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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

National Ignition Facility seeks new cash

National Ignition Facility seeks new cash
David Perlman
San Francisco Chronicle
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The elusive effort to mimic the explosive violence of hydrogen bombs inside Livermore's giant National Ignition Facility, long delayed, now faces intense scrutiny by a dollar-conscious Congress.

The National Nuclear Security Agency in charge of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory says in a draft report to Congress that the lab's scientists should conduct at least three more years of experiments. An estimated $5 billion or more has been spent over the past 10 years to build and run the project called NIF, and current experiments are running at least $450 million a year.

Congress had set the end of this year as the deadline for "ignition," as the goal is termed. Now the nuclear agency's report says the extension is needed for NIF scientists to consider two very different and untried technical approaches to the extraordinarily complex physics problems that have prevented them so far from achieving their goal of duplicating the explosion of an H-bomb in the lab.

Congressional experts are reviewing the report and some are highly skeptical about its eventual success. The final report from the nuclear security agency is expected early next week, when congressional staff specialists will begin considering its implications for NIF's future.

NIF's goal is still "very, very far away," said one congressional expert who follows the technical details closely. The expert, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the project, complained that the nuclear agency appears to be asking Congress for a "blank check" until at least 2015.

"They're asking us to give them a blank check ... and then we'd see where we are," the expert said. "That worries me. They're not even close."

The ultimate aim of NIF's nuclear weapons scientists is to understand the obscure physics involved in thermonuclear fusion, validate related computer codes, and thereby assure the safety and reliability of America's aging weapons stockpile without the underground bomb tests that are now banned by international treaty...

But after 35 experiments and more than 1,000 laser shots since NIF scientists began three years ago, the effort has fallen short. In order to achieve ignition, the laser beams would have to produce between three and 10 times more energy and heat than they have been able to accomplish, the report said.

Just where the problems lie remains a mystery. A national committee of laser experts headed by Stanford physicist Robert L. Byer recently had high praise for the NIF laser's "robust operation" and said it has "met and exceeded its design goals." The NIF scientists, the committee concluded, are on a credible path toward upgrading the laser array to reach the energies needed for ignition...

NIF project director Ed Moses declined to comment on the report until its final version is complete. But he said it's impossible to make predictions about success in any field where such complex science is involved...

In experiments so far, the laser shots fired at target after target have yielded pressures 15o billion times Earth's atmosphere, he said, but pressures twice as high are still needed for ignition...

But NIF's giant laser array is now performing spectacularly, he said, and its total output of energy and power is "more than we need," Moses said.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sooo... they are already talking about upgrades to NIF.

While this appears to address the ignition goal, readers should refer to the "deuterium EOS" thread for additional pertinent information on the stockpile stewardship goals.

Anonymous said...

The lies used to support the NIF boondoggle have to stop sometime.

With the budget about to go over the fiscal cliff, might as well put NIF on the chopping block with everything else. It's more than earned a huge chop.

Anonymous said...

December 5, 2012 6:02 PM Agreed, 50% is good round number and of course this means all support groups too.

Anonymous said...

In 1905 the internal combustion engine produced 2 hp/L with a compression ration of 5:1

Today the latest Corvette produces about 125 hp/L with a 11.5:1 compression ratio.

I think advances in target configuration and tailoring the laser input pulses will be the key. And some young post-doc will someday get the Nobel Prize for solving the problem.

Nice to have the right tools in place to do the job.

Anonymous said...


High Performance Fusion Plant of the Future = Corvette

Facility Reaching Break Even = First Internal Combustion Engine

NIF in its current form = (You Fill In The Blank).


Anonymous said...

NIF in its current form = Smoke and Mirrors Machine, Part Deux

Anonymous said...

Byers is correct to praise the engineering and operational elements of the facility. Indeed, Ed Moses did a fantastic job in coordinating a very complex build.

However, Byers should be very careful about what he says about the technical merit and approaches. The quality of data and publications coming out of the facility and previous efforts using similar approaches is questionable and riddled with problems. We will see how comprehensive his due diligence is and how his findings support his conclusions and recommendations. Otherwise, the community will also be happy to correct him after his report is finalized, though that would not reflect well on him if it has to resort to this.

Osamequin said...

Interesting development for di-electric conductivity posted on phys.org. With laser stimulation you can get momentary near-superconductivity in a non-conducting material. Some new transistors at NIF might be useful.

Anonymous said...

High Performance Fusion Plant of the Future = Corvette

Facility Reaching Break Even = First Internal Combustion Engine

NIF in its current form = (You Fill In The Blank). A pipe dream that is not meeting todays need as an immediate alternative source of energy and will not for decades, or maybe even centuries to come.

As a nation we are putting our tax dollars in the wrong area. We should be concentrating on power from wind, solar, geothermal and wave plans all of which need to be plugged into a central buss and keep right on moving forward until every a single square foot of desert lands are covered with solar tracking arrays.

You want to make jobs for people for the next 100 + years, here’s your answer. Not projects like NIF or LIFE… MFE, etc

We know all we need to know about weapons and how to build them. Now its time to move on to what important to the nation and its future.

Anonymous said...

High Performance Fusion Plant of the Future = Corvette

Facility Reaching Break Even = First Internal Combustion Engine

NIF in its current form = (You Fill In The Blank). A pipe dream that is not meeting todays need as an immediate alternative source of energy and will not for decades, or maybe even centuries to come.

As a nation we are putting our tax dollars in the wrong area. We should be concentrating on power from wind, solar, geothermal and wave plans all of which need to be plugged into a central buss and keep right on moving forward until every a single square foot of desert lands are covered with solar tracking arrays.

You want to make jobs for people for the next 100 + years, here’s your answer. Not projects like NIF or LIFE… MFE, etc

We know all we need to know about weapons and how to build them. Now its time to move on to what important to the nation and its future.

Anonymous said...

Omega is a very attractive option if NNSA is going to pursue research in support of laser-based fusion. It is a comparatively inexpensive facility with regards to fixed and ongoing costs, and the feasibility for capability upgrades has been well-established. In addition, it can support many of the experiments that are relevant to NNSA's needs, while at the same time, being able to produce world-class publications in its continued role as a user-facility for the scientific community. Omega has a very long history of supporting research and development in many different areas. It is not exclusively tied to a single or few applications, and there are numerous examples of how Omega supports the scientific community very broadly.

Anonymous said...

The facetious response by December 6, 2012 3:30 PM ironically supports that next post describing Omega and it's capability. If we're so far off from ignition, then Omega is indeed the way to go, and it would not require abandoning the long-term pursuit of eventual ignition and fusion energy.

Anonymous said...

December 6, 2012 3:30 PM

I was wondering when someone was going to recognize where all the waste was, which way to turn and how to make job. No, Omega is not the answer. Enery now, using technolgies we currently have and can make improvements on is the answer.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Omega (or any other facility) is not the answer for fusion energy. Omega is a platform for scientific research, and that mission is clearly understood.

Anonymous said...

As a nation .. We should be concentrating on power from wind, solar,..

Of course you can put your money whereever you like. I choose to buy oil and gas from North Dakota shale cause it has the lowest cost and will be available for 100 years.

As for the $ that the Obamanation takes from me for both of these purposes, my vote is the return them to me, or alternatively use the $ to reduce the national debt.

The need R&D into alternative fuels is mooted by the development of oil shale output.

Anonymous said...

Nice try throwing in "Obama" to distract our attention from the NIF scandal.

Anonymous said...

December 7, 2012 11:52 AM

My vote is to get the entire socialist democratic party abolished off the face of the earth, the US out of the UN and it's building turned into a apartment complex. Now that would be a good begining to get this country going in the right direction

Anonymous said...

We need to begin thinking about setting up colonies on the moon, and work through legal issues regarding property rights and sovereignty.

Anonymous said...

The moon is a native American colony.

Anonymous said...

Basel III (or the Third Basel Accord) is a global regulatory standard on bank capital adequacy, stress testing and market liquidity risk agreed upon by the members of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in 2010–11, and scheduled to be introduced from 2013 until 2018.[1][2] The third installment of the Basel Accords (see Basel I, Basel II) was developed in response to the deficiencies in financial regulation revealed by the late-2000s financial crisis. Basel III strengthens bank capital requirements and introduces new regulatory requirements on bank liquidity and bank leverage. The OECD estimates that the implementation of Basel III will decrease annual GDP growth by 0.05–0.15%.[3][4] Critics suggest that greater regulation is responsible for the slow recovery from the late-2000s financial crisis,[5][6] and that the Basel III requirements will increase the incentives of banks to game the regulatory framework, which could further negatively affect the stability of the financial system.[7]

Basel III will require banks to hold 4.5% of common equity (up from 2% in Basel II) and 6% of Tier I capital (up from 4% in Basel II) of risk-weighted assets (RWA). Basel III also introduces additional capital buffers, (i) a mandatory capital conservation buffer of 2.5% and (ii) a discretionary countercyclical buffer, which allows national regulators to require up to another 2.5% of capital during periods of high credit growth. In addition, Basel III introduces a minimum 3% leverage ratio and two required liquidity ratios. The Liquidity Coverage Ratio requires a bank to hold sufficient high-quality liquid assets to cover its total net cash outflows over 30 days; the Net Stable Funding Ratio requires the available amount of stable funding to exceed the required amount of stable funding over a one-year period of extended stress.[8]

Anonymous said...

My vote is to get the entire socialist democratic party abolished off the face of the earth, the US out of the UN and it's building turned into a apartment complex. Now that would be a good begining to get this country going in the right direction

December 7, 2012 12:42 PM

Which would be huntin n fishin, Right?

Anonymous said...

"Basel III (or the Third Basel Accord)..."

Basil! . . . Basil! . . . Basil! . . .

Anonymous said...

All Livermorons should post random stuff to prevent the truth from being discussed. Not to worry, we'll correlate your messages with your IP and publish information regarding your activities using government resources.

Anonymous said...

All Livermorons should post random stuff to prevent the truth from being discussed. Not to worry, we'll correlate your messages with your IP and publish information regarding your activities using government resources.

Anonymous said...

Yeah we'll give them a real reason to fire you when time comes for the sequestration.

Anonymous said...

Especially when people IN THE LAB are reading and posting... and lots of deceptive stuff too..... hmmmmmm

Anonymous said...

This blog should be renamed "All NIF, All the Time"!

Anonymous said...

But Why? Obama goes with everything!

Anonymous said...

Well... this thread is about NIF...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
All Livermorons should post random stuff to prevent the truth from being discussed. Not to worry, we'll correlate your messages with your IP and publish information regarding your activities using government resources.

December 7, 2012 8:44 PM

I guess that's good for a 50% reduction in force at LANL and LLNL? People come here because this is where they get more information that anyone at these two facilities would ever tell the workers or for that matter the public. Personally I'm glad this blog is here and I support Scooby Doo 120% for overseeing it. It is my hopes everyone comes here and everyone has a say. I think 99% of all the people who come here know we're spending the tax dollars in the wrong places and on the wrong projects. The other 1% as just mad LLNL got more attention than LANL where one accomplished nothing and the other one basically is no longer needed. Believe me people, those in DC are going to someday wake up, funnel the money where it needs to be and both facilities are going to get hit really hard. I'm just amazed it takes then more than an eye blink to get it done regardless of the consequences. Personally I think it all about keeping people employed and getting re-elected is all they care about. Common sense is non-existent.

Anonymous said...

". . . Not to worry, we'll correlate your messages with your IP and publish information regarding your activities using government resources."

Do you normally threaten people on an anonymous Blog if the conversation does follow your thinking?

Anonymous said...

... does not follow your thinking?

Anonymous said...

Yup. Sucks to be you.

Anonymous said...

You people at the lab shouldn't be using government resources to screw around on the internet and sharing your strange content to the world on blogs anyways. You should know better. If you get in trouble for it, it's entirely your fault.

Anonymous said...

What idiots!
It is Sat. You morons!
What makes you think that all replies to this Blog are from Lab employees on Lab time?

"Yup, must Suck to be You!"

Anonymous said...

Well duh. Of course most comes out of the lab on weekdays. But not all.

Anonymous said...

The really bad offenders seem to have wisened up a few weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

Dear Scoobs,

Please retitle this thread,

Bitchiness between underinformed LANL and LLNL cheering squads

Anonymous said...

on dope

Anonymous said...

Response to 8:20 PM

You're missing the point. The stupidity is regarding the the people at the lab who do post during work hours, from government networks using government resources. This is not "hypothetical" either.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, why threaten labbies, when the stuff they post makes these blogs so much more entertaining? The propaganda is especially fun to read.

Anonymous said...

LOLZ

Anonymous said...

Well it IS common knowledge that "anonymous activity" is not at all anonymous. it's really kinda silly if people still think otherwise, unless they're sophisticated enough to use anonymizing networks and services.

Anonymous said...

Well it IS common knowledge that "anonymous activity" is not at all anonymous. it's really kinda silly if people still think otherwise, unless they're sophisticated enough to use anonymizing networks and services.

December 8, 2012 9:41 PM

Your claim is "kinda silly". Posted from a Lab computer, the public IP address is the Lab public IP address - no further info unless the Lab wants to follow up internally. Unlikely since all the cybersec people are chasing the firewall attacks that occur a million times a day.

From home, you have an ISP that presents a common IP address to the world. If you think your employer is chasing you down over the internet without probable cause for fraud or crime, you are simply paranoid.


Anonymous said...

Please continue. You clearly don't have hands on experience. But it's interesting to see how your own misperceptions shape the things you write.

Anonymous said...

Dude, just let the labbies do their thing. The more you say, the more that might get scared off, even not posting from home or from their smartphones or whatever.

Anonymous said...

You'll kill this blog's mojo if the cornball lab propaganda stops flowing! The propaganda is priceless! You can't write this kind of stuff! Don't kill off my enjoyment, please! I beg of you.

Anonymous said...

December 8, 2012 10:30 PM LLNS is lloking for any reason to fire someone. They need to clean the house and posting from work is a sure way to give them a reason to fire you. realitically they could fire almost 100% of the people if they'd just make it a point to go to each employees house and look for a pencil or pen. Kind of chickenshit but then so is the new lay-off policy soon to go into effect, but, it's their company and their $83M profit they need to keep for bonus checks for the big wigs.

Anonymous said...

This thread is dead.

Back to our meds.

Anonymous said...

When I was about 13 I toured the Shiva facility with my Physicist Uncle. My memory is that they were say in about 10 years the lasers would be at break-even on energy production. Fast forward 40 years ... and now they have given up? How many billions where spent on this stupid program? What have we learned? What is the knowledge to cost ratio. If we had spent this money on solar energy physics research ... what would we have today? Flying cars?

Anonymous said...

It neutralized your uncle and kept him from going to Wall Street and causing a crash in '76.

NNSA three stooges screw up the Lab employment contracts in 2007 and Wall St. crashes in '08.

Conincidence or rogue high speed trading?

Anonymous said...

Make LLNL reimburse the Gov for not achieving the goal with NIF. What a huge waste of taxpayers money.

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