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MPNS COST Action MP1208


Developing the Physics and the Scientific community for Inertial Confinement Fusion at the time of NIF ignition


The Action Statement

The Action aims at directly contributing to develop a scientific community in Europe working in Inertial Confinement Fusion and High Energy Density Physics. This will be complementary and synergic to several initiatives going on in Europe at the moment, in particular the construction of the lasers Megajoule and Petal in France (LMJ/PETAL facility), the upgrade of high-energy laser facilities already working, the HiPER and ELI projects. At the same time, we think that the physics related to the development of high-energy laser facilities is very interesting and fascinating in itself, opening new perspectives and new fields of research. The objectives of the Action address Networking on one side and the Study of relevant physics on the other. In particular, LMJ/PETAL will be open the European academic community for civilian research in 2015. This will be a unique system in the world (comparable only to NIF in US) and we want to contribute to the elaboration of the scientific program for such facility over the next 10 years. No other European research program is at the moment directly covering such topics and all mentioned programs are related to "facility development" rather than "community building". Therefore we will fill an "empty slot" in a way which is synergic to running programs. The MP1208 Action's Memorandum of Understanding is available at the COST official website.



The Science & Technology

Inertial confinement fusion (ICF) is a type of fusion energy research that attempts to initiate nuclear fusion reactions by heating and compressing a fuel target, typically in the form of a pellet that most often contains a mixture of deuterium and tritium. To compress and heat the fuel, energy is delivered to the outer layer of the target using high-energy beams of laser light, electrons or ions, although for a variety of reasons, almost all ICF devices to date have used lasers. The heated outer layer explodes outward, producing a reaction force against the remainder of the target, accelerating it inwards, compressing the target. This process is designed to create shock waves that travel inward through the target. A sufficiently powerful set of shock waves can compress and heat the fuel at the center so much that fusion reactions occur. The energy released by these reactions will then heat the surrounding fuel, and if the heating is strong enough this could also begin to undergo fusion. The aim of ICF is to produce a condition known as "ignition", where this heating process causes a chain reaction that burns a significant portion of the fuel. Typical fuel pellets are about the size of a pinhead and contain around 10 milligrams of fuel: in practice, only a small proportion of this fuel will undergo fusion, but if all this fuel were consumed it would release the energy equivalent to burning a barrel of oil.