INERTIAL CONFINEMENT FUSION TARGETS
Panel on the Assessment of Inertial Confinement Fusion Targets
Board on Physics and Astronomy
Board on Energy and Environmental Systems
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
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Cover: Photo of an OMEGA cryogenic implosion, courtesy of the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics.
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PANEL ON THE ASSESSMENT OF INERTIAL CONFINEMENT FUSION TARGETS
JOHN AHEARNE, NAE, Sigma Xi, Chair
DOUGLAS EARDLEY, University of California, Santa Barbara, Vice Chair
ROBERT DYNES, University of California, Santa Barbara
DAVID HARDING, University of Rochester
THOMAS MEHLHORN, Naval Research Laboratory
MERRI WOOD-SCHULTZ, Los Alamos, New Mexico
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
GREG EYRING, Study Director
SARAH CASE, Study Director (until October 2011)
LaNITA JONES, Administrative Coordinator
BOARD ON PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY
PHILIP H. BUCKSBAUM, Stanford University, Chair
DEBRA ELMEGREEN, Vassar College, Vice Chair
RICCARDO BETTI, University of Rochester
ADAM S. BURROWS, Princeton University
TODD DITMIRE, University of Texas, Austin
NATHANIEL J. FISCH, Princeton University
PAUL FLEURY, Yale University
S. JAMES GATES, University of Maryland
LAURA H. GREENE, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
MARTHA P. HAYNES, Cornell University
MARK B. KETCHEN, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center
MONICA OLVERA DE LA CRUZ, Northwestern University
PAUL L. SCHECHTER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
BORIS I. SHRAIMAN, Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics
MICHAEL S. TURNER, University of Chicago
ELLEN D. WILLIAMS, BP International
MICHAEL S. WITHERELL, University of California, Santa Barbara
JAMES C. LANCASTER, Director
DONALD C. SHAPERO, Senior Scholar
DAVID B. LANG, Program Officer
CARYN J. KNUTSEN, Associate Program Officer
TERI G. THOROWGOOD, Administrative Coordinator
BETH DOLAN, Financial Associate
BOARD ON ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS
ANDREW BROWN, JR., Delphi Corporation, Chair
WILLIAM BANHOLZER, Dow Chemical Company
MARILYN BROWN, Georgia Institute of Technology
WILLIAM CAVANAUGH III, Progress Energy (retired), Raleigh, North Carolina
PAUL DeCOTIS, Long Island Power Authority
CHRISTINE EHLIG-ECONOMIDES, Texas A&M University
SHERRI GOODMAN, CNA, Alexandria, Virginia
NARAIN HINGORANI, Independent Consultant, Los Altos Hills, California
ROBERT HUGGETT, Independent Consultant, Seaford, Virginia
DEBBIE NIEMEIER, University of California, Davis
DANIEL NOCERA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER, Princeton University
DAN REICHER, Stanford University
BERNARD ROBERTSON, Daimler-Chrysler (retired), Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
GARY ROGERS, FEV, Inc., Auburn Hills, Michigan
ALISON SILVERSTEIN, Consultant, Pflugerville, Texas
MARK THIEMENS, University of California, San Diego
RICHARD WHITE, Oppenheimer & Company, New York City
JAMES ZUCCHETTO, Director
DANA CAINES, Financial Associate
DAVID COOKE, Associate Program Officer
ALAN CRANE, Senior Scientist
K. JOHN HOLMES, Associate Board Director
LaNITA JONES, Administrative Coordinator
ALICE WILLIAMS, Senior Program Assistant
JONATHAN YANGER, Senior Project Assistant
Preface and Acknowledgments
In the fall of 2010, the Office of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Under Secretary for Science asked for a National Research Council (NRC) committee to investigate the prospects for generating power using inertial confinement fusion (ICF) concepts, acknowledging that a key test of viability for this concept—ignition1—could be demonstrated at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in the relatively near term. The committee was asked to provide an unclassified report. However, DOE indicated that to fully assess this topic, the committee’s deliberations would have to be informed by the results of some classified experiments and information, particularly in the area of ICF targets and nonproliferation. Thus, an additional Panel on Fusion Target Physics (“the panel”) was assembled, composed of experts able to access the needed information (for member biographies, see Appendix A). The panel was charged with advising the committee on these issues, both by internal discussion and by this unclassified report. The statement of task for the panel is as follows:
A Panel on Fusion Target Physics (“the panel”) will serve as a technical resource to the Committee on Inertial Confinement Energy Systems (“the Committee”) and will prepare a report that describes the R&D challenges to providing suitable targets, on the basis of parameters established and provided to the Panel by the Committee.
1 The operative definition of ignition adopted by the panel, “gain greater than unity,” is the same as that used in the earlier NRC report Review of the Department of Energy’s Inertial Confinement Fusion Program, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press (1997).
The Panel on Fusion Target Physics will prepare a report that will assess the current performance of fusion targets associated with various ICF concepts in order to understand:
1. The spectrum output;
2. The illumination geometry;
3. The high-gain geometry; and
4. The robustness of the target design.
The panel will also address the potential impacts of the use and development of current concepts for Inertial Fusion Energy on the proliferation of nuclear weapons information and technology, as appropriate. The Panel will examine technology options, but will not provide recommendations specific to any currently operating or proposed ICF facility.
The panel interpreted the terms used in its statement of task in the following way. “Illumination geometry” not only is interpreted to mean the physical arrangement and timing of laser or particle beams incident on the target but also is generalized to mean “delivering driver energy to the target.” In this way, the magnetic forces in pulsed-power schemes are also included. “High-gain geometry” is interpreted as designs that enable the energy incident on the target to be converted efficiently into fuel burn and high yield.2 “Spectrum output” is interpreted to include all of the types of emissions (photons, ions, neutrons, and debris) from the fusion target and their energy spectra. Depending on the type of reaction chamber used (solid wall, wetted wall, liquid wall, gas-filled, evacuated, and so on) these emissions may or may not reach the chamber wall; however, a detailed discussion of the effects on the wall is beyond the scope of this report. “Robustness of the target design” is interpreted in two ways: (1) the inherent “physics robustness,” which relates to the performance margins of the design being large enough compared to the physics uncertainties that reliable performance can be assured under ideal conditions, and (2) “engineering robustness,” which relates to the target’s ability to deliver reliable performance even under nonideal conditions such as variations in driver energy, target manufacturing defects, errors in target positioning, or driver beam misalignment.
This unclassified report contains all of the panel’s conclusions and recommendations. In some cases, additional support and documentation required the discussion of classified material, which appears in classified appendices in a separate version of this report. ICF is an active research field, and scientific understanding continues to evolve. The information discussed here is accurate as of the date presented to the panel (see Appendix B), although in some cases more recent updates are included; if so, this is noted in the text.
This report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with procedures approved by
2 High yield is defined broadly as much more than 10 times the fusion energy produced as driver energy delivered to the target.
the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Bedros Afeyan, Polymath Research Inc.,
Roger Bangerter, E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (retired),
Michael Corradini, University of Wisconsin,
Jill Dahlburg, Naval Research Laboratory,
Richard Garwin, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center,
David Hammer, Cornell University,
Frank von Hippel, Princeton University,
Arjun Makhijani, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research,
David Overskei, Decision Factors Inc.,
Robert Rosner, University of Chicago, and
Douglas Wilson, Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Louis J. Lanzerotti, New Jersey Institute of Technology. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
The panel also thanks the NRC staff for its dedicated work, in particular Sarah Case, who got the panel started off on the correct path, and Greg Eyring, who persevered in getting both the classified and unclassified reports over many hurdles.
John F. Ahearne, Chair
Panel on the Assessment of Inertial Confinement Fusion Targets