Will Scientists at the NIF produce a net energy gain > 200% from a fusion reaction in 2023?
resolved Jan 7

They just produced more than 150% last December and recently produced ~190%:


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predicted NO

@JamesBills Does the announcement of the net energy gain have to be before the end of the year, or just the actual reaction event?

bought Ṁ40 of NO

Except for LLNL, nobody said working on scientific doubling.

It takes 8 days for LLNL to share breakthrough, 17 days to report something publishable. Therefore guess November 19 experiment were not successful. December 19 experiment is unlikely to publish during holidays.

Only reasonably pending 2023 experiment was done on December 4, it's chances for report will fade over next week.

predicted YES

Summary as related to this question:

  • The actual first shot at the new 2.2 MJ level should be in November, 2023.

  • There will be several shots at the 2.2 MJ level from 2023-2025. These tests could achieve 2.6- to 6 X gain.

Need to wait till November.


This is less exciting than the press release when you realize the denominator is only the tiny percentage of the wall plug power consumption of the burst lasers that actually hits the fuel pellet.

bought Ṁ10 of YES

This question probably will remain cold till mid October.

LLNL NIF ICF Experiment schedule here: https://lasers.llnl.gov/for-users/nif-calendar.

There is only 1 upcoming ICF_STAG experiment Sept 17 till October.

Active exploration can be expected OCT, NOV, DEC + 2 weeks for them to publish results.

predicted YES

@AntonSpiridonov schedule was updated on Sep 13 with 3 added experiments 7 removed/slipped experiments in 2023, currently:

  • 1 in September

  • 4 in October

  • 4 in November

  • 2 in December

predicted YES

@AntonSpiridonov I am curious about why this is at 47%. If they've achieved 190% already, they just need a ~5% (10 percentage points) improvement for this to resolve yes, and you're saying that they'll try 11 more times before the end of the year. Is there a reason to believe that this 5% is especially hard? Is the 190% an outlier amid a sea of attempts? Or is this just mispriced?

bought Ṁ1 of YES

@Frogswap Not all experiments are for maximizing fusion output. Some experiments are testing new targets (fuel) and hohlraum (confiment), general safety etc. as they want to reduce cost of units as well.

They don't like to share information ahead, so once they have it they share many presentations, but not before that. Only available information is allocation of facility equipment.

predicted YES

Thanks both for the suggestions.

@JamesBuchanan do you have a link for the 30th July link?

predicted YES

@JamesBills Here's one: https://www.ft.com/content/a9815bca-1b9d-4ba0-8d01-96ede77ba06a They say the results are still being analyzed, so the reported number could jump around. They might squeeze out another good shot before the end of the year, now that they've evidently found a sweet spot.

It might be worth clarifying what the relevant quantity is, just in case future experiments report something different.

I'm assuming you mean (energy released in fusion reactions)/(energy output of lasers), based on the linked articles.

More recently, on July 30 of this year the lab successfully repeated ignition for the first time.

The second ft article linked above reports the 150% December shot (3.15 MJ from 2.05 MJ input), not a 170%.

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