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.

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.