October 7, 2008--A prestigious launch event was held yesterday at the Science Museum in London to mark the start of the HiPER Preparatory Phase Project. The High Power laser for Energy Research (HiPER) project, headquartered at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (near Oxford, England), consists of a large-scale laser system designed to demonstrate significant energy production from inertial fusion, while supporting a broad base of high-power laser interaction science.
In the 1970s it was demonstrated that lasers could be used to implode a capsule of fusion fuel to release significant energy--a process called 'inertial fusion'. There was much laser development around the world to realize the kinds of lasers needed to drive such capsules to the point where this energy release could be harnessed. With the latest generation of lasers (NIF in California and LMJ in France), scientists believe they are on the threshold of achieving "ignition." This is the demonstration of a self-sustaining fusion reaction with a net production of energy. That is, a reaction which releases more fusion energy from the capsule than is delivered by the laser system. Current plans confidently predict this transformational event in the period 2010 to 2012.
The launch will be hosted by professor Mike Dunne (project leader) and professor John Wood (International steering committee). The event will include representatives from each of the 25 institutions across 10 nations that are participating in the HiPER project. The first meeting of the Participant's Forum will be held the following today in London. Attendance is by invitation only. HiPER was accepted onto the European (ESFRI) roadmap of future research infrastructures in October 2006
For more information, visit www.hiper-laser.org.