Magnetized liner inertial fusion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The stages of a MagLIF implosion.
  1. A laser preheats the fuel.
  2. An axial current is driven through the liner.
  3. The current induces an azimuthal magnetic field.
  4. The magnetic force implodes the liner, compressing and heating the fuel.

Magnetized liner inertial fusion (MagLIF) is an emerging method of producing controlled nuclear fusion. It is part of the broad category of inertial fusion energy (IFE) systems, which drives the inward movement of fusion fuel, thereby compressing it to reach densities and temperatures where fusion reactions occur. Other IFE experiments use laser drivers to reach these conditions, whereas MagLIF uses a combination of lasers for heating and Z-pinch for compression. A variety of theoretical considerations suggest such a system will reach the required conditions for fusion with a machine of significantly less complexity than the pure-laser approach.

There are currently at least two facilities testing feasibility of the MagLIF concept, the Z-machine at Sandia Labs in the US and Primary Test Stand (PTS) located in Mianyang, China.[1]


MagLIF is a method of generating energy by magnetically compressing a cylinder of fusion fuel (such as deuterium). First, an axial magnetic field of 10–20 tesla is applied to the fuel. Then, a multi-kilojoule laser shines through the fuel, preheating it to a few millions of degrees Celsius and turning it into a plasma. Finally, a 100 nanosecond pulse of electric current is driven axially through the metal liner surrounding the fuel. The current induces an intense Z-pinch magnetic field that crushes the liner and fuel.

The compression does work to the fuel, heating it to tens of millions of degrees Celsius. Ideally, the plasma reaches a high enough temperature and density to undergo fusion burn, releasing energy. The compression also amplifies the axial magnetic field to thousands of teslas, providing magnetic confinement to the imploded plasma.[2]

MagLIF has characteristics of both inertial confinement fusion (due to the use of a laser and pulsed compression) and magnetic confinement fusion (due to the use of a powerful magnetic field to inhibit thermal conduction and contain the plasma), making it an example of magneto-inertial fusion.

In results published in 2012, a computer simulation using the LASNEX code showed that a 70 megaampere facility would provide an energy yield of 1000 times the expended energy, and a 60 megaampere facility would produce a yield of 100 times the expended energy.

Z Pulsed Power Facility[edit]

The Z machine at Sandia National Labs

Sandia National Labs is currently exploring the potential for this method to generate energy by utilizing the Z machine. The Z machine is capable of 27 megaamperes and may be capable of producing slightly more than breakeven energy while helping to validate the computer simulations.[3] The Z-machine conducted MagLIF experiments in November 2013 with a view towards breakeven experiments using D–T fuel in 2018.[4]

Sandia Labs planned to proceed to ignition experiments after establishing the following:[5]

  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, an integrated test started in November 2013. The test yielded about 1010 high-energy neutrons.

As of November 2013, the facility at Sandia labs had the following capabilities:[4][6]

  1. 10 tesla magnetic field
  2. 2 kilojoule laser
  3. 16 megaamperes
  4. D–D fuel

In 2014, the test yielded up to 2×1012 D–D neutrons under the following conditions:[7]

  1. 10 tesla magnetic field
  2. 2.5 kilojoule laser
  3. 19 megaamperes
  4. D–D fuel

Experiments aiming for energy breakeven with D-T fuel were expected to occur in 2018.[8]
To achieve scientific breakeven, the facility is going through a 5-year upgrade to:

  1. 30 teslas
  2. 8 kilojoule laser
  3. 27 megaamperes
  4. D–T fuel handling[4]

In 2019, after encountering significant problems related to mixing of imploding foil with fuel and helical instability of plasma,[9] the tests yielded up to 3.2×1012 neutrons under the following conditions:[10]

  1. 1.2 kilojoule laser
  2. 18 megaamperes

In 2020, "the burn-averaged ion temperature doubled to 3.1 keV and the primary deuterium–deuterium neutron yield increased by more than an order of magnitude to 1.1×1013 (2 kilojoule deuterium–tritium equivalent) through a simultaneous increase in the applied magnetic field (from 10.4 to 15.9 teslas), laser preheat energy (from 0.46 to 1.2 kilojoules), and current coupling (from 16 to 20 megaamperes)."[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hailong, Zhao; et al. (12 May 2020). "Preliminary exploration of MagLIF concept and feasibility analysis on PTS facility". High Power Laser and Particle Beams. 32 (6): 62002–62010. doi:10.11884/HPLPB202032.190352.
  2. ^ Yager-Elorriaga, D. A.; Gomez, M. R.; Ruiz, D. E.; Slutz, S. A.; Harvey-Thompson, A. J.; Jennings, C. A. (2022). "An overview of magneto-inertial fusion on the Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories". Nuclear Fusion. 62 (4): 042015. Bibcode:2022NucFu..62d2015Y. doi:10.1088/1741-4326/ac2dbe.
  3. ^ Slutz, Stephen; Roger A. Vesey (12 January 2012). "High-Gain Magnetized Inertial Fusion". Physical Review Letters. 108 (2): 025003. Bibcode:2012PhRvL.108b5003S. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.025003. PMID 22324693.
  4. ^ a b c Gibbs WW (2014). "Triple-threat method sparks hope for fusion". Nature. 505 (7481): 9–10. Bibcode:2014Natur.505....9G. doi:10.1038/505009a. PMID 24380935.
  5. ^ "Dry-Run Experiments Verify Key Aspect of Nuclear Fusion Concept: Scientific 'Break-Even' or Better Is Near-Term Goal". Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  6. ^ Ryan, McBride. "Magnetized LIF and Cylindrical Dynamic Materials Properties Experiments on Z". Krell Institute. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  7. ^ Gomez, M. R.; et al. "Experimental Verification of the Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion (MagLIF) Concept". Krell Institute. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  8. ^ Cuneo, M.E.; et al. (2012). "Magnetically Driven Implosions for Inertial Confinement Fusion at Sandia National Laboratories". IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science. 40 (12): 3222–3245. Bibcode:2012ITPS...40.3222C. doi:10.1109/TPS.2012.2223488.
  9. ^ Seyler, C.E.; Martin, M.R.; Hamlin, N.D. (2018). "Helical instability in MagLIF due to axial flux compression by low-density plasma". Physics of Plasmas. 25 (6). Physics of Plasmas 25, 062711 (2018): 062711. Bibcode:2018PhPl...25f2711S. doi:10.1063/1.5028365. OSTI 1456307.
  10. ^ Gomez, M. R.; et al. (2019). "Assessing Stagnation Conditions and Identifying Trends in Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion". IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science. 47 (5). IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science vol. 47/5: 2081–2101. Bibcode:2019ITPS...47.2081G. doi:10.1109/TPS.2019.2893517. OSTI 1529761.
  11. ^ Gomez, M. R.; et al. (2020). "Performance Scaling in Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion Experiments". Phys. Rev. Lett. 125 (15). American Physical Society: 155002. Bibcode:2020PhRvL.125o5002G. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.125.155002. PMID 33095639.