From Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: “Researchers work to advance understanding of hydrodynamic instabilities in NIF, astrophysics”

From Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

July 16, 2018
Breanna Bishop

A simulation of Rayleigh-Taylor (RT) hydrodynamic instability created on Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s BlueGene/L supercomputer using the MIRANDA code. RT instability occurs when a light fluid accelerates a heavier fluid and is a fundamental fluid-mixing mechanism important to inertial confinement fusion applications, star formation dynamics, supernova explosions, planetary formation dynamics and asteroid impact dynamics.

LLNL Vulcan IBM Blue GeneQ system supercomputer

In a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) “Special Feature” paper published online June 26, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and University of Michigan researchers reported on recent experiments and techniques designed to improve understanding and control of hydrodynamic (fluid) instabilities in high energy density (HED) settings such as those that occur in inertial confinement fusion implosions on the National Ignition Facility (NIF).

This paper described four areas of HED research that focus on Rayleigh-Taylor (RT) instabilities, which arise when two fluids or plasmas of different densities are accelerated together, with the lighter (lower density) fluid pushing and accelerating the heavier (higher density) fluid.

These instabilities can degrade NIF implosion performance because they amplify target defects as well as perturbations caused by engineering features like the “tents” used to suspend the target capsule in the hohlraum and the fill tube that injects fusion fuel into the capsule.

Conversely, RT and its shock analog, the Richtmyer-Meshkov instability, are seen when stellar explosions (supernovae) eject their core material, such as titanium, iron and nickel, into interstellar space. The material penetrates through and outruns the outer envelopes of the lighter elements of silicon, oxygen, carbon, helium and hydrogen. In addition, a unique regime of HED solid-state plastic flow and hydrodynamic instabilities can occur in the dynamics of planetary formation and asteroid and meteor impacts.

The PNAS paper presents summaries of studies of a wide range of HED RT instabilities that are relevant to astrophysics, planetary science, hypervelocity impact dynamics and inertial confinement fusion (ICF).

The researchers said the studies, while aimed primarily at improving understanding of stabilization mechanisms in RT growth on NIF implosions, also offer “unique opportunities to study phenomena that typically can be found only in high-energy astrophysics, astronomy and planetary science,” such as the interiors of planets and stars, the dynamics of planetary formation, supernovae, cosmic gamma-ray bursts and galactic mergers.

NIF HED experiments can generate pressures up to 100 terapascals (one billion atmospheres). These extreme conditions allow research samples to be driven, or compressed, to the kinds of pressures found in planetary interiors and the interiors of brown dwarfs (sometimes called “failed stars”). They also lend themselves to studies of RT evolution ranging from hot, dense plasmas and burning hot spots at the center of ICF implosions to relatively cool, high-pressure materials undergoing solid-state plastic flow at high strain and strain rate.

“We found that the material strength in these high-pressure, solid-state, high-strain-rate plastic flow experiments is large and can significantly reduce the RT growth rates compared with classical values,” the researchers said. “These results are relevant to planetary formation dynamics at high pressures.”

“An intriguing consideration,” they added, “is the possibility of using these findings to enhance resistance to hydrodynamic instabilities in advanced designs of ICF capsule implosions.”

Joining lead author Bruce Remington on the paper were LLNL colleagues Hye-Sook Park, Dan Casey, Rob Cavallo, Dan Clark, Channing Huntington, Aaron Miles, Sabrina Nagel, Kumar Raman and Vladimir Smalyuk, along with Carolyn Kuranz of the University of Michigan.

See the full article here .


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LLNL Campus

Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is an American federal research facility in Livermore, California, United States, founded by the University of California, Berkeley in 1952. A Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), it is primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and managed and operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS), a partnership of the University of California, Bechtel, BWX Technologies, AECOM, and Battelle Memorial Institute in affiliation with the Texas A&M University System. In 2012, the laboratory had the synthetic chemical element livermorium named after it.

LLNL is self-described as “a premier research and development institution for science and technology applied to national security.”[1] Its principal responsibility is ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons through the application of advanced science, engineering and technology. The Laboratory also applies its special expertise and multidisciplinary capabilities to preventing the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction, bolstering homeland security and solving other nationally important problems, including energy and environmental security, basic science and economic competitiveness.

The Laboratory is located on a one-square-mile (2.6 km2) site at the eastern edge of Livermore. It also operates a 7,000 acres (28 km2) remote experimental test site, called Site 300, situated about 15 miles (24 km) southeast of the main lab site. LLNL has an annual budget of about $1.5 billion and a staff of roughly 5,800 employees.

LLNL was established in 1952 as the University of California Radiation Laboratory at Livermore, an offshoot of the existing UC Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley. It was intended to spur innovation and provide competition to the nuclear weapon design laboratory at Los Alamos in New Mexico, home of the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic weapons. Edward Teller and Ernest Lawrence,[2] director of the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley, are regarded as the co-founders of the Livermore facility.

The new laboratory was sited at a former naval air station of World War II. It was already home to several UC Radiation Laboratory projects that were too large for its location in the Berkeley Hills above the UC campus, including one of the first experiments in the magnetic approach to confined thermonuclear reactions (i.e. fusion). About half an hour southeast of Berkeley, the Livermore site provided much greater security for classified projects than an urban university campus.

Lawrence tapped 32-year-old Herbert York, a former graduate student of his, to run Livermore. Under York, the Lab had four main programs: Project Sherwood (the magnetic-fusion program), Project Whitney (the weapons-design program), diagnostic weapon experiments (both for the Los Alamos and Livermore laboratories), and a basic physics program. York and the new lab embraced the Lawrence “big science” approach, tackling challenging projects with physicists, chemists, engineers, and computational scientists working together in multidisciplinary teams. Lawrence died in August 1958 and shortly after, the university’s board of regents named both laboratories for him, as the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory.

Historically, the Berkeley and Livermore laboratories have had very close relationships on research projects, business operations, and staff. The Livermore Lab was established initially as a branch of the Berkeley laboratory. The Livermore lab was not officially severed administratively from the Berkeley lab until 1971. To this day, in official planning documents and records, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is designated as Site 100, Lawrence Livermore National Lab as Site 200, and LLNL’s remote test location as Site 300.[3]

The laboratory was renamed Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (LLL) in 1971. On October 1, 2007 LLNS assumed management of LLNL from the University of California, which had exclusively managed and operated the Laboratory since its inception 55 years before. The laboratory was honored in 2012 by having the synthetic chemical element livermorium named after it. The LLNS takeover of the laboratory has been controversial. In May 2013, an Alameda County jury awarded over $2.7 million to five former laboratory employees who were among 430 employees LLNS laid off during 2008.[4] The jury found that LLNS breached a contractual obligation to terminate the employees only for “reasonable cause.”[5] The five plaintiffs also have pending age discrimination claims against LLNS, which will be heard by a different jury in a separate trial.[6] There are 125 co-plaintiffs awaiting trial on similar claims against LLNS.[7] The May 2008 layoff was the first layoff at the laboratory in nearly 40 years.[6]

On March 14, 2011, the City of Livermore officially expanded the city’s boundaries to annex LLNL and move it within the city limits. The unanimous vote by the Livermore city council expanded Livermore’s southeastern boundaries to cover 15 land parcels covering 1,057 acres (4.28 km2) that comprise the LLNL site. The site was formerly an unincorporated area of Alameda County. The LLNL campus continues to be owned by the federal government.


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