Energy-positive laser fusion approach heads toward commercialization (David Szondy, June 19, 2024, New Atlas)

Since 2022, the Denver-based company has been working to turn the laser fusion concept into a practical source of power. The goal is to produce a new krypton-fluoride laser installation that generates 10 times higher laser energy at 10 times higher efficiency and over 30 times lower cost per joule than the NIF.

Using technology first developed for the US Strategic Defense Initiative (nicknamed the Star Wars program) in the 1980s, the Xcimer installation will use a laser system producing over 10 megajoules of energy. This will be focused on larger deuterium/tritium pellets that are easier to make and handle, and produce more energy when ignited.

Producing energy is useless if it isn’t harnessed, so the fusion chamber has molten lithium salts flowing through it, not only to protect the wall from neutrons, which reduces maintenance, but to absorb the energy and carry it away to generate power.

The idea is that the lasers will stand at a distance of 164 ft (50 m) and focus their beams through two small holes to reach the target pellet. The system is designed to ignite only a small amount of the fuel, which produces the energy needed to ignite the remainder like a match set to paper. This is more efficient and economical.

“The benefits of fusion for humanity have never been more clear or more necessary,” said Mark Cupta, Xcimer board member. “Xcimer has developed a game-changing approach to inertial fusion and assembled a team of the brightest minds in the industry to execute on it. I’m confident that with Xcimer leading us on this path, the world will see this transformative source of energy finally deployed at commercial scale.”

Thanks, Gipper!