deglr6328 writes: The long beleaguered experimental magnetic confinement fusion reactor ITER, is currently in what some are calling the worst crisis of its 25 year history. Still existing only on the paper of thousands of proposed design documents, latest cost estimates for the superconducting behemoth are soaring to nearly 20 billion USD; roughly twice the estimates of as recent as a few years ago. Anti-nuclear environmentalist organizations have seized upon the moment as an opportunity to use the current global economic crisis as a means to push for permanently killing the project. If ITER is not built, the prospect of magnetic confinement fusion as a technique to reach thermonuclear breakeven and ignition in the laboratory would be in serious question. Meanwhile, the largest laser-driven inertial confinement fusion project, the National Ignition Facility, has demonstrated the ability to use self generated plasma optical gratings to control capsule implosion symmetry with high finesse, and is on schedule to achieve ignition and potentially high gain before the end of the year.
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