significant scale at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Labs (not just some weak unsupported technical notion floated by an old Field Test Division Retiree) and comparable in scale to other reactor development programs at Argonne, INL, or ORNL National Labs. The PACER design was done by arguably the finest nuclear designer of my era (LLNL’s Dr. Ralph Moir) and the whole intension of his efforts was not to just impress, put on a show, titillate, or divert, but to produce a practical system for generating power from fusion within a fixed short span (less than 3 years).

          More than any other fusion concept, PACER Fusion is tested and demonstrated technology, and is closer to commercialization than many other nuclear power generation concepts including Molten Salt Reactors. There are NO remaining technical obstacles that would prevent immediate safe construction of successful PACER fusion reactors which would perform in many significant nuclear applications in a manner markedly superior to any competing nuclear system or approach. While people higher up in the Nixon Administration were not comfortable in supporting a fusion power generation concept that develops power through a succession of small explosions, and opted to fund other preferred fusion concepts that purported to produce fusion power through a continuous fusion burn, in the end 40 years of tokomaks and Laser ICF has failed to produce any net energy in even one freak instance (more energy out than required run the fusion experiment).

          You ask HOW, HOW, HOW, PACER could be, and I would answer that the details are contained in LLNL and LANL technical reports which can largely be found on the PACER Fusion pdf archive page.

          At the time of project cancelation, PACER was ready to field test. Detailed designs exist for the PACER PNE and the PACER cavity that solve all of the objections you raise. The PACER cavity is only required to sustain a pressure of about 30 MPascals (the cavity is first pumped down to a soft vacuum before the PACER shot, greatly reducing max pressure). The molten salt that is used to collect and transfer heat is also loaded with a neutron absorber than helps protect the walls of the PACER cavity from neutron embrittlement (Thorium slurry in molten salt is used in the configurations that are designed to breed U-233 fissile at high efficiency). In the 10 seconds prior to the PACER shot, high volume molten salt pumps spray a wall of falling molten salt/neutron absorber from nozzles at the top of the PACER cavity. These provisions give, in the estimate of LLNL mechanical engineering, a PACER cavity life of in excess of 200,000 PACER shots or 30 years of commercial operation (minimum) using the small 3kt LLNL PACER optimized peaceful nuclear explosive (PNE). PACER produces its energy in discrete thermonuclear ignitions every ½ hour for the LLNL PNE (and about every 6 hours for the larger LANL PNE) but the molten salt in the reactor store the heat and allows continuous power generation from the reactor at a 1GWe level.

          If you would like to understand PACER better, I would suggest you consider examination of the first two documents in the archive.
          (168K PDF) UCRL: 98458 PACER Revisited, – by Ralph Moir

          (354.2K PDF) LA-5754-MS PACER Program: FY-1974 LASL Activity – by R. G. Shrefler and R. E. Roush

          PACER is good practical fusion power generation technology designed by fine competent designers in the National Laboratory system. It is not necessary to wait 50 years to produce large practical amounts of power from fusion. If you will permit a very small amount of fissile material to be used to achieve the conditions of D-D or D-T fusion, then we can use low technical risk PACER reactor to make the United States energy independent and to end the economic bleedout of America as it struggles to acquire foreign supplied fuels (oil+uranium).

          Note: I am willing to embarrass myself in bringing to the attention of others the fact that a practical form of fusion power generation exists that could be used to improve conditions in the United States and around the world.

          1. I scanned through about half of the documents. The use of FLiBe as a coolant means that it is hot, very hot and now creep becomes an issue. The SWU cost of the very HEU, the 3kt devices were not terribly efficient, high leakage, I imagine they rely on compression of the U-235 to achieve the small size, or does this have to be done with Pu-239. Either way I’ve never studied nuclear weapons, just have some design ideas, the proliferation risk and security required to establish a production facility of 3kT devices carries significant cost. All members need SECRET NOFORN/ Q-clearances. What is the international impact of being able to manufacture industrial scale quantities of high isotopic purity Pu-239? Mein Gott! Do you understand the policy implications of this? The State Department would advise the administration and rightfully so that this would cause an international nuclear arms race. The devices that you are talking about are sub tactical weapons, suitcase bombs. And we want to train a lot of people and develop the technology to mass produce these things and then turn them over to the private sector to detonate them? What are the safeguards? What are the safeguards of the minds of the individuals to prevent them form selling this knowhow?

            I can’t close my mouth, I am so shocked. Are you serious about this? Do you know what you are advocating? Do you understand the dangers and the risks this opens up? The political feasibility has a snowball’s chance in hell. Fortunately the technical and economic will also prohibit this. The articles I read did not address my concerns on the design and construction. It was a lot of conceptual stuff. In here the devil is in the details. I am glad the technical feasibility ranks up there with the political feasibility. This is like handing a Glock with a chambered round to a 3-year old expecting a good outcome. Glock’s safety is in the trigger, all the kid has to do is squeeze. I hope that graphic lets you know what I think of this idea.

          2. PACER sounds like the inspirational parent of a 1950’s space propulsion off-shoot concept in “Project Orion” which avails multiple small nuclear detonations against a huge piston-cushioned pusher plate to drive an immense thousands-ton space craft like the “putt-putt” of a vast outboard motorboat, It was a fave of Carl Sagan’s because it’d be a peaceful way to spend the world’s nuclear arsenal on. Technically, not only could Orion reach Titan in only several weeks, but expanded upon, could be a multi-decade interstellar craft as well. Weren’t the U.N.’s brash Test Ban against all nuclear explosions in space, we could’ve ruled the inner solar system by now.

            James Greenidge
            Queens NY

  3. There’s also the ITER project, a tokamak fusion device, that is going to cost 3 times the amount that has been spent on the NIF. All this money would be better spent on developing Generation IV reactors, which are far more promising, if the goal is to produce virtually unlimited energy.

  4. I’ll go ahead and jump in with this while Robert Steinhaus is still probably asleep on the West Coast, but we have been able to harness fusion power since about 1952. While most of the methods that have been tried have perpetually remained 30-50 years from breaking through commercially, there is another way.


    With a properly engineered “cylinder”, a properly engineered just-in-time delivery system for the fission-fusion fuel, and a properly engineered “peaceful fusion burst device” (my replacement term for a “PNE”), coupled to a properly engineered power conversion system; there is very little further technical development that would be needed to obtain useful energy from fusion in a manner somewhat analagous to the controlled bursts that propel internal combustion engines forward.

    I think Robert may have set up the site below partially after my suggestion, after we had discussed the concept some on Facebook.

    1. And me throwing the PACER stuff out there is not at all out of line with the overall theme of this post.

      Heck, with $5 Billion, PACER could almots certainly have a commerical-ready prototype that could be quickly replicated.

      With even just an extra $600 million boost, the mPower could probably be licensed and commercial-ready by 2018 or 2019.

    2. Joel,

      There’s a reason the reports on PACER have been collecting dust on DOE shelves for 30 years. We will not build a reactor that works by conducting thousands of underground nuclear tests every year. Not today, not tomorrow, not in our lifetimes.

      1. @Joel – My thanks for raising the PACER fusion banner while I slept (Rip Van Winkled). Unlike all of the other fusion technology that currently are offered to an energy starved world, PACER fusion produces net energy, and at the Gigawatt level, and requires no technology breakthroughs to currently commercially build. Instead of being a promise of an energy technology that might be important in 50 or 100 years, PACER fusion is practical technology that could produce power within 3 years with little or no required additional technology development to produce a safe 1GWe operating commercial power plant.

        @John – I can understand to some degree your reservations and your fears.
        It is unfortunate that some fuels (like gasoline and I purport, Deuterium-Tritium fusion fuel) are best exploited by making a succession of small controlled explosions. D-T and D-D fusion is frequently held up by energy experts to be the cleanest and greenest form of nuclear energy, as it produces only non-radioactive helium as waste. Somehow, when you add the element of nuclear fission needed to reliably ignite fusion plasma, a PACER power plant suddenly becomes too dangerous to consider, even though the energy produced by the fusion reactor is the very same D-D or D-T fusion produced by ultra-green tokomaks or ICF Laser fusion.

        Around the turn of the last century, there was a controversy around what the best way was to build a horseless carriage. Some, like the Stanley Steamer company, preferred to use a steam boiler and burn gasoline, kerosene, and other fuels in an external burner which heated the water that produced steam. Others suggested that gasoline could be safely burned in a series of small controlled explosions inside the block of an internal combustion engine. Both approaches were tried, but the extraction of energy through a series of small controlled explosions proved more efficient at extracting the energy in the fuel and it won out and ultimately became the dominant approach for powering the modern automobile.

        PACER fusion is real fusion and shares all of the desirable qualities of fusion that excite the energy analysts; it just uses a small fission fissile igniter to do it. Less than 1% of the energy produced by PACER comes from the fission igniter (or primary) and greater than 99% of the energy produced by PACER comes from D-D or D-T fusion.

        If a 27 meter wide 227 meter deep hole were dug in the desert floor of the Nevada Test Site (Nevada Nuclear Security Site) and small 3kt devices were exploded 1 every half hour while no detectable shock was experienced at the earth surface while generating over a Gigawatt of clean high quality continuous power, how is America diminished?

        Somehow it is visionary and respectful of the needs of the future to each year invest over $400 million dollars into fusion technology that will probably not result in commercial power plants in your lifetime, but real, low technical risk practical fusion power plants like PACER that not only produce a q factor of >= 1 (more energy out than energy required to run the fusion reactor) but produce a q factor > 100,000 (fusion energy out divided by the energy produced by the high explosives required to initiate the fission igniter (primary).

        PACER fusion is not replacement nuclear energy but complementary nuclear technology that would breed fissile nuclear fuels like rare U-233 more rapidly and cheaply than any other proposed nuclear system and could also transmute LWR SNF more economically and efficiently than IFR, GE Prism, or any other proposed fast reactor of similar size (power).

        PACER deserves a second look.

        1. I can understand to some degree your reservations and your fears.

          @Robert – My views have nothing to do with fear. The US conducted hundreds of underground tests at much greater yields than the proposed PACER with little risk to the general public. Look at the PACER idea from the perspective of monitoring and verifying nonproliferation and test-ban treaties.

          Now other people’s fears would be a big issue. Look up what happened (or more precisely what didn’t happen) with the DIVINE STRAKE test that was to be conducted at the NTS.

          1. @John – I am not an expert on international law (I am just a retired LLNL Field Test staff member who helped conduct tests of America’s nuclear arsenal).

            My reading of the existing international treaties is that PACER fusion is permitted under the ratified treaties in force and in fact, language exists in the treaties expressly authorizing fusion energy systems. One of the first and oldest of the nuclear treaties still in force is the Nonproliferation Treaty.
            Specific language in this treaty guarantees “any peaceful applications of nuclear explosions” on a nondiscriminatory basis (United Nations 1975, Article V).

            The corresponding article reads:
            Article V
            Each Party to this Treaty undertakes to take appropriate measures to ensure that, in accordance with this Treaty, under appropriate international observation and through appropriate international procedures, potential benefits from any peaceful applications of nuclear explosions will be made available to non-nuclear-weapon States Party to this Treaty on a nondiscriminatory basis and that the charge to such Parties for the explosive devices used will be as low as possible and exclude any charge for research and development. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty shall be able to obtain such benefits, pursuant to a special international agreement or agreements, through an appropriate international body with adequate representation of non-nuclear weapon States. Negotiations on this subject shall commence as soon as possible after the Treaty enters into force. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty so desiring may also obtain such benefits pursuant to bilateral agreements.
            So far as I can determine, there are no insurmountable obstacles to building and operating a PACER fusion nuclear power plant that make peaceful use of small thermonuclear explosive devices.

  5. Based upon the forms of fule used in NIF and the energy type used to ignite them, I am convinced that NIF has absolutely nothing to do with an ultimate end of generating electricity. It is a pulsed design, completely unsuitable for achieving a high capacity factor needed for any meaningful form of capital recovery.

    A thermonuclear device operates by detonating a conventional fisison device to generate an intense pulse of electormagnetic radiation. This radiation is used to ignite the second stage device. The second stage is a fusion fuel (tritium) in a cylindrical fuel form surrounded by a polymer. The radiation from the first device turns the polymer into a plasma. The plasma’s expansion compresses the tirtium causing it to ignite. This is exactly what NIF does, except the fusion forms are tiny, and they use lasers instead of a fission device to supply the power to cause fusion. In the weapons world this is refered to as a Teller-Ulam device and is the basis of every successful thermonuclear device ever built.

    From the above information, I think NIF is entirely suited for testing the second stage devide of a thermonuclear weapon. We may have stopped detonating these devices in the atmosphere or ground, but we are still working on advancing the technology. As this is fundamentally weapons research done under the Ageis of clean energy, it has tremendous bipartisan support, and I highly doubt we will ever see funding for it cut.

    1. Cal,

      NIF has always been about nuclear stockpile stewardship. Any other research was just a bonus.

  6. I’m not sure that the NIF is about producing useful energy at all. Isn’t it more about replicating the conditions found in a thermonuclear explosion, but on a vastly smaller scale, in order to eliminate the need for full-scale nuclear weapons tests?

  7. I’m glad to read a post about this because I’ve been thinking the same thing for years. I worked for five years at PBFA-Z at Sandia Labs, another fusion energy driven boondoggle. At least the Z-machine had other uses but it costs millions to run.

    I’m just wondering if you’ve done a recent piece on the Z-machine. The fact that our government funds competing fusion technology development adds yet another layer to your well deserved gripe.

    1. Paul S.: the Z-machine looks like it’s been redirected to an experiment that might actually work (fast liner implosion onto a ~100 eV plasma). This is far more efficient than indirect drive schemes.

      I agree this is unlikely to lead to anything resembling an economical power reactor. I had always thought the goal here was to work toward a pure-fusion tactical weapon with yield approx. the same as the same mass of high explosives, but in neutrons.

  8. I’ve been a little mystified as to why fusion still generates a lot of excitement. I was excited when I first read about it as a teen … in 1968. I had a Physics Post-doc friend when I was in Grad School who said he was getting out of Plasma Physics because it was going nowhere. That was in 1979. The joke ‘it is 20-30 years away … and always will be’ seems to have been the truth.

    Of course some day it may succeed, and It is of some scientific interest, but why is it still accompanied by shouts of ‘it will supply limitless energy’ … so what? It’s obvious that fission will do the same (with U or Th breeders) with technology we know will work. So, why is this exciting in a technological sense?

  9. I’ve just recently discovered your blog, Mr. Adams. You write some interesting stuff about our energy situation.

    Apparently fusion power has become a rent-seeking scam for certain physicists and engineers who have figured out how to string along government funding agencies to keep coming up with more and more money in the absence of useful results. In a rational world, we would have shelved these projects decades ago and stuck with developing better fission power, which has the merit of actually working.

    I turn 53 next month, and it amazes me how many “the future of X” claims I’ve lived to see which haven’t turned out as promised. Along with the failure of fission power, I’ve also witnessed the failures of the manned space age, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. The last one I’ve followed especially closely because of my association with the cryonics movement. I keep pointing out to other cryonicists the nonarrival of anything resembling Eric Drexler’s nano-gadgets which he imagined back in the 1980’s, yet my cryonicist friends resist acknowledging that yet. While some scientists who work in real chemistry, materials science and solid-state physics have appropriated the term “nanotechnology” to sex up research in fields which already had established names, I know other people with STEM degrees who promote Drexler’s fantasies because they can’t do, or don’t want to do, real engineering. So in some respects “nanotechnology” looks like a smaller scale version of the fusion scam.

    1. @Mark

      Along with the failure of fission power…

      I think you meant to write fusion, not fission based on the context of your comment.

      I’m glad you discovered Atomic Insights and hope you keep coming back.

  10. “Bringing Star Power to Earth”

    We already have that.

    It was given to us by anonymous supernovae 10 billion years ago in the form of dense strong-force energy locked into the nuclei of heavy atoms. We discovered how to release it just 70 years ago this December, in Chicago.

  11. “It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try .. ” Mike Dennison
    “You never fail until you stop trying.” Albert Einstein
    If we will don’t able to master fusion, we will get valuable experience from that failure, that can be applied to other areas e.g., there is tested new materials for resistance to radiation and high temperature, this knowledge can be applied to IV generation reactors like very-high-temperature reactor, molten salt reactors and etc.

    1. LANL and LLNL Field Test Divisions mastered D-D and D-T fusion with the Ivy Mike Test of 1952.
      If you will allow a small amount of fissile material to be used, fusion is reliably achieved (first time. every time).

      If you insist that diffuse means be used to ignite the fusion plasma (laser light, microwaves, electric arcs, etc) then things get large, expensive, and unworkable.

      If you permit the high energy density of energy produced from nuclear fission to be used to ignite the fusion plasma, then things get small, and cheap, and routinely reliable.

      PACER fusion using a small amount of fissile material as the plasma igniter just works.

  12. I have mixed feelings on projects like the NIF. On the one hand the money certainly could be better spent on traditional fission programs. On the other, the NIF is a pretty useful too to validate weapon modeling and is going to teach physicists and engineers a lot more about the basic science behind fusion, a lack of basic scientific understanding being something which I believe is severely holding back commercial fusion.

  13. On a related topic, I think smaller investments into innovative fusion projects, like the US Navy’s modest investment into Bussard’s polywell approach, would be much more useful.

  14. When I started building pico-second resolution streak cameras for inertial confinement fusion projects in 1970 my customers believed they would have commercially viable fusion power within 40 years.

    Forty two years later my guess is that we are 100 years away from that goal. Something about pots of gold and rainbows……….and leprechauns.

  15. It is fairly commonplace to be down on those we consider as competition in the process of securing funding and grants; it takes deliberate effort to avoid falling into this.

    For nuclear technology development, $290 million dollars a year is a moderate investment to develop truly revolutionary first of kind nuclear technology. The total NIF project cost at this point is about $3.5 billion dollars, perhaps about half of the current cost of to build a 1GWe AREVA EPR reactor. NIF is out of this world technology that is currently producing real D-T fusion with significant release of neutrons.

    The system is just not yet producing the amount of energy from fusion that is required to heat the target to achieve fusion by NIF laser light. NIF does not yet produce net energy, but all fusion systems in the world including JET and ITER MCF systems also do not produce net energy.

    Rather than griping, I offer the following list of suggestions to the on how to get NIF to work, producing D-T fusion plasma ignition and a Q>1 (more energy from fusion than the power delivered by the NIF lasers to the hohlraum). It is in everyone’s interest to see this project succeed, as it improves the chances of all nuclear technology to receive support and funding. A big NIF failure would only serve to sour Congress on any additional funding for nuclear innovation, fission or fusion. If NIF fails, you will see Congress direct all of the DOE R&D development dollars into renewable energy dreams that will just not pay off for America..

    1) University of Gothenburg, Sweden recently reported occurrence of ultra-dense deuterium as an isothermal transition of Rydberg matter into a high density phase by quantum mechanical exchange forces. It is conjectured that the transition is made possible by the formation of vortices in a Cooper pair electron fluid, separating the electrons from the deuterons, with the deuterons undergoing Bose-Einstein condensation in the core of the vortices. If such a state of deuterium should exist at the reported density of about 130,000 g/cm3, it would greatly facility the ignition of a thermonuclear detonation wave in pure deuterium, by placing the deuterium in a thin disc, to be ignited by the NIF pulsed ultrafast laser.

    2) If the indirect ignited NIF hohlraum do not seem to be working, borrow a capsule-hohlraum from the University of Rochester Omega Laser and try direct ignition instead of indirect ignition of the D-T plasma. . One approach might be to initialize symmetrical heating of the direct ignition Omega Laser capsule with a shaped optical pulse from the NIF laser and then use the onsite LLNL Mercury laser to deliver a short femtosecond burst to produce a hot spot and shock ignition. With direct ignition, more energy should get delivered to the target.

    3) Increase the density of the cryogenic Deuterium-Tritium fuel in the fuel capsule which should improve the chances of producing ignition. Obtain some ultra-dense Deuterium (or alternatively, ultra-dense Deuterium-Tritium cryogenic mixture) from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden and try it in a depleted uranium hohlraum.

    4) Don’t put too much faith in the hohlraum computer simulations (which haven’t worked), just hit the target directly with a balanced symmetrical pulse from a bigger laser by combining the outputs of both the NIF and Mercury lasers existing onsite at LLNL.

    5) Obtain a small amount (nanograms) of anti-matter from Cern held in a circulating ring trap. Use the anti-matter and cryo-Deuterium to produce matter-antimatter annihilation creating the conditions for inertially confined D-T fusion.

    6) (Technician’s Approach) – Install new flash lamps, charge the storage capacitors to max energy, align optics for best symmetry and max power, and take shots as rapidly as NIF can be cycled (about every 8 hours) – hit the hohlraums hard and get lucky.
    7) The guys in NIF have been going pretty hard at it –
    Offer free LLLNL cafeteria meals for NIF electronic, mechanical, and laser optical technicians and supporting technical contractors that have worked over a 12 hour shift while trying to push the NIF ignition campaign over the top.

    Note: Even when things seem to be going against you, some good food (and the LLNL cafeteria is pretty good) helps raise the morale of the troops.

  16. I think I once heard non-bomb fusion described as trying to build a swimming pool with push brooms.

  17. Fusion promises far more interesting advances in other areas besides making money on energy. I surprised and disappointed that this is the overwhelming mindset towards a new and crucial technology. Talk about counterproductive conservative bias.

    We could of course cede it to others with vision.

    Nuclear fusion – your time has come

    Harnessing nuclear fusion to create cheap, safe and sustainable energy used to be a futuristic joke. But its day is almost upon us, ( )

  18. It always strikes me as Orwellian when people casually mention government “subsidies” to the fossil fuel industry, as this article does when comparing the 13 billion euro construction costs of the JET.

    I served aboard a ship built out of an oil drilling platform frame for about a week, and as I was climbing up and down the tiny flight of steel stairs clinging to the wall of one of its six immense legs, I realized that as astoundingly enormous and massive, and as expensive to build, as this one vessel was, the energy its brethren pull out from deep beneath the ocean is far, far more valuable than that.

    Unlike the government paying to build the JET facility, the government doesn’t have to pay Exxon-Mobil to build oil drilling platforms – the platforms PAY FOR THEMSELVES through their own incredible level of productivity.

    So to say that government “subsidizes” fossil fuel companies by letting them keep 55% of their profits instead of only 51% borders on stark raving insanity.

    Governments don’t subsidize the oil industry, the oil industry subsidizes government.

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