The long-range goal of the Z-Pinch IFE program is to produce an economically-attractive power plant using high-yield z-pinch-driven targets (~3GJ) with low rep-rate per chamber (~0.1 Hz). The present mainline choice for a Z-Pinch IFE power plant uses an LTD (Linear Transformer Driver) repetitive pulsed power driver, a Recyclable Transmission Line (RTL), a dynamic hohlraum z-pinch-driven target, and a thick-liquid wall chamber. The RTL connects the pulsed power driver directly to the z-pinch-driven target, and is made from frozen coolant or a material that is easily separable from the coolant (such as carbon steel). The RTL is destroyed by the fusion explosion, but the RTL materials are recycled, and a new RTL is inserted on each shot.
A development path for Z-Pinch IFE has been created that complements and leverages the NNSA DP ICF program. Funding by a U.S. Congressional initiative of $4M for FY04 through NNSA DP is supporting assessment and initial research on (1) RTLs, (2) repetitive pulsed power drivers, (3) shock mitigation [because of the high yield targets], (4) planning for a proof-of-principle full RTL cycle demonstration [with a 1 MA, 1 MV, 100 ns, 0.1 Hz driver], (5) IFE target studies for multi-GJ yield targets, and (6) z-pinch IFE power plant engineering and technology development. Initial results from all areas of this research are discussed.