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ARIES Documents -- Meetings Archive

ARIES Conference Call, 6 January 2009

Documented by L. Waganer

(ANL) -
(Boeing) Waganer, Weaver
(DOE) -
(FPA) -
(FZK) -
(GA) Schultz, Turnbull
(GT) Abdel-Khalik, Yoda
(PPPL) Meade, Zarnstorff
(UCSD) Dragojlovic, Najmabadi, Raffray, Tillack, Wang


The FESAC meeting is still planned to be held at the Hilton Gaithersburg hotel in Gaithersburg, MD, but the meeting is now scheduled for only one day, January 13, 2009. The agenda has been published and the TRL presentations by Mark Tillack and David Whelan, Boeing, are scheduled for the meeting. This conference call will review these presentations and recommend changes to better convey the TRL methodology and potential usage.

Les Waganer mentioned the next ARIES meeting will be held in San Diego on January 21-22, 2009, with January 21 (Wednesday) being a full day and January 22 (Thursday) only a morning session. Les has sent out a draft agenda for comment. He also has distributed the draft minutes from the December 16, 2008 conference call for review.

Review and Recommendations for the FESAC TRL Presentations

Both the Tillack and Whelan TRL presentations for the January 2009 FESAC meeting were temporarily posted on the main ARIES web site for review. [Note that the presentations on the ARIES web site have already incorporated the suggestions and comments noted below. The discussions below related to the versions as they existed on January 6th, 2009.] Links to the FESAC presentations are now on the FESAC meeting agenda page. The purpose of these presentations to the FESAC Committee is to introduce the concept, methodology, and utilization of Technical Readiness Levels (TRL) to help quantify the maturity of the fusion technology developments and identify the future developments of these technologies that lead to the commercialization of fusion energy.

Mark Tillack initiated the discussion noting that he had presented the essence of his talk on four previous occasions to different segments of the fusion community with very positive feedback and encouragement. Les Waganer suggested that information be included in the first slide or mentioned at the onset. Links should also be provided to the backup data.

Since this talk on TRL had not previously been supported by the industry viewpoint (i.e., Whelan's talk), Mark's talk covered both the background and purpose of TRLs as well as the application to the fusion technology development. When presented in conjunction with Whelan's talk, Mark recommended that the talks would be more understandable if Mark would present the introductory material, then David Whelan would present the industrial perspective, and then Mark would follow with the ARIES suggested approach for TRL utilization in the fusion development.

It was agreed that it would be best to show some examples of defined TRLs of existing fusion component technology to illustrate our understanding of its current maturity level and what remains to be developed to incorporate that mature technology into an operating fusion power plant. Mark was planning on showing the heat and particle flux handling technology, but it was recommended that he also show Alan Turnbull's plasma power control TRL example. The plasma power control would show a broader application of this methodology and extend this methodology into the plasma physics arena.

Said Abdel-Khalik was more concerned about the bigger picture of how this TRL methodology can be used in the decision making process to identify what technologies are dead-ended and when to move to an alternate approach. It should be clearly identified that TRLs are only used to quantify the maturity of a technology toward an application in a specific end product. It also identifies the issues and developmental steps (fidelity of hardware and software and fidelity of test environments). However, it does not identify the technical, schedule, or cost risk associated with this technology. It is not a substitute for program plans or risk mitigation plans, but it does provide supporting data.

There was a lot of discussion about the inclusion of Mark's last three evaluation slides that illustrated the current TRLs of the major technology areas for a tokamak fusion power plant and how ITER and a CTF will/might contribute to advancing the TRLs. These charts are likely to spark a lot of discussion and controversy in the FESAC meeting. It was agreed that the intent is to generate discussion; however it must be clear that these data shown are preliminary and primarily from the ARIES team. If this methodology is to be used by the fusion community, much more in-depth evaluations are necessary to hone the data.

It was recommended to add a conclusions slide.

[At the time of this conference call documentation, most, if not all, of these recommendations have been incorporated into the presentation materials and they have been forwarded to OFES.]