Thermonuclear fusion and confinement
This chapter introduces inertial confinement fusion (ICF). For comparison, it also presents basic features of magnetic confinement fusion (MCF) and thermonuclear fusion in general. When addressing the goal of power production, these main approaches to controlled fusion are also referred to as inertial fusion energy (IFE) and magnetic fusion energy (MFE), respectively. While MFE aims for a steady-state plasma confined by a magnetic field, IFE is a pulsed concept, burning small fuel capsules at a rate of a few hertz. The underlying fusion reactions are the same and require similar plasma temperatures (of the order of the ideal ignition temperature), but densities differ by eleven orders of magnitude. This chapter provides an understanding of these plasma parameters in simple terms, by deriving the ideal ignition temperature and the confinement conditions for MCF (Lawson criterion) and high-gain ICF (ρR confinement condition). General features of fusion power production and different fuel cycles are also briefly addressed.
Keywords: thermonuclear fusion, inertial confinement fusion, inertial fusion energy, magnetic confinement fusion, magnetic fusion energy, confinement, ideal ignition temperature, Lawson criterion, ICF ρR confinement condition
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