AI can predict and prevent fusion plasma instabilities in milliseconds

March 4, 2024, 2:59PMNuclear News
The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. (Photo: PPPL)

A team of engineers, physicists, and data scientists from Princeton University and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have used artificial intelligence (AI) to predict—and then avoid—the formation of a specific type of plasma instability in magnetic confinement fusion tokamaks. The researchers built and trained a model using past experimental data from operations at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego, Calif., before proving through real-time experiments that their model could forecast so-called tearing mode instabilities up to 300 milliseconds in advance—enough time for an AI controller to adjust operating parameters and avoid a tear in the plasma that could potentially end the fusion reaction.

From “never” to now: NIF through the lens of 60 Minutes

January 23, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
NIF in winter (Photo: LLNL)

“Star Power” is the name 60 Minutes producers gave their interpretation of the recent experiment at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) that achieved fusion ignition and net gain. Views from inside Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory captured by TV cameras and aired Sunday, January 15—of some of NIF’s 192 lasers, banks of capacitors, target assembly labs, and even the remains of the target assembly blasted in the December 5 breakthrough—are well worth the watch for those of us who are unlikely to visit the site in person.

Current and former LLNL staffers plan for inertial fusion energy after record shot

December 20, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
A color-enhanced image of the inside of a NIF preamplifier support structure. (Image: LLNL/Damien Jemison)

On December 5, researchers at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory achieved fusion energy breakeven. It was a gain for stockpile stewardship that also—as headlines gushed prior to the Department of Energy’s December 13 announcement—boosted the prospects of inertial fusion energy (IFE). The timing of the landmark achievement may have been especially welcome to private fusion companies with inertial or hybrid magneto-inertial confinement concepts, because it occurred as the DOE was getting ready to consider applications for $50 million in funding for fusion pilot plant design work.

Breakeven breakthrough at the National Ignition Facility

December 13, 2022, 3:02PMNuclear News
The target chamber of LLNL’s NIF, where 192 laser beams delivered more than 2 million joules of ultraviolet energy to a tiny fuel pellet to create fusion ignition on December 5, 2022.

It’s official: Early in the morning on December 5 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF), the laser-triggered implosion of a meticulously engineered capsule of deuterium and tritium about the size of a peppercorn yielded, for the first time on Earth, more energy from a fusion reaction than was delivered to the capsule. The input of 2.05 megajoules (MJ) to the target heated the diamond-shelled, spherical capsule to over 3 million degrees Celsius and yielded 3.15 MJ of fusion energy output. The achievement was announced earlier today by officials and scientists representing the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration, the White House, and LLNL during a livestreamed event.

TAE Technologies secures investments to fund fusion research reactor

July 21, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Copernicus, TAE’s sixth-generation fusion reactor. (Image: TAE)

California-based TAE Technologies has announced that its accomplishments with its fifth-generation fusion research reactor, Norman, have allowed it to secure sufficient strategic and institutional investments to fund the construction of its sixth-generation research reactor, Copernicus.