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Timely Delivery of Laser Inertial Fusion Energy (LIFE)

M. Dunne et al.

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 60 / Number 1 / July 2011 / Pages 19-27


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The National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world's largest and most energetic laser system, is now operational at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. A key goal of the NIF is to demonstrate fusion ignition for the first time in the laboratory. Its flexibility allows multiple target designs (both indirect and direct drive) to be fielded, offering substantial scope for optimization of a robust target design.

In this paper we discuss an approach to generating gigawatt levels of electrical power from a laser-driven source of fusion neutrons based on these demonstration experiments. This “LIFE” concept enables rapid time-to-market for a commercial power plant, assuming success with ignition and a technology demonstration program that links directly to a facility design and construction project.

The LIFE design makes use of recent advances in diode-pumped, solid-state laser technology. It adopts the paradigm of Line Replaceable Units utilized on the NIF to provide high levels of availability and maintainability and mitigate the need for advanced materials development.

A demonstration LIFE plant based on these design principles is described, along with the areas of technology development required prior to plant construction.

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