Scaling NIF Laser Fusion to 2030

This is a summary of the information from the Inertial Fusion Science and Applications 2023 conference and the presentations and announcements from Lawrence Livermore National Labs and the National Ignition facility.

There is already an article with more details on the scaling plans.

The July 30, 2023 result already improved already got 23% more power out than the December, 2022 ignition shot.
The system is ready to run with 8% more laser power today. The actual first shot at the new 2.2 MJ (megajoule) level should be in November, 2023.

There is the Fraustrum target. At some point switching to this new target could double the gain.

There will be several shots at the 2.2 MJ level from 2023-2025. These tests could achieve 2.6- to6 X gain. The higher gain would need the new Fraustrum target, other target improvements.

The NIF systems can have power increased to 2.6 MJ without a major overhaul. They have the new glass and other components and have run tests that have indicated that powering to as much as 2.6MJ is doable.

The key plots show that 2.6 MJ could achieve 10-26 MJ of power which would be 4-10X gain.

Upgrading to 3.0MJ laser power would take more upgrades but could deliver 10-20X gain. This would be well on the way to proving the 100-200X science gain that is believed to be needed for viable commercial fusion reactor designs. There would also need to be rapid fire improvements and many other developments to realize commercial fusion. This will be discussed in other articles on the plans of various commercial fusion companies.

3 thoughts on “Scaling NIF Laser Fusion to 2030”

  1. Progress is interesting, but still orders of magnitude away from commercial usefulness, and Helion are likely only a year or two away from putting electricity into the grid.

  2. NIF is a wild place. I was there on a visit in 2018 or so. Tim Fraizer was the CIO and took a picture of me in front of the Dantes detector.

    It wasn’t designed to get net gain fusion. It was designed for research. They’ve done a lot of great research there. It’s up to industry to commercialize it.

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