There is a new collaboration which will involve the STFC-led High Power Laser Energy Research Facility (HiPER), AWE’s Orion laser facility, and the National Ignition Facility (NIF), hosted by LLNL (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). The ultimate aim is to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of laser fusion as a source of commercial energy production.
Laser fusion produces much higher temperature and pressures (than magnetic fusion), so fusion occurs faster, and the plasma must be confined for only billionths of a second.
By the end of 2012, Livermore hopes to reach ignition by producing more energy from fusion than is needed to generate the laser pulse. Livermore’s hopes to build a plant delivering about 440 megawatts of electricity within a decade and a full-scale versions that follow would deliver about 1000 megawatts. It would be a hybrid fusion-fission plant. The commercialization of laser fusion has not been funded yet.