NY Times – the National Ignition Facility, uses 192 lasers to fire light beams at tiny targets, smaller than peppercorns, filled with hydrogen atoms. After spending more than $5 billion to build and operate a giant laser installation the size of a football stadium, the Energy Department has not achieved its goal of igniting a fusion reaction that could produce energy to generate power or simulate what happens in a nuclear weapon.
The latest deadline for achieving ignition was last Sunday, Sept. 30, the end of fiscal year 2012, but it passed amid mounting concerns that the technical challenges were too great to be mastered on a tight time schedule.
There is a sharp split among experts on whether the project — one of the most expensive federally financed projects ever — is worth the money. Just operating it costs roughly $290 million a year.
NBF – There seem to be other more cost effective options for achieving abundant clean energy.
I would increase funds Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, EMC2 Fusion, Helion Energy, an ultrahigh frequency laser option proposed by Chapman of NASA, various options for deep burn nuclear fission.
There should be underground nuclear bomb tests and nuclear bombs can be used for underground nuclear cannons for launching unmanned payloads into space.
Even if ignition is achieved in the laboratory in the next several years, scaling up to a demonstration plant will cost billions and may ultimately show that fusion is not a practical source of power.
The fallback argument — that laser fusion allows scientists to simulate conditions at the core of a nuclear explosion and verify the reliability of the nation’s nuclear stockpile without having to test a weapon — is disputed by some experts who think the stockpile will be reliable for decades.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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