Mike Dunne, the National Ignition Facility’s director for laser fusion energy, is expecting the giant laser system to generate fusion with energy gain, or “burn”, by the end of 2012.
Deputizing for NIF director Ed Moses in a Photonics West 2012 plenary talk, Dunne said that the ignition campaign was now in its latter stages. “We are now in a position to say with some confidence that ignition will happen in the next 6-18 months,” stated the former head of the HiPER European laser fusion project, adding that he felt personally that the breakthrough was likely to happen in around nine months.
There’s also a little bit about LIFE in the article, which is supposed to use 10-meter long diode-pumped laser units (rather than flash lamps, as NIF uses) and, as I’ve read from other sources, lead (rather than gold) hohlraums. LIFE is projected to begin operations in the mid-2020s, with the first commercial power plants around 2035…assuming something better doesn’t come along first.