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Russia, China building large lasers.

Russia has launched a $1.5 billion project to create a high-energy superiaser site, which designers pledge will be the best in the world. Capable of igniting nuclear fusion, the facility will be used both for thermonuclear weapon and for inertial confinement fusion (ICF) studies. The laser facility will be developed by the Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF), a leading Russian nuclear laboratory. In its six decades of history, it was involved in the development of both the military and civilian nuclear programs in Russia.

The site will have the size of a 360-meter long 10 story building and be built near the Sarov technology park in Nizhny Novgorod region in central Russia, said the institute's head of research, Radiy Ilkaev, who said it will be a dual-purpose device." On the one hand, there is the defense component, because high energy density plasma physics can be productively studied on such devices. It's necessary for developing thermonuclear weapons. On the other hand, there is the power industry component. The world's leading physicists believe that laser nuclear fusion can be useful for future energetics," the scientist said.

The Russian device will be similar to the American National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the French Laser Megajoule (LMJ) in terms of capability. The NIF is currently online. The French counterpart is due to be launched in 2012. The Russian facility may be ready in a decade, Ilkaev estimates. Ilkaev says the future Russian facility will be able to deliver 2.8 megajoules of energy to its target, as compared to energy levels of about 1.8 megajoules for the American and French lasers. "We are making our device later than they did, because such projects. are costly, hut ours will he the best in the world," the scientist promised.

This Russian Laser Fusion System will be the fourth in the series of international facilities of megajoule-class Lasers for ICF and High Energy Density Science. They are NIF in the United States, LMJ (Laser MegaJoule) in France, Divine Light 4 in China and the Russian system.

While NIF is now operational and doing experiments, these other facilities plan to be operational later in this decade. They closely resemble the NIF architecture (indirect drive fusion) and can be used for a variety of applications for strategic, energy and basic science missions. Like NIF, each is designed to do fusion bum experiments. These four megajoule-class lasers are supplemented by significant mid-capability laser systems (1-20 Kjoules) Omega in Rochester, Orion in Great Britain, Gekko in Japan, Divine Light 2 and 3 in China, and the NRL Nike system. These are configured to do sub-scale fusion experiments and basic science in a variety of configurations including indirect drive, direct drive and fast ignition. There are also now literally dozens of university-scale lasers doing supporting this research internationally. The HiPER effort in Europe is also exploring building large facility capabilities to study fusion energy and the Koreans have recently shown significant interest in exploring this path within their own country.

According to Ed Moses, head of the NIF, "This latest Russian announcement demonstrates that laser fusion continues to grow rapidly as an international effort. One of the interesting attributes of these systems is that the size of the investment in showing full-scale burn physics can be managed within the resources of individual countries (as demonstrated above) and that the time scale of construction is now 10 years and decreasing. Many within the field think that this trend will accelerate in the years ahead as the system designs for advanced systems become better understood, the basic technologies continue to become more commercial, and that the physics performance of laser fusion, in whatever configuration, becomes more robust."

China is constructing SG-III (Divine Light 3), a 48 beam,3ns,3co,200kJ super laser facility, which is to be in operation in 2012 and plans are in place to build a new Ignition facility, Divine Light 4 (3ns,3oL1.4MJ) to be finished in 2020. The SG-III laser facility, which is one of the most important parts of the China ICF Program, is nearing completion in the Research Center of Laser Fusion (LFRC) of China Academy of Engineering Physics (CALF). SG-111 will be used to investigate target physics before ignition for both direct-driven and indirect-driven ICF. The facility is designed to provide up to 48 energetic laser beams (six bundles) and laser energy output of 150-200kJ (3(n) for square pulse of 3ns. If fast ignition is workable, SG-III will couple with a PW laser of tens KJ to demonstrate fast ignition.

More information on the Russian system can be found at lutp://rt.com/news/russia-superlaserthermonuclear-weapon-123/

More information on China's program can be found at http://www.ehinatechgaduet.com/chinasshenguang-3.html

A conference on Laser Inertial Fusion Energy will be held in Yokohama, Japan April 25-27, 2012. Information on the conference can be found at: httu://www.ile.osakau.ac.jp/cife
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Publication:Fusion Power Report
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Mar 1, 2012
Words:820
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