My most recent book is on fusion, and I spend a bit of time discussing NIF. FuManchu is absolutely right; this is a weapons project dressed up as an energy project. For a number of reasons, NIF will never lead the way to a fusion power plant. (And, sadly, it won't be very good as a weapons project either.)
But, yes, I think that pretending that this is an energy project is a lie. I think that the fault lies with fusion scientists -- the intellectual heirs of Edward Teller -- for the deception.
So the criticism is that you can't keep feeding it fuel, only cyclically fuel it and then produce a single pulse of energy.
While I'm sure there are a lot of major engineering challenges between here and there, this issue really didn't hurt the internal combustion engine all that much.
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