Power Conditioning System

NIF Capacitor Bay
Deployed throughout four 1,150-square-meter (12,500-square-foot) capacitor bays, the power conditioning system stores approximately 400 megajoules (million joules) of electrical energy for each NIF shot.

The NIF power conditioning system (PCS) drives the 7,680 flashlamps located in the NIF laser’s main and power amplifiers, delivering nearly 330 million joules of electrical energy on each NIF shot. Energy is stored over a period of 60 seconds in 3,840 high-voltage capacitors before being released in a 400-microsecond burst.

Power Conditioning System Cables
The power conditioning system has more than 160 kilometers (100 miles) of high-voltage cable.

Peak current for the system exceeds 100 million amperes and the peak power exceeds 1 terawatt (1 trillion watts)—more power than the entire United States uses in that same fraction of a second.

The system comprises 192 modules, eight modules for each bundle of eight laser beams. In addition to a main energy storage circuit, each module contains a pre-ionization circuit designed to prepare the flashlamps for the main discharge as well as provide information on the health of the system’s flashlamps following each main discharge. Individual modules weigh more than 11 tons and are more than 3 meters tall, 4 meters long, and 3 meters deep.

All modules are operated by a single operator using a custom integrated software control system. Every module is equipped with an embedded controller that controls and diagnoses all components and functions inside the module and communicates to the supervisory control system over high-speed Ethernet connections.

The modules were produced by NIF’s industrial partners and delivered as working units to the facility. Production of the power conditioning modules was completed in December 2007.

More Information

“Powering Lasers Around the World,” NIF & Photon Science News, February, 2018

“New Power Supplies Will Keep NIF on Target,” NIF & Photon Science News, November, 2015

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