[Scientific Reports] Continuous and scalable polymer capsule processing for inertial fusion energy t
High specification, polymer capsules, to produce inertial fusion energy targets, were continuously fabricated using surfactant-free, inertial centralisation, and ultrafast polymerisation, in a scalable flow reactor. Laser-driven, inertial confinement fusion depends upon the interaction of high-energy lasers and hydrogen isotopes, contained within small, spherical and concentric target shells, causing a nuclear fusion reaction at ~150 M°C. Potentially, targets will be consumed at ~1 M per day per reactor, demanding a 5000x unit cost reduction to ~$0.20, and is a critical, key challenge. Experimentally, double emulsions were used as templates for capsule-shells, and were formed at 20 Hz, on a fluidic chip. Droplets were centralised in a dynamic flow, and their shapes both evaluated, and mathematically modeled, before subsequent shell solidification. The shells were photo-cured individually, on-the-fly, with precisely-actuated, millisecond-length (70 ms), uniform-intensity UV pulses, delivered through eight, radially orchestrated light-pipes. The near 100% yield rate of uniform shells had a minimum 99.0% concentricity and sphericity, and the solidification processing period was significantly reduced, over conventional batch methods. The data suggest the new possibility of a continuous, on-the-fly, IFE target fabrication process, employing sequential processing operations within a continuous enclosed duct system, which may include cryogenic fuel-filling, and shell curing, to produce ready-to-use IFE targets.
Jin Li, Jack Lindley-Start, Adrian Porch & David Barrow Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 6302 (2017) doi:10.1038/s41598-017-06746-3