This video is about the National Ignition Facility, more details in previous post, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, employing the largest bank of laser beams in the world, to be used in an experiment designed to create fusion ignition, a potential clean energy source for the 21st century. The $3.5 billion complex is under construction and expected to start full operations in 2009.
Scientists are creating a system to replicate fusion by using lasers to create the high heat and pressure needed for fusion. At the center of the project is a gold cylinder the size of a dime. This gold cylinder, called the hohlraum, houses a capsule containing the hydrogen isotopes – the fuel for the fusion reaction. NIF scientists will blast the hohlraum with 192 laser beams simultaneously (containing a total of 1.8 million joules of energy, about 500 trillion watts) for a few billionths of a second. The cylinder will produce x-rays that compress and heat the capsule resulting in a nuclear fusion reaction.
This experiment is not a continuous fusion reactor, it is an experimental device designed to determine whether scientists can create a fusion reaction for an instant of time, using this method. It does not produce any continuous output as ITER is designed to, It is one of the first major steps designed to see if lasers can be used to create fusion.
The ITER Tokamak, a $13 billion magnetic containment device, is based on totally different technology and would be the first fusion device to produce thermal energy at levels equivalent to conventional electricity power plants.
Several other containment devices are being tested throughout the world, in an attempt to develop a device that is superior to that used in ITER. The technology used in ITER is the most advanced and thus was selected for use in that ground breaking experiment.
Thanks to Lauren Sommer of KQED for the tip