NRN AEM researchers develop a breakthrough microfluidic method
01 Oct 2017
NRN Principal Investigator, Professor David Barrow led the team of researchers from Cardiff University in discovering a new method that could address the demand and cost requirements of intertial fusion energy (IFE). At present the current methods of target fabrication produce targets in a bespoke manner and at a high price posing a critical challenge for IFE generation; it is this NRN funded project that is demonstrating how achieving these IFE production means are possible.
The project , NRN097, has led to the optimisation of three steps in the new process for IFE target shell production aiming to tackle this problem. In addressing this they have developed a continuous flow reactor method that uses multiphase droplet microfluidics to generate monodisperse double-emulsion droplets. These droplets can then be used as templates to fabricate the shells needed for IFE targets. The steps for this novel method for IFE Target Production are as follows:
- Forming double-emulsion droplets
- Centralising the double-emulsion droplets
- ultrafast shell-phase polymerisation
Dr. Jin Li, who works alongside Professor Barrow on this project explains that the new approach “exhibits a promising way to scale up such IFE target fabrication.” Ultimately this novel method could potentially increase the IFE target production rate to meet future demands.
Image 1: A microcapsule that can be used in ICF. Image in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.