Fusion Space Propulsion using Fast-Ignition Inertial Confinement Fusion (FI-ICF)

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G. H. Miley et al. (2010), JBIS, 63, pp.387-390

Refcode: 2010.63.387
Keywords: Fast Ignition, space propulsion, Inertial Confinement Fusion

Use of laser-driven Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) for space propulsion has been examined in several earlier conceptual design studies. However, these designs used older ICF target technology. Important new directions opened following the development of “chirped” lasers capable of ultra-short ps pulses with powers of PWs. This allows fast ignition (FI) for high energy gain ICF power plants. The FI approach uses a conventional laser to pre-compress the target to high density followed by a PW laser pulse to heat a hot spot that ignites the burn. In the deuteron beam version, the PW laser is fired on a converter plate in front of the ICF target, creating an intense deuteron ion beam that ignites the fusion burn in a central core of the target. It is estimated that using a 10 TW-ps laser for FI can achieve fusion energy gains >103. Application of deuteron beam fast ignition to the earlier VISTA design for ICF space propulsion unit is considered here.

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