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Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Parney: Lab close to ignition
Anonymously contributed: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Weapons Complex Morning Briefing July 11, 2012 LLNL Director: Despite Missed Milestone, Lab ‘Tantalizingly Close’ to Ignition Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director Parney Albright defended the laboratory’s quest to achieve fusion ignition in a memo to senior laboratory officials Monday, suggesting that the lab should get more time to pursue the challenging scientific breakthrough. Albright’s memo comes on the heels of revelations last week that the National Ignition Facility missed a key ignition milestone and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s admission that the facility was “unlikely” to achieve ignition by the expected target date of Sept. 30. Suggesting that lab officials had made significant progress in the three-year ignition campaign, Albright estimated that the lab was 75 percent of the way to achieving ignition, but conceded that it might be another two years before that goal is reached. “A year ago, most external reviewers of NIF believed that it would take up to three years of high quality experiments to either achieve ignition or fully explore the ignition regime offered by the NIF laser as currently configured,” Albright said in the memo. “We have regularly been doing these high quality experiments for only about a year. So, the data and progress to date show that we should continue the current vigorous investigation of ignition before making any decision about next steps.” Albright highlighted the fact that NIF laser operated on July 5 at 1.8 million joules and 500 trillion watts for the first time. That represents the power needed to achieve ignition, but laboratory officials have thus far been flummoxed by inconsistencies between predictions of how the capsule will implode and the actual results of experiments. He said that experiments this summer will focus on meeting the “alpha heating” milestone that the lab missed in June, which is viewed as a necessary stepping stone to achieving ignition. “Based on all the data taken to date, we are tantalizingly close and have found no fundamental reasons that would preclude us from achieving ignition. We could have major successes in the next few months or it might be longer. In either case, the timescale is short compared to the 50-year journey we have been on.”
Posted by scooby at 5:34 PM
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