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An inertial fusion power plant is intended to produce electric power by use of inertial confinement fusion techniques on an industrial scale. This type of power plant is still in a research phase.
Two established options for possible medium-term implementation of fusion energy production are magnetic confinement, being used in the ITER international project, and laser-based inertial confinement, as used in the French Laser Mégajoule and in the American NIF. Inertial confinement fusion (ICF), including heavy-ion inertial fusion (HIF), has been proposed as a possible additional means of implementing a fusion power plant.
To allow such an operation, an inertial fusion reactor is made of several subsets:
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Several projects of inertial fusion power plants have been proposed, including power production plans based on the following experimental devices, either in operation or under construction:
Only the US and French projects are based on z-pinch confinement; others are based on laser confinement techniques.
Livermore's IFE (LIFE) project was cancelled in January 2014.
As of June 2006, Megajoule and NIF lasers were not yet in complete service. Inertial confinement and laser confinement fusion experiments had not gone beyond the first phase. Around 2010, NIF and Megajoule were planned for completion.
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In the magnetic confinement field, the 2nd phase corresponds to the objectives of ITER, the 3rd to these of its follower DEMO, in 20 to 30 years, and the 4th to those of a possible PROTO, in 40 to 50 years. The various phases of such a project are the following: