The question, Moses said, is "Can we build a miniature Sun on Earth?" The recipe involves a peppercorn-size target of hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium heated to 200 million degrees Fahrenheit for a couple billionths of a second. To get that micro-blast of heat, the National Ignition Facility (NIF) uses lasers---coherent light---at a massive scale. Laser engineer Moses notes that photons are perfect for the job: "no mass, no charge, just energy."
Moses ran a dramatic video showing how a shot at the NIF works. 20-foot-long slugs of amplified coherent light (10 nanoseconds) travel 1,500 yards and converge simultaneously through 192 beams on the tiny target, compressing and heating it to fusion ignition, with a yield of energy 10 to 100 times of what goes into it. Successful early test shots suggest that the NIF will achieve the first ignition within the next few months, and that shot will be heard round the world.
TAE asks the question no one else does: where does Ed expect to get all that tritium? Ed claims that "1 liter of heavy water will yield the energy of 2 million gallons of gas."
But TAE knows from his own research into betavoltaics that suggesting that there is 1/2 liter of tritium (I'm assuming his tritium-deuterium mix is 50/50 for simplicity) on Earth borders on the absurd. Also, 2 million gallons of gas really isn't all that much. America uses 3 million gallons of gas a day, depending on who you ask.
Ed makes this hilariously absurd claim: " there is no such thing as peak hydrogen." So suddenly we're talking about hydrogen fusion...not deuterium and tritium? This is such a misleading comment. The problem is that no one has had any luck fusing pure hydrogen - which is why the LLNL team is using deuterium and tritium in their experiments. In fact, its pretty safe for me to say "the only being capable of sustained hydrogen fusion is God."
Nevertheless, Ed seems to think that in ten years we'll have nuclear fusion power plants chugging along at a fair clip, ushering in a new, clean era.
And yet, I have to keep asking: "Ed, where are you going to get all that tritium? Only 500 pounds of it have been made since 1955!" There is such a thing as peak tritium.
TAE reminds his audience that he is a huge proponent of fusion power. But the LLNL technique isn't the solution, rather it is a great method for data acquisition. A sustained nuclear fusion plant will need to either break the barrier and fuse hydrogen (protium), or we need to start mining helium-3 from the Moon, where it is fairly plentiful.