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ANS President Urges Restoration of Fusion Technology Program

March 29, 2004

In written testimony to the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development of the House Committee on Appropriations, Larry Foulke, President of the American Nuclear Society, urged the Subcommittee to restore "at least $5M to the Fusion Technologies and Advanced Design categories as part of the FY 2005 budget of the Department of Energy, Office of Science, Fusion Energy Sciences program." The Department has proposed to terminate all Fusion Technology effort in FY 2005 (FPN04-17).

Foulke said, "It is difficult to understand this decision to terminate the fusion technology program given the support for fusion energy research at the highest Administration levels, the plan for the US to join construction of the ITER device which is the highest priority facility listed in DOE Office of Science's Strategic Plan, and the continuing construction of the National Ignition Facility."

Foulke said, "It would seem prudent to maintain some balance in the program between science and technology and between MFE (magnetic fusion energy) and IFE (inertial fusion energy). This is reflected in several statements from the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) in regard then to the FY 2004 budget. At that time, DOE had proposed to terminate the fusion technology effort in FY 2004 but a Congressional add-on and a strongly-worded letter from FESAC helped to provide a reprieve. The FY 2005 budget request includes the same fusion technology funding cuts which, as part of the FY 2004 budget, were criticized by FESAC in 2003."

Foulke said, "Fusion technology research addresses the fundamental scientific issues that will be encountered in fusion systems with substantial amount of fusion energy (including such fusion facilities as ITER and NIF). It provides solutions to near term technology issues that will certainly arise in building and operating facilities like the NIF and ITER. The advanced design and analysis of fusion energy systems provide a vision of the ultimate fusion energy goal and a tool that is useful for guiding the highest leverage near term scientific research."

Foulke expressed "our concern regarding recent changes in the direction of US fusion research," as reflected in a recent statement of DOE Office of Science Director Ray Orbach, "now is not the right time for us to invest in energy related R&D for fusion, for either MFE or for IFE," (FPN04-17). He noted that "Other participants in ITER, in particular EU and Japan, have strong programs in fusion technology R&D in preparation for testing in ITER and leading to a power reactor in the future. It would be regretful at this stage for the US to pull out of this R&D area and to be left in the precarious position of having to catch-up with our international partners in the future once we decide to seriously develop the advanced technology required for attractive fusion power plants (of either MFE or IFE types.)."

The complete text to Foulke's testimony is available from Fusion Power Associates (fpa@fusionpwrassoc.org).