Two approaches to confining the plasma have dominated: magnetic and inertial confinement
. Magnetic confinement uses the electrical conductivity of the plasma to contain it with magnetic fields.
The $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory uses inertial confinement
, but has fallen short.
In an inertial confinement
reactor, about 200 laser beams are focused in the target chamber, which is also called a hohlraum, on a single point.
(http://www.generalfusion.com/) General Fusion , a 13-year-old startup in Vancouver, Canada, is building a reactor that will combine two prominent fusion technologies: the magnet system used in ITER, and "inertial confinement
fusion," which involves firing dozens of giant lasers at a container holding hydrogen to compress and fuse it.
It uses National Ignition Facility's laser beam for inertial confinement
fusion followed by utilizing the power from tubular solid fuel cell.
As the NIF Director, Herrmann will work closely with the leadership of the Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP) across the weapons complex including the national Inertial Confinement
Fusion (ICF) Program, as well as the National Security Applications and Discovery Science communities in the United States and globally, to ensure optimal use of the facility and delivery on program goals.
Magnetic confinement fusion uses magnetic fields to trap the fuel in a magnetic 'bottle,' and inertial confinement
fusion heats the surface of the fuel pellet until it blows off in a way that causes the remaining pellet to implode.
The density and temperatures are chosen so that the their values are close to initial conditions of an inertial confinement
fusion fuel at ignition moment.
This work reviews the science of nuclear fusion from the development of the basic scientific ideas concerning the role of fusion in the Sun and other stars to the current progress towards achieving human-controlled fusion energy, covering both the magnetic confinement approach towards insulating hot nuclear fuel with magnetic fields and the newer inertial confinement
approach that seeks to capture the fusion energy before the hot fuel has had a chance to expand.
They are not working on the well-publicised magnetic confinement approach to nuclear fusion which is building a facility called Iter in France but instead are preparing for inertial confinement
fusion, or "laser energy" as it is sometimes called.
Recommendation: To address the scientific and technical challenges and management weaknesses, and to enhance the NIC review committee's effectiveness, the Administrator of NNSA should direct the Director of the Office of Inertial Confinement
Fusion and National Ignition Facility Project to have the NIC review committee report to, and receive direction from, NNSA's Director of the Office of Inertial Confinement
Fusion and National Ignition Facility Project on its review activities, instead of reporting to Lawrence Livermore's laboratory Director.