The US Department of Energy (known as DOE) is firmly committed to the development of nuclear fusion through inertial confinement. And the institution that does most of the research in this area is the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LNLL), located in California. This center dedicates a good part of its activity to develop nuclear weaponsalthough its purpose is also to transform things into energy.
In any case, the main source of funding for LNLL is the DOE. Just two weeks ago this scientific institution scored something important: its technicians were able to successfully repeat the milestone they announced in mid-December 2022. In short, what they achieved was the creation an energy of 3.15 megajoules in their fusion reactor through inertial confinement. According to those responsible for the experiment, this energy delivery represents a net energy benefit of 35%, although the commercial application of this technology is still far away.
And this is because inertial nuclear fusion must overcome several significant challenges to be commercially viable. More than fusion through magnetic confinement, which is what ITER will use. Broadly speaking, it should dealing with high energy neutrons resulting from the fusion of deuterium and tritium nuclei, as well as having the necessary technological support to guarantee the reactor a continuous, accurate and very fast supply of fuel microballs at least ten capsules per second, between other challenges.
112 million dollars to fund the development of nuclear fusion
DOE officials and LNLL scientists know better than anyone the major technical challenges that lie ahead in developing practical applications of inertial nuclear fusion. And we can be sure that the recent success of this last institution has led the DOE to announce an investment of 112 million dollars in 12 supercomputing projects that, precisely, seek to contribute to solving these challenges.
Supercomputers are very important when performing simulations of complex systems
This injection of money from the DOE will be under a program known as SciDAC (Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing) which promotes the use of supercomputers to solve some scientific challenges. And yes, it makes sense. It has this because these machines are very important tools when it comes to transportation simulations of complex systemssuch as, for example, plasma dynamics in nuclear fusion reactors through magnetic confinement.
However, if we proceed with inertial nuclear fusion, which is what we are dealing with, the DOE plan consists of modeling and simulating many physical processes involved in plasma dynamics under extreme conditions with the goal of starting in the path that ends in the design. in a fusion pilot plant. This does not sound bad, however, as we have seen, it is clear that this goal is still far away. The Administration led by Joe Biden has set the goal of having a fusion plant within the next decade, but a priori it sounds very ambitious. Let’s see if they succeed.
Cover image: LNLL
More information: hart | The Register
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