Nov. 12, 2012 – By Steven B. Krivit –
The largest inertial confinement fusion research project in the U.S., the optimistically named National Ignition Facility, in Livermore, Calif., failed to ignite by its September goal. Although the federal government has spent $3.5 billion since beginning the project in 1997, the facility did not produce one Watt of excess heat.
As a result of its failure to achieve its goal, NIF officials will shift more of the project’s focus from peaceful uses of nuclear energy research to nuclear weapons research.
In 2005, according to Science, the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the NIF project, adopted the National Ignition Campaign: a two-year road map to ignition. That two-year plan was extended to September 2012 because of technical problems during NIF’s construction. But NIF didn’t ignite as promised, according to the New York Times.
In an article at the DVICE blog, journalist Evan Ackerman made an insightful observation. He explained the paradox that, rather than enhance global stability through the peaceful use of nuclear fusion energy, NIF will shift more of its resources toward nuclear weapons testing.