New accelerator to study steps on the path to fusion
Berkeley Lab scientists and engineers announced in a press release on May 8 that they have completed a machine tailor-made to examine one approach to fusion power.
Scientists designed the particle accelerator, called the second-generation Neutralized Drift Compression Experiment, to make advances in the acceleration, compression and focusing of intense ion beams used in research into heavy-ion fusion. These beams can deliver a powerful punch to a thin target, heating the material quickly and evenly.
The eventual goal of heavy-ion fusion is to produce electrical power with particle accelerators through a process called inertial confinement fusion, in which the careful heating and compressing of a pellet of fuel sets off a nuclear fusion reaction.
Scientists and engineers from Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory worked together as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Heavy Ion Fusion Science Virtual National Laboratory to build the machine.