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First Use of Tritium at the National Ignition Facility

Sandra J. Brereton et al.

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 60 / Number 3 / October 2011 / Pages 879-884


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The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is the world's largest and most powerful laser system for inertial confinement fusion (ICF) and experiments studying high energy density (HED) science. NIF is a 192- beam, Nd-glass laser facility that is capable of producing 1.8 MJ, 500 TW of ultraviolet light, making it over fifty times more energetic than other existing ICF facilities. The NIF Project began in 1995 and completed in 2009. Ignition experiments using tritium on NIF have just commenced. Tritium arrives at the facility in individual fuel reservoirs that are mounted and connected to a target on the Cryogenic TARget POSitioner (TARPOS). CryoTARPOS provides the cryogenic cooling systems necessary to complete the formation of the ignition target's fuel ice layer, as well as the positioning system that transports and holds the target at the center of the NIF chamber during a shot. After a shot, unburned tritium is captured by the target chamber cryopumps. Upon regeneration, the cryopump effluent is directed to the Tritium Processing System, where elemental tritium is oxidized and captured on molecular sieve. Additional systems supporting tritium operations include area and stack tritium monitoring systems, local ventilation for contamination control, and a decontamination area that includes fume hoods and walk-in enclosures for working on contaminated components. This equipment has been used along with standard contamination control practices to manage the tritium hazard to workers and to limit releases to the environment to negligibly small amounts.

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