Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion
Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion (MagLIF) is a method of generating energy by using a 100 nanosecond pulse of electricity to create an intense Z-pinch magnetic field that inwardly crushes a fuel filled cylindrical metal liner (a hohlraum) through which the electric pulse runs. Just before the cylinder implodes, a laser is used to preheat fusion fuel (such as deuterium-tritium) that is held within the cylinder and contained by a magnetic field. Sandia National Labs is currently exploring the potential for this method to generate energy by utilizing the Z machine.
MagLIF has characteristics of both Inertial confinement fusion (due to the usage of a laser and pulsed compression) and magnetic confinement (due to the utilization of a powerful magnetic field to inhibit thermal conduction and contain the plasma). In results published in 2012, a LASNEX based computer simulation of a 70 Mega Amp facility showed the prospect of a spectacular energy return of 1000 times the expended energy. A 60 MA facility would produce a 100x yield. The currently available facility at Sandia, Z machine, is capable of 27 MA and may be capable of producing slightly more than breakeven energy while helping to validate the computer simulations. The Z-machine is currently being prepared for MagLIF experiments in late 2013 with a view towards breakeven experiments using D-T fuel in 2018.
Sandia Labs plans to proceed to ignition experiments after establishing the following:
1. That the liner will not break apart too quickly under the intense energy. This has been apparently confirmed by recent experiments. This hurdle was the biggest concern regarding MagLIF following its initial proposal.
2. That laser preheating is able to correctly heat the fuel. - To be confirmed by experiments starting in December 2012.
3. That magnetic fields generated by a pair of coils above and below the hohlraum can serve to trap the preheated fusion fuel and importantly inhibit thermal conduction without causing the target to buckle prematurely. - To be confirmed by experiments starting in December 2012.
Following these experiments, integrated tests are to start at the end of 2013. Experiments aiming for energy breakeven with D-T fuel are expected to occur in 2018.
- Slutz, Stephen; Roger A. Vesey (12 January 2012). "High-Gain Magnetized Inertial Fusion". Physical Review Letters 108 (2). doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.025003. Retrieved 11 April 2012. Text "journal" ignored (help)
- "Dry-Run Experiments Verify Key Aspect of Nuclear Fusion Concept: Scientific 'Break-Even' or Better Is Near-Term Goal". Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- Cuneo, M.E.; et al. "Magnetically Driven Implosions for Inertial Confinement Fusion at Sandia National Laboratories". IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON PLASMA SCIENCE 40 (12). Retrieved 11 January 2013.
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