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California Dedicated to Promoting Laser Technology
    2008-11-11 10:06:21     Xinhua

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger pledged Monday to further develop laser technology, which he said "has the potential to revolutionize our energy future."

In addition to its critical role in U.S. national security, one of the most significant potential applications of laser technology is in the area of clean energy, Schwarzenegger said.

He made the remarks during a tour of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, which is building the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world's largest laser system.

The NIF is expected to be completed in March 2009.

"If successful, this new endeavor could generate thousands of megawatts of carbon-free nuclear power but without the drawbacks of conventional nuclear plants," the governor said.

"This type of innovation is why we are a world leader in science, technology and clean energy, and I could not be prouder that this work is happening right here in California."

The new technology, called Laser Inertial Confinement Fusion-Fission Energy (LIFE), will ignite a fusion reaction when its 192 beams of light all converge in a chamber onto a tiny BB-sized target containing frozen hydrogen gas. In a pulse of energy lasting only a billionth of a second, the atoms inside the target will fuse together, creating a miniature star and igniting a fusion reaction.

This could eventually result in thousands of megawatts of carbon-free electricity while utilizing nuclear waste that would otherwise sit in storage for tens of thousands of years.

There are three phases to the LIFE project: research and development, a pilot plant and a demonstration plant. The goal is to have a large demonstration project for LIFE operating by 2020.

 
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