How was the historic feat of putting the finishing touches on the realization of nuclear fusion power generation achieved? -GIGAZINE

by Sam Portelli

Nuclear fusion power generation uses hydrogen instead of fossil fuels, and it emits helium, which has high utility value in the industrial field, instead of greenhouse gases and radioactive waste. The scientists who led the experiment looked back on the process and significance of the success of the important experiment that brought such a step closer to the realization of nuclear fusion power generation.

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Three peer-reviewed papers highlight scientific results of National Ignition Facility record yield shot | Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will focus 192 lasers on fuel pellets made of deuterium and tritium to create a nuclear fusion reaction on August 8, 2021.laser fusionWe succeeded in generating 1.3 megajoules of energy. This experiment attracted attention not only for the energy generated, but also for the significant progress toward achieving the process of "ignition" necessary for the practical use of nuclear fusion power generation.

Succeeded in producing 1 quintillion watts of energy with laser fusion, making great progress toward the practical application of nuclear fusion power generation - GIGAZINE

The research team that successfully conducted this experiment published a total of three peer-reviewed papers summarizing the results on August 8, 2022, one year after the experiment. More than 1,000 authors are listed in the papers published in Physical Review Letters, tributing many researchers who have contributed over the years to the establishment of the historical record. .

Omar Hurricane of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said of the experiment a year ago, "August 2021's record shot is a major scientific breakthrough in fusion research, and fusion ignition in the laboratory is Achieving the conditions necessary for ignition is proof that it is possible for allinertial confinement fusionA long-standing goal for research, alpha particlesself heatingThis opens the door to a new area of ​​experimentation in which the temperature exceeds all mechanisms that cool the fusion plasma."

The paper presented this time also describes trial and error until the experiment was successful. According to Alex Zylstra, lead author of one of the three papers, two experiments have been conducted in 2020 and early 2021 before the experiment in August 2021. Zylstra says that repeated improvements based on the results of those experiments were the key to the success of the August 2021 experiment.

In addition, Annie Kritcher, the first author of the other paper, especially improved the container called "horum" so that an efficient reaction occurred, raised the quality of the fuel capsule, He said that miniaturizing the fuel-filled tube led to the success of the experiment.

Subsequent retests did not produce an energy yield that matched the 1.3 megajoules recorded in the August 2021 experiment, but all the experiments were between 430 and 700 kilojoules, the previous high. Yields well in excess of 170 kilojoules have been observed. Based on the knowledge gained from these experiments, scientists continue to improve lasers, targets, experimental methods, etc., and are making steady progress toward the realization of nuclear fusion.

Regarding the significance of the experiment, Mr. Hurricane said, ``It is very exciting to be able to 'prove the existence' of ignition in the laboratory. , which is a great opportunity to expand our knowledge as we continue to move forward."

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