Feb 12, 2014

Inertially confined fusion implosion, more energy out of the fuel than what was put into

For the first time anywhere, we've gotten more energy out of the fuel than what was put into the fuel" for a nuclear fusion experiment. This is reported by the Wall Street Journal and other sources from a paper published in the Journal Nature by researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Lab

"What's really exciting is that we are seeing a steadily increasing contribution to the yield coming from the boot-strapping process we call alpha-particle self-heating as we push the implosion a little harder each time," said lead author Omar Hurricane.

Boot-strapping results when alpha particles, helium nuclei produced in the deuterium-tritium (DT) fusion process, deposit their energy in the DT fuel, rather than escaping. The alpha particles further heat the fuel, increasing the rate of fusion reactions, thus producing more alpha particles. This feedback process is the mechanism that leads to ignition. As reported in Nature, the boot-strapping process has been demonstrated in a series of experiments in which the fusion yield has been systematically increased by more than a factor of 10 over previous approaches

Nature - Fuel gain exceeding unity in an inertially confined fusion implosion
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