By Vena Carter

ISBN-10: 9380168926

ISBN-13: 9789380168920

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Given the correct conditions, the fusion rate in the region highly compressed by the shock wave can give off significant amounts of highly energetic alpha particles. Due to the high density of the surrounding fuel, they move only a short distance be fore being "thermalized", losing their energy to the fuel as heat. This additional energy will cause additional fusion reactions in the heated fuel, giving off more high-energy particles. This process spreads outward from the center, leading to a kind of self sustaining burn known as ignition.

The first credible attempts at ignition are scheduled for 2010. A more recent development is the concept of "fast ignition", which may offer a way to directly heat the high density fuel after compression, thus decoupling the heating and compression phases of the implosion. In this approach the target is first compressed "normally" using a driver laser system, and then when the implosion reaches maximum density (at the stagnation point or "bang time"), a second ultra-short pulse ultra-high power petawatt (PW) laser delivers a single pulse focused on one side of the core, dramatically heating it and hope fully starting fusion ignition.

A variety of mechanisms transfers the energy of the "trigge r"'s explosion into the fusion fuel. The use of a nuclear bomb to ignite a fusion reaction makes the concept less than useful as a power source. Not only would the triggers be prohibitively expensive to produce, but there is a minimum size that such a bomb can be built, defined roughly by the critical mass of the plutonium fuel used. Generally it seems difficult to build nuclear devices smaller than about 1 kiloton in size, which would make it a difficult engineering problem to extract power from the resulting explosions.

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Advanced Nuclear Physics by Vena Carter


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