Focused Energy partners with LLNL on inertial fusion energy targets

November 10, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Concept art showing inertial fusion ignition. (Image: Focused Energy)

Focused Energy and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have signed a strategic partnership project agreement that will allow LLNL—home of the National Ignition Facility (NIF)—to help the company develop and assess isochoric compression target designs for inertial fusion energy. Focused Energy announced the news on November 7.

Focused Energy and Xcimer Energy: DOE’s inertial fusion pilot picks

June 21, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

Focused Energy and Xcimer Energy are two of the eight fusion developers the Department of Energy selected in late May for funding under the public-private Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program, and the only developers using an inertial confinement concept. The Milestone program, announced in September 2022, was open to any fusion developer willing to undergo a competitive merit-review process, regardless of fusion confinement concept. But the prospects for inertial fusion concepts might have gotten a boost from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s December 2022 achievement of scientific breakeven at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), which was announced shortly before the application window for the Milestone program closed.

DOE celebrates NIF ignition by funding R&D hubs for inertial fusion energy

May 16, 2023, 7:04AMNuclear News
Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm addresses an audience of lab staff, dignitaries, and media at LLNL. (Photo: LLNL)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory hosted current and former staff, government officials, and media on May 8 to celebrate the lab’s achievement of fusion ignition at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) on December 5, 2022. Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and undersecretary for nuclear security and National Nuclear Security Administration administrator Jill Hruby were in attendance, and Granholm took the opportunity to announce funding of up to $45 million to support inertial fusion energy (IFE) research and development. The Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE-SC) wants to establish multiple IFE Science and Technology Innovation Hubs (IFE S&T hubs), with total funding for 2023 of up to $9 million for projects lasting up to four years in duration.

First Light Fusion wants to operate a net gain inertial fusion machine in 2027

January 27, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Nicholas Hawker of First Light Fusion and Ian Chapman of UKAEA. (Photo: UKAEA)

Ignition and net gain at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) in December 2022 focused global attention on the prospects of inertial fusion energy (IFE). First Light Fusion and the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) acknowledged the achievement as they announced plans on January 25 to design and build a demonstration facility known as Machine 4 at UKAEA’s Culham Campus in Oxford, U.K., using First Light’s “projectile approach” to IFE. Construction is expected to begin in 2024, and operations are “likely to commence” in 2027.

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.

One year later: Three peer-reviewed papers tell the story of NIF’s record yield shot

August 11, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
A stylized image of a cryogenic target used in NIF experiments. (Image: James Wickboldt/LLNL)

Just over one year ago, on August 8, 2021, researchers achieved a yield of more than 1.3 megajoules (MJ) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) for the first time, achieving scientific ignition and getting closer to fusion gain.

The scientific results of the historic experiment were published exactly one year later in three peer-reviewed papers: one in Physical Review Letters and two (an experimental paper and a design paper) in Physical Review E. In recognition of the many individuals who worked over decades to enable the ignition milestone, more than 1,000 authors are included on the Physical Review Letters paper.

Burning plasma state achieved at Lawrence Livermore Lab

January 27, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
An illustration of the two inertial confinement fusion designs reaching the burning plasma regime, as published in a recent article in Nature. (Image: LLNL)

One of the last remaining milestones in fusion research before attaining ignition and self-sustaining energy production is creating a burning plasma, where the fusion reactions themselves are the primary source of heating in the plasma. A paper published in the journal Nature on January 26 describes recent experiments at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) that have achieved a burning plasma state.

National Ignition Facility experiment achieves record-breaking yield

August 18, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
A color-enhanced photograph of the NIF target bay. (Photo: LLNL/Damien Jemison)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is celebrating the yield from an experiment at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) of more than 1.3 megajoules of energy—eight times more than the yield from experiments conducted this spring and 25 times more than NIF’s 2018 record yield.

First Light fires first shots from gun built for pulsed fusion

May 17, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News
First Light Fusion CEO Nick Hawker stands near the target end of the 22-meter-long gas gun. (Photo: First Light)

Inside a new steel-clad facility nicknamed “The Citadel,” First Light Fusion has installed a 22-meter two-stage gas gun—the third-largest such component in Europe.