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Neutron-Free Fusion Reactions in Laser Plasma

#3710


Neutron-Free Fusion Reactions in Laser Plasma

Tech Area / Field

  • FUS-PLA/Plasma Physics/Fusion

Status
3 Approved without Funding

Registration date
07.03.2007

Leading Institute
Central Research Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMash), Russia, Moscow reg., Korolev

Supporting institutes

  • Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Russia, Moscow reg., Dolgoprudny\nFIAN Lebedev, Russia, Moscow

Collaborators

  • CNRS / Universite Pierre & Marie Curie / Phisique Atomique dans les Plasmas Denses, France, Ivry-sur-Seine\nScience and Technology Facilities Council / Central Laser Facility (CLRC), UK, Didcot\nUniversité de Paris VI / Laboratoire pour l'Utilisation des Lasers Intenses (LULI) / Laboratoire de Physique Atomique dans les Plasmas Denses, France, Paris\nUniversidad Politecnica de Madrid / Instituto de Fusion Nuclear, Spain, Madrid\nImperial College London / Department of Physics, UK, London\nNational Research Council Canada / Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences, Canada, ON, Ottawa

Project summary

The reaction D+Tα+n+17.6 MeV is considered in a traditional scheme of a controlled thermonuclear fusion. The use of that reaction is determined by a greater rate, as compared to other reactions, at a relatively low temperature (of several keV). However, it has a number of drawbacks. The most part of the released energy (80%) is concentrated in hard neutrons (14 MeV). The utilization of that part of energy is quite a complex problem, and its efficiency is rather low (not more than 40%). In addition, the hard neutrons cause an induced radio-activity of the construction materials. Another drawback of that reaction is a necessity of operation with tritium. Tritium is a radio-active element, and it is required to run a cycle of tritium production in a lithium blanket n+6LiT+α+4.78 MeV. A scheme of a controlled fusion with a DT reaction is a certain stage, which permits one to demonstrate a feasibility of realization of the controlled thermonuclear fusion. Therefore, along with the DT reaction, the so called neutron-free (or “pure”) reactions are considered [1-3], such as p+9Be→α+6Li+2.13 MeV; p+11B3α+8.68 MeV; p+6Liα+3He+4.02 MeV, and 3He+3He→α+2p+12.86 MeV. They are “pure” because they are not accompanied by the birth of neutrons or radionuclides.

Also the conditionally neutron-free reactions D+3He→α+p+18.34 MeV and D+6Li→2α+22.4 MeV are studied, where the neutrons may arise in a primary DD reaction.

The neutron-free or conditionally neutron-free reactions, as compared to the D-T-6Li cycle, are advantageous, because the main energy is deposited to the charged particles, it is much easier to utilize that energy, and no induced radioactivity of the construction materials is present.

In this connection, the realization of conditions for the occurrence of neutron-free thermonuclear reactions in plasma should help to develop ecologically pure methods for the thermonuclear energy utilization. The respective plasma parameters for such systems with magnetic confinement must sustain very strict requirements due to high values of ion temperature that is required for ignition of such nuclear reactions. At the same time, one can achieve the required ion energy in the plasma produced by ultra-short laser pulses.

As shown by our experimental studies the fast ions are generated already at intensity 1018 W/сm2 in the laser picosecond plasma. The important feature of the fast ions energy distribution is the slow decrease of the distribution function with the energy up to the energy 1.4 MeV.

In this connection it is of interest to carry out a direct experimental demonstration of a possibility of generation of “pure” thermonuclear reactions in the ultra-short laser pulse plasma.

In our work fulfilled within the framework of the ISTC Project #2155 there was recorded, for the first time, the yield of alpha-particles in the neutron-free thermonuclear 11В+Н reactions occurring in the plasma produced by picosecond laser pulses at radiation intensity of 1018 W/сm2.

So, in the laser picosecond plasma produced at 1018–1019 W/сm2 laser radiation interaction with a target one can observe experimentally the above “pure” (neutron-free) and conditionally neutron-free reactions. It should be mentioned that most of the noted “pure” (neutron-free) and conditionally neutron-free reactions had not been studied in detail.

Theoretical and experimental investigation of such reactions is of certain interest for the development and realization of the principally new and ecologically pure energy technologies.

The aims of the Project are:

  • Development of the theoretical models for the kinematics of occurrence of “pure” (neutron-free) and conditionally neutron-free reactions in a laser-produced picosecond plasma;
  • Experimental investigation of “pure” (neutron-free) and conditionally neutron-free reactions in the laser picosecond plasma at intensities 1018 1019 W/сm2, ~ 1 ps duration, and 1 m laser radiation wavelength;
  • Development of the grounds for the new ecologically pure energy technologies on the basis of “pure” (neutron-free) and conditionally neutron-free reactions in the laser plasma.

The competence of the project participants in these problems is based on their vast previous experience in the studies of the laser plasma dynamics and the atomic and nuclear processes in the laser-produced plasma. The TSNIIMASH owns the sufficient experimental base for realization of the project purposes.

The expected results and possible applications. The Project belongs to the category of basic studies. In the process of its implementation there will be obtained new knowledge, the main elements of which are:

  1. Theoretical models of the kinematics of occurrence of “pure” (neutron-free) and conditionally neutron-free reactions in the picosecond laser plasma;
  2. The calculation of parameters of the atomic and nuclear processes and the optimization of the particles yield and their characteristics under the occurence of “pure” (neutron-free) and conditionally neutron-free reactions in the picosecond laser plasma;
  3. Experimental results on defining the optimal conditions for the stimulation of “pure” (neutron-free) and conditionally neutron-free reactions in the picosecond laser plasma basing on the laser radiation parameters, geometry of the experiments, and the target material and structure;
  4. Recommendations on a development of new ecologically pure energy technologies on the basis of “pure” (neutron-free) and conditionally neutron-free reactions in the picosecond laser plasma.

The obtained knowledge will provide information about the physics of occurrence of the “pure” (neutron-free) reactions in the picosecond laser plasma, and should allow one to prepare proposals for the development of new ecologically pure energy technologies, such as:
  1. Development of recommendations on the use of “pure” (neutron-free) reactions in the laser inertial fusion;
  2. Development of recommendations to the creation of a short-pulse source of fast charged particles (-particles and ions).

Realization of purposes and tasks of the ISTC. The principal goals and tasks described in the Project Agreement about the institution and Charter of ISTC will be realized in the process of project fulfillment, namely:
  1. The scientists engaged earlier in the development of cosmic missiles and nuclear weapon in Russia will be given a chance to apply their efforts to the development of civil fundamental scientific problems.
  2. The scientists will be given additional opportunities to integrate into the international scientific community by exchanging the results, participation in international conferences, meetings and seminars attended by the specialists of the leading foreign scientific centers.
  3. The fundamental research and development of radically new ecologically pure energy technologies will be given support.
  4. A support will be given to the solution of a national and international technical problem: the development and creation of new ecologically pure energy sources and technologies of their utilization.

Scope of activity. The work on the Project includes theoretical (including numerical calculations) and experimental studies, as well as the development of recommendations to a creation of new energy technologies. The scope of activity covers the fulfillment of the following tasks:

Theoretical studies:

  1. Development of the theoretical models of kinematics of the occurrence of “pure” (neutron-free) and conditionally neutron-free reactions in the picosecond laser plasma;
  2. Simulations of the atomic and nuclear processes under conditions of occurrence of “pure” (neutron-free) reactions in the picosecond laser plasma;
  3. Investigation of the energy processes in the laser picosecond plasma at occurrence of the “pure” (neutron-free) reactions.

Experimental studies:
  1. Experimental studies of the “pure” (neutron-free) and conditionally neutron-free reactions in the picosecond laser plasma at the intensity 1018 – 1019 W/сm2.
  2. Experimental studies on the optimization of conditions for the stimulation of “pure” (neutron-free) reactions in the picosecond laser plasma in respect to the laser radiation parameters, geometry of the experiment, and the target material and structure.

The role of the foreign Collaborators includes the exchange of information in the course of the Project implementation, bridging of the Project executors with foreign companies and scientists, who are interested in the studies in question, comparison of the Project results with the results of the foreign research centers, testing and verification of the discovered effects and of the efficiency of the proposed models on the experimental setups of the foreign centers, and finally, organization of further investigations to be performed in frames of the joint projects and programs.

Technical approach and the Project methodology provide for the use of the up-to-date theoretical and experimental methods for the nuclear processes investigations at the occurrence of “pure” (neutron-free) reactions in the picosecond laser plasma. The theory of the processes will be based on the approaches developed in the ISTC Projects N 856 and 2155, the methodology worked out at the Kurchatov’s Institute, and the scientific researches of the Project participants. The experimental model investigations are to be carried out on a laser arrangement equipped with a complex of the diagnostic devices for studying the atomic and nuclear processes in the laser-produced plasmas.


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