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How is heavy ion beam fusion going?

  1. Jun 21, 2013 #1
    Does anyone know of the drawbacks and future plans anything to look out for?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 21, 2013 #2
    Sadly the US heavy ion fusion program was cut around 2003(?).

    There are a handful of experiments that do research relevant to heavy ion fusion, but it is not their main focus.

    The national academy of sciences just released "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy." In it they summarize the current understanding of heavy ion fusion and they also give a road map for possible future R&D.

    The report is free to download:
  4. Jun 22, 2013 #3
    Ask any of these persons http://hif.lbl.gov/VNLstaff.html
    All they are members of Virtual National Laboratory (VNL) sponsored by DOE.

    54 persons with annual salary not less than 60'000 USD (up to 100'000 USD/y). So DOE spends only on salary about 3'500'000 USD per year.

    Anderson, Oscar
    David Baca
    Bangerter, Roger
    Barnard, John
    Beck, Dave
    Beggs, Ron
    Bieniosek, Frank
    Callahan, Debbie
    Celata, Christine
    Chacon-Golcher, Edwin
    Chilton, Sven
    Cohen, Ron
    Coleman, Josh
    Craig, George


    Davidson, Ron
    Debonnel, Christophe
    Eylon, Shumel
    Faltens, Andy
    Franks, Mark
    Friedman, Alex


    Ghiorso, Bill
    Grote, Dave
    Heimbucher, Lynn
    Henestroza, Enrique
    Hernandez, Sharon
    Hipple, Ralph


    Jung, Jin-Young
    Kaganovich, Igor
    Katayanagi, Tak
    Kireeff Covo, Michel
    Kwan, Joe
    Lee, Ed
    Lee, Wei-Li
    Leitner, Matthaeus
    Logan, Grant
    Lund, Steve


    Meier, Wayne
    Molvik, Art


    Perkins, John
    Prost, Lionel
    Qin, Hong
    Reginato, Lou
    Ritchie, Gary
    Rogers, Craig
    Roy, Prabir


    Seidl, Peter
    Sharp, Bill
    Shuman, Derek
    Strelo, Bill
    Tabak, Max


    Vay, Jean-Luc
    Waldron, Will
    Westenskow, Glen
    Yu, Simon
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
  5. Jun 23, 2013 #4
    Joseph, do you know the current status of NDCX-II
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2013
  6. Jun 23, 2013 #5
    You can google this information yourself.
    Especially for you I found for example the following: http://cerncourier.com/cws/article/cern/40998
    NDCX-II has received $11 million of funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Construction began in July with completion of the initial 15-cell configuration anticipated in March 2012.

    NDCX-II will accelerate a beam of 30–50 nC of Li+ ions to 1.5–4 MeV and compress it into a pulse around 1 ns long. The short, high-current pulse is important for applications requiring efficient stopping of ions for rapid heating of a small amount of matter. As with the existing NDCX-I, the new machine uses neutralized drift compression.

    But NDCX-II is only a one little part of very extensive Heavy Ions Fusion program intended only for checking of possibility of focusing of very intense pulse ion beams by background plasma (plasma column) and nothing more.
    There in heavy ions fusion is intended to use Cesium ion beams and not Lithium.
  7. Jun 24, 2013 #6
    There is no extensive heavy ion program in the US. From the national academy report I linked to earlier:

    As I stated earlier, the US stopped funding heavy ion fusion driver research in 2003. Also the primary goal of NDCX-II is to support HEDP research NOT Heavy Ion Fusion. Advances made by NDCX-II will benefit heavy ion fusion, but it it not its intended goal. And the funding of the construction and operation of NDCX-II should not be taken as a sign that the US funds an extensive heavy ion program.

    I know that there is a collaboration between Russia and Germany to develop Ion Based ICF. I really can't comment on how extensive it is. I think Japan also does some ion based research at the university level, but nothing large scale.

    This is a horrible way to estimate the size of any research program. There is no way of knowing how up-to-date this list is. Most of the website was last updated in 2002 (prior to the cancellation of the heavy ion driver program). Also many people on this list probably only do heavy ion research part time. There is no way to know what fraction of their time is spent and paid for doing VNL related research. Finally most laboratories and universities add a surcharge onto grants that sometimes amounts to ~200% of the scientist's salary.

    I'm not trying to be mean. One of the realities of fusion research is that there are a lot of innovative promising ideas, like heavy ion ICF, that don't get significant funding. If you're interested in a career in fusion research, this is a harsh reality that you have to accept. As a graduate student studying magnetic fusion, I know a number of people who have been turned off by this, and they ended up pursuing other things. If you're are at all interested in ICF I strongly encourage you to skim the academy report I linked to above. It gives an honest and detailed assessment of ICF, both laser driven and ion driven. It talks about NCDX-II and VNL, among other things. It is very up-to-date (it was published this year) and many of the authors of the report are leading experts in ICF.
  8. Jun 24, 2013 #7
    Strange statement. As if to use Google with key words “Heavy Ions Fusion DOE” one of the first links you will get is: http://www.ornl.gov/info/news/pulse/no368/feature.sht [Broken] dated at July 30, 2012.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  9. Jun 24, 2013 #8
    The statement is based off of the quote I posted from "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy" by the National Academe Press. The report is a peer reviewed document written and reviewed by a number of scientist involved in inertial confinement fusion.

    Also when they make comments such as:
    line 2422 on 2-37 I tend to believe them.
  10. Jun 24, 2013 #9
    How they are involved if after mentioned by them date 2003 another scientists working in three largest NATIONAL Labs say that they still working?
    Not a fact that those 54 people are paid for working in Inertial Confinement? Yes, 54 is not a big number, and yes, 11 millions not a big money for a program which should be even more expensive that TOKAMAK. But nevertheless they are working.
    See for example here: http://nonneutral.pppl.gov/ what these people of Prienston are doing.
    Below are references of their papers written only in 2012 and so after mentioned by you "cancellation date" of program:

    • “Summary of Progress in U.S. Heavy Ion Fusion Science Research,” J. W. Kwan, J. J. Barnard, R. H. Cohen, R. C. Davidson, P. C. Efthimion, A. Friedman, E. P. Gilson, L. R. Grisham, D. P. Grote, E. Henestroza, I. D. Kaganovich, S. M. Lidia, B. G. Logan, S. M. Lund, R. M. More, P. Ni, L. J. Perkins, H. Qin, P. K. Roy, P. A. Seidl, W. M. Sharp, E. A. Startsev, M. R. Terry, and W. L. Waldron, Nuclear Fusion, submitted for publication (2012).
    • “Plasma Sources for NDCX-II and Heavy Ion Drivers,” E. P. Gilson, R. C. Davidson, P. C. Efthimion, I. D. Kaganovich, J. W. Kwan, S. M. Lidia, P. A. Ni, P. K. Roy, P. A. Seidl, W. L. Waldron, J. J. Barnard and A. Friedman, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A, submitted for publication (2012).
    • “Studies of Electrical Breakdown Processes across Vacuum Gaps,” L. R. Grisham, A. Von Halle, A. F. Carpe, Guy Rossi, K. R. Gilton, E. D. McBride, E. P. Gilson, A. Stepanov and T. N. Stevenson, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A, submitted for publication (2012).
    • “Dynamic Stabilization of the Ablative Rayleigh-Taylor Instability for Heavy Ion Fusion,” H. Qin, R. C. Davidson and B. G. Logan, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A, submitted for publication (2012).
    • “Transverse Focusing of Intense Charged Particle Beams with Chromatic Effects for Heavy Ion Fusion,” J. M. Mitrani, I. D. Kaganovich and R. C. Davidson, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A, submitted for publication (2012).
    • “Effects of Beam-Plasma Instabilities on Neutralized Propagation of Intense Ion Beams in Background Plasma,” E. A. Startsev, I. D. Kaganovich and R. C. Davidson, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A, submitted for publication (2012).
    • “Enhanced Collective Focusing of Intense Neutralized Ion Beam Pulses in the Presence of Weak Solemoidal Magnetic Fields,” M. A. Dorf, R. C. Davidson, I. D. Kaganovich and E. A. Startsev, Physics of Plasmas 19, 056704 (2012).
    • “Effects of Errors in Velocity Tilt on Maximum Longitudinal Compression during Neutralized Drift Compression of Intense Beam Pulses – Part I: General Description” I. D. Kaganovich, S. Massidda, E. A. Startsev, R. C. Davidson, J. Luc – Vay, and A. Friedman, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research 678, 48 (2012).
    • “Effects of Errors in Velocity Tilt on Maximum Longitudinal Compression during Neutralized Drift Compression of Intense Beam Pulses – Part II: General Analysis of the Experimental Data of the Neutralized Drift Compression Experiment - I (NDCX - I),” I. D. Kaganovich, S. Massidda, E. A. Startsev, R. C. Davidson, S. M. Lidia, P. A. Seidl, and A. Friedman, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research 678, 39 (2012).
    •“Thermodynamic Bounds on Nonlinear Electrostatic Perturbations in Intense Charged Particle Beams,” N. C. Logan and R. C. Davidson, Physcs of Plasmas 19, 073113 (2012).
    •“A New Class of Generalized Kapchinskij-Vladimirskij Distribution and Associated Envelope Equations for High-Intensity Charged Particle Beams,” H. Qin and R. C. Davidson, submitted for publication (2012).
    • “Plasma Source Development for the NDCX-I and NDCX-II Neutralized Drift Compression Experiments,” E. P. Gilson, R. C. Davidson, P. C. Efthimion, and I. D. Kaganovich, Laser and Particle Beams 30, 435 (2012).

    Not impressive?
  11. Jun 26, 2013 #10
    I agree that there is some HIF research going on. In fact if you look at my original post I acknowledge that.

    I disagree with your statement:
    There is not an extensive Heavy Ion Fusion program in the USA. This is the main point I am trying to emphasis.

    I admit I may have been a little misleading it what I meant earlier, so let me explain.

    The way fusion and other scientific funding work in the USA, is that the government agency (in this case the DOE) that funds the research identifies certain "research thrusts" or objectives. In order for a research proposal to get funding, you have to directly tie your research to one of the main thrusts,

    Now my understanding is that up until 2003. Heavy Ion fusion was its own unique thrust. This means that in the DOE budget there was a separate pool of funds allocated to do HIF research. And if you wanted to do HIF research, then your proposal would simply have to demonstrate how your research would advance that field.

    In 2003 things changed, and there is no longer a separate research thrust for HIF. In other words developing HIF is not currently a DOE objective.

    If this is true, then how are people still doing HIF related research.
    There are two ways (that I know of) that this happens.

    First there are some usually some funds in the DOE budget to develop alternative or innovative concepts. The pools of money for this projects are significantly smaller than the main thrusts. But it is a source that HIF researchers can tap.

    Secondly, there is a new thrust within the DOE office of fusion energy sciences to study high energy density physics. This branch of science has relevance to ICF, but also to astrophysical phenomena such as the physics of the interiors of planets. In order to do HEDP research you have to compress a target much like ICF does. And as I understand it, ion drivers allow you to do a different sort of experiment than laser drivers. Therefore advances in heavy ion drivers, enable HEDP research. And it is my understanding that it is through HEDP that most "HIF" related research gets funded.

    For instance the VNL that you keep on mentioning is funded by HEPD.

    I also will reiterate a part of my quote from the national academy report:
    Which implies that NDCX-II was designed to do HEDP research. It is still useful for HIF research.

    Also from slide two of the Barnard pdf you linked to:
    Much of the recent work on heavy ion drivers have been with an emphasis to enable HEPD research. WDM is a branch of HEPD.

    Also I will point out that on the 12 papers you cited, most of the papers focus on improving the ion driver performance. Which has the dual purpose of supporting HEPD research and HIF. The first one is HIF specific. But Grisham et. al. actually focus of electrical breakdown for magnetic confinement experiments. The are a few that mention specifically mention HIF, like the one on RT stability, that probably also have ties to HEDP.

    And in truth 11 papers a year is not indicative of an extensive program.
  12. Jun 26, 2013 #11
    11 papers a year only one small Prienston team.
    Program is extensive by volume of works have to be done for reaching desired goal – making of commercially successful HIF. I said too that several tens people can not reach that goal as well as money being spending today is not enough for a program that should be even more expensive than TOKAMAK.

    DOE or another organization but you was wrong saying “HIF program was canceled in 2003”

    And I think that today some reevaluation of priorities is observed.
    Because today decision making people have not expectation that at least initially fusion will be competitive vs. fission. And partially they are right: power density – lower, capital cost - at least initially higher. Also nobody including developers sure that technically HIF is feasible. As if this is not so nobody would conduct NDCX-II experiment. So budget cuts have solid background.
    And only with this we can explain that nobody today forces fusion researches.

    Are you for example sure that after achievement of ignition of ITER (if that will happen) and construction of further DEMO humans will be ready to build commercial reactor based on TOKAMAK principle?
    My answer is NO. As nobody necessary for H-mode Neutral Beam Injection is very useful for experiments when it is not a problem if shots are conducted once a week but that is less useful when we need shot after shot. As for each shot wall desorption is need there.
    So, new ideas are needed.
  13. Jul 1, 2013 #12
    As far as I know, little or no HIF research is being funded by the innovative concepts pot of money. At least the pot of money that I am aware of. I think the ICF innovative concepts pot was cut or was restructured 5-6 years ago, but I could be wrong. I do know that the ICF people stopped going to the innovative fusion concepts meetings around that time. In fact, the magnetic confinement innovative concepts funding has also changed priorities to be MUCH more tokamak specific, though many of the existing projects recast/reword their focus to remain 'relevant' to the new focus.

    Also, as pointed out, the fusion program was also restructured around that time to make room for HEDP. From the researchers I know who were affected by this are still doing the same research as before. It's just now instead of doing 'FRC research' they are doing 'HEDP research' and they submit their proposals to a different call. They also probably change some of their language in the proposal, but they are nominally doing the same thing. The biggest problem though is the HEDP is kind of withering on the vine...

    As far as I know, the Princeton group is still doing some research that is relevant to HIF, though maybe not directly HIF research. This is how it more or less has been since I first went there in 2001. The Paul Trap Simulator Experiment is still there, etc. I had a friend who did his dissertation on HIF - I can ask him to see what the current news is if you'd like.
  14. Jul 1, 2013 #13
    I think most of the ICC projects were cut around 2010-2011. I didn't mean to imply that HIF was funded by the ICC community (now EPR). As I understand it, the ICF budget has had some funds allocated to develop non-traditional methods of compression and ignition, similar to the ICC program.

    I'd be interested in what your friend has to say. I've got a friend at LLNL who does some HIF (via HEDP) research that I've asked too.
  15. Jul 1, 2013 #14
    I'd say about half to a third of the ICC projects got cut around 2010ish (LDX, TCSU, MCX) and SSPX around 2008. A few of the ones that did probably needed to go, but there were a couple of undeserved cuts in my mind. There are still quite a number of them operating though, including LTX, HIT-SI, SSX, an FRC project semi-affiliated with U Washington, some stuff at Caltech, the FRC at Princeton, the FRC/MTF project at Los Alamos/Kirtland AFB (subsumed into HEDP), small stellarators (HSX), MST (RFP at Wisconsin), Pegasus (ST at Wisconsin), etc. Some of these projects have moved funding homes over the years, but the research still continues. And while the DOE doesn't fund the following two, Tri-Alpha and General Fusion participate in the community as well. As you can probably guess, I was a member of the community for some time.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding about the EPR/ICR funding. I do know that the ICF folks use to go to the ICC/EPR meetings (even though the funding might have been different) but they stopped around 2008. They were researching things like fast ignition.

    I wrote my friend. Hopefully he gets back to me in a timely fashion :)
  16. Jul 1, 2013 #15
    So, not in 2003 as you stated earlier?
    What cut you talk about if funding in HIF always was extremely small vs. extensive works have to be done? Be noted that HIF program would be much more expensive than even TOKAMAK.
    What "innovative concept pot"? Does the word "innovative" not mean "modern", "novel", "new", etc. You can read books written in 70s and 80s. Are ideas sounded 30-40 years ago innovative?
    Induction linacs proposed to be used as drivers thought up by many years ago died Nick Christafilos.
    Focusing of beams with the help of their propagation through the plasma column is 30-40 years aged proposal.
    Hohlaraum design - please show me new ideas.
    Etc., etc, etc.
    What experiment they actually done is checking feasibility of focusing and control of beams with the help of components of demolished ATA electron accelerator. And being underway theoretical study of various kinds of stream instabilities. They never had a big budget.
  17. Jul 1, 2013 #16
    What is slow in inertial confinement?
    May be they are researching some things allowing ignition? :)
  18. Jul 1, 2013 #17
    I don't recall what fast ignition exactly was. The last talk I heard on it was 5 years ago. It was something along the lines of decoupling the ignition and compression phases.

    https://lasers.llnl.gov/science_technology/fusion_science/fast_ignition.php [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  19. Jul 1, 2013 #18
    Laser ignition failed with NIF (national ignition facility). And all processes in inertial confinement are rather fast. In opposite case "inertial" is impossible.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  20. Jul 1, 2013 #19
  21. Jul 1, 2013 #20
    Research idea where? In NIF?
    NIF closed.
  22. Jul 1, 2013 #21
    NIF closed? Once again I'm not quite sure what you are getting at. NIF might be facing a budget cut, but I'm sure the defense related activities of NIF are still being funded. Regardless...

    With respect to HIF, apparently I need to eat crow. Here's what my friend wrote: The head of OFES killed the HIF program last month or so. LBNL and LLNL people working in HIF were either laid off or transferred back to LLNL. PPPL people are finding other things to work on now. In his eyes, with experimental program now gone and the elders no longer carrying the torch, no fresh blood will be entering research, so it will go the way of the US mirror program.

    That being said, I saw the Senate approved a budget for HEDLP of $15 million, including HIF. So who knows.
  23. Jul 2, 2013 #22
    I am afraid that only Hollywood related activity (Star track in the Darkness) is still actual for NIF. And nothing more. As what they claim on "defense related activity" is modeling of thermonuclear weapon. If so, as far as I understand, no ignition - no possibility of modeling. And ignition failed. That is a fact.

    I do not know the last news about HIF. But that is possible too. As focusing is not problem. But very difficult to direct very intense beams (not one) to hit mm sized target. They have conducted one NDCX-II experiment how they can control intense Lithium beam and I could not find any publication of results.

    15 million for HIF is laughable money. And even 150 millions.
  24. Jul 2, 2013 #23
    I don't know where you get your "facts" but they are wrong.

    When you say NIF is dead, I wonder if you're thinking about NIC (the national ignition campaign). NIC was an experimental campaign on NIF with the purpose of igniting a target. NIC ended last year, and yes it failed to ignite a target.

    However, the national ignition facility is still up and running. It is still doing experiments relevant to ICF along with basic science and weapons research.
  25. Jul 2, 2013 #24
  26. Jul 2, 2013 #25
    All my friends who work on NIF still work on NIF. The facility is still there. Just the 'civilian' ignition campaign is finished.

    This is essentially how I understand it from talking to friends and attending various talks. When NIF first came online, the initial run campaign (NIC) was going to be devoted to ignition, fusion energy, and ICF. After that, the bulk of the run time would be going to defense applications/stockpile stewardship. The breakdown I heard was 90/10 for defense/science; I'm sure this is a just a hand waving estimate.

    Mind you, its budget is up in the air right now. But I'm sure it will still be funded for NNSA purposes. Whether or not there will ever be another sustained ignition-for-fusion-energy-purposes I don't think has been determined. One of the problems I heard about the initial campaign was that the delay in implementing a target design change was significant. The pipeline for target creation is pretty long, so you can't just make an adjustment to target design and run with that target the next day.
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