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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.”

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its been "tantalizingly close" for going on 50 years now. Any minute!!

Anonymous said...

Just a few more billion for NIF and another decade or two and they'll get there. Promise!

Anonymous said...

This quest put a heavy burden on other Lab programs, activities, and overhead by sucking off dollars and resources disproportionately. The least NIF can do, is deliver. That would be "tantalizingly fair."

Anonymous said...

Doesn't a thermonuclear weapon put out more enery than is input?

Anonymous said...

We've made three orders of magnitude improvement and only have two more to go!

Anonymous said...

It might be worth considering that Parney didn't create this monster, but he is now in charge of feeding it. To some extent NIF likely will make or break his tenure as Director, since LLNL hitched a big chunk of their future to this project. It looks like more and more weapons work is leaving LANL for LLNL and that should help out in the balance.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't a thermonuclear weapon put out more enery than is input?

July 13, 2012 9:07 PM

So does a simple handgun cartridge, or for that matter a log set fire by a match. Nothing special there. But nobody ever counts the total energy it took to manufacture it, just like nukes.

Anonymous said...

The NIF may be two orders of magnitude below breakeven, but where is the "burn"...

There are no measurable fission products in the shot chamber?

Anonymous said...

"It looks like more and more weapons work is leaving LANL for LLNL and that should help out in the balance." (5:52 AM)


Yes, you can thank LLNL Alumni Charlie McMillan for all that additional work coming from LANL. He and his LANS LLC team seem to love throwing out huge chunks of weapons funding from Los Alamos and then getting rid of large segments of the LANL workforce once the funding has left the lab.

Anonymous said...

LAB CLOSE TO IGNITION -- Parney was apparently TOO close to Tomas office

Anonymous said...

There are no measurable fission products in the shot chamber?


In honor of Tomas, I couldn't resist.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that one of the least understood parts of the ignition mechanism is the laser-surface interaction. I'm sure that a program as large as this employed a process for documenting and reducing uncertainties (for example, model uncertainties).

Didn't Tomas hire who he considered to be the top laser surface interaction researchers in the world to help deal with this issue? Maybe performing due diligence on those researchers and their trail of published research can shed light on what their approach was to deal with the increasing model complexity (if at all) or whether it was swept under the rug.

I'm sure one can go through all of the scientific committee reviews and their recommendations, and then perform due diligence to see if the reviews might have been missing something, or whether the recommendations weren't followed, or were misunderstood, or whatever.

It sounds like a good ole fashioned GAO investigation is warranted here.

Anonymous said...

GAO GAO GAO!!!

Anonymous said...

Also analysis of the evidence used to support progress in this work (e.g., the computer simulations, experimental measurements, etc.) should be evaluated by outside experts. Maybe there are unwarranted assumptions, incorrectly performed error analysis, programming errors, or some other problems, leading to unreliable results that were mistakenly used to support unwarranted conclusions about the feasibility of certain steps in the project. There should be enough smart people out there to determine root cause for the alpha heating milestone failure.

Anonymous said...

There should be enough smart people out there to determine root cause for the alpha heating milestone failure.

July 16, 2012 4:05 PM

Sure, they are at Los Alamos. Unfortunately, one peep out these folks and Knapp will run them over with his Porsche Cayenne. Oh come on! Jas Mercer-Smith has been touting for years that "NIF has no value to weapons program and will never achieve ignition".

Anonymous said...

Yes, you can thank LLNL Alumni Charlie McMillan for all that additional work coming from LANL. He and his LANS LLC team seem to love throwing out huge chunks of weapons funding from Los Alamos and then getting rid of large segments of the LANL workforce once the funding has left the lab.

July 16, 2012 12:41 AM

There's a rumor at Los Alamos that McMillion was rewarded with a $1,000,000 bonus for "pulling off" the VRIP.

Anonymous said...

Oh you must be referring to Tomas. You are in the wrong thread.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on! Jas Mercer-Smith has been touting for years that "NIF has no value to weapons program and will never achieve ignition".

July 16, 2012 5:44 PM

Jas Mercer-Smith. Now there's a guy with some credibility. Anyone know what his publication record is in peer reviewed journals?

Anonymous said...

A 1M payoff is less than 2K per head reduced. If correct, might have been a good business decision.

Anonymous said...

Jas Mercer-Smith. Now there's a guy with some credibility. Anyone know what his publication record is in peer reviewed journals?

July 17, 2012 4:33 AM

Wrong criteria for a weapons researcher. If they are publishing in peer-reviewed journals, they aren't doing actual weapons work. If "weapons research" is useful, it is classified.

Anonymous said...

Wait, 4:33AM is referring only to "open peer-reviewed journals," correct? Good weapons researchers have avenues for racking up peer-reviewed publications on their CV. We're really talking about "those" papers, no?

Anonymous said...

Publication record in peer reviewed journals?

I am always reassured when Curly and Larry tell me that Moe is doing great work.

Anonymous said...

Wrong criteria for a weapons researcher. If they are publishing in peer-reviewed journals, they aren't doing actual weapons work. If "weapons research" is useful, it is classified.

July 19, 2012 1:10 PM

Oh, BS! This is just an excuse. Why didn't this rule apply to Hans Bethe, Feynman, Teller, Lawrence, Von Neumann, Fermi, .....

Fact is, I met Hans Bethe and Jas Mercer-Smith is no Ed Teller!

Anonymous said...

Oh, BS! This is just an excuse. Why didn't this rule apply to Hans Bethe, Feynman, Teller, Lawrence, Von Neumann, Fermi, .....

July 21, 2012 5:43 AM

Apples and oranges. Those guys never published weapons work, and never published during the short time they did weapons work. They weren't career weapons scientists.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that if they cite the hiccups at CERN several times in a speech to Congress they should be able to milk NIF for at least another year or two with a 10-15% budget cut. Bet you that's what they're planning.

Murat Çabuk said...

first laser ignition fusion 11th december 2012 llnl

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