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Senate Appropriations 2007 Fusion Markup

July 6, 2006

The Senate Appropriations Committee marked up the FY2007 DOE budget bill, including funds for fusion. The Senate markup must be reconciled with the House Appropriations bill passed earlier (FPN06-39).

For the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, the Senate mark provides the full funding requested by the President, as does the House mark. However, in the Senate version, $11,949,000 requested for Heavy Ion Fusion and High Energy Density Physics would be transferred to a proposed new Office for High Energy Density Science within the Office of Science. Other funds, as discussed below, would be transferred from other (primarily weapons) DOE programs into the proposed new office. The action reflects continued Congressional dissatisfaction with the Department for not requesting adequate funding for inertial confinement fusion for energy applications.

The language from the Senate Appropriations Committee report is as follows:


For Fusion Energy Sciences, the Committee recommends $307,001,000. This program advances plasma science, fusion science, and fusion technology through collaborations among U.S. universities, industry, national research laboratories, and the international fusion community. Consistent with budget descriptions, the Committee has shifted $11,949,000 provided for High Energy Density Science to the new office within the Department of Energy.


The Committee recommends the creation of a new discipline within the Office of Science to support the growing research in high energy density sciences currently being pursued within the Office of Science, the National Nuclear Security Administration and universities worldwide. With his recent elevation of position, from Director to Under Secretary, the Under Secretary is increasing his field of view and now has the responsibility of developing science at all the labs within the Department, not just the Office of Science. As such, the Committee recommends that a new office be created to consolidate and support research in high energy density physics. This office will be charged with supporting research in inertial fusion energy, fast ignition, petawatt laser development, plasma accelerators and other laboratory and university sponsored research related to high energy density science that is presently funded within the Fusion Energy, Nuclear Physics, High Energy Physics and the NNSA, ICF accounts. This research has important applications ranging from materials research to fusion energy and fundamental research into the make up and reactions of nuclear matter. One of the of the primary responsibilities for this new program will be to establish a peer-reviewed technology and research and development roadmap to support a robust experimental program. This R&D roadmap is due to the Committee by March 31, 2007. The Committee directs the Department to break out the funding within the existing budgets and programs and consolidate within this new office. The Committee provides $79,924,000 to support this new research account, funded equally between the Office of Science and the NNSA and consistent with the high energy density research allocation within the Office of Science. Funding shall be drawn from the following accounts: $11,949,000 from the Fusion Energy Account, $20,000,000 from Nuclear Physics, and $8,310,000 from High Energy Physics. In addition, the Committee has provided funding from the ICF budget that includes the following: $8,903,000 to support university grants and $30,000,000 to support research on z pinches, high average power lasers and other HED research that has been exclusively funded within the NNSA accounts. The Committee provides $7,000,000 for the continued operation and experimental program on the Atlas Pulse Power Machine. This funding is in addition to the funding provided within the NNSA. Additionally, the Committee recommendation includes $2,000,000 for the Nevada Terawatt Facility for joint research on dynamics of materials under extreme conditions; and $2,000,000 for UNR to continue its advanced research on Z-pinch and wire array physics. The Committee directs the Department to renew its base Nevada Terawatt Facility high energy density physics research cooperative agreement at financial levels consistent with the current year. The Committee recommendation includes $5,300,000 above the budget request for fast ignition research. The Committee provides $3,000,000 in the ICF and High Yield Science Campaign of the NNSA to continue the development of a short pulse laser at the University of Texas at Austin, and $2,000,000 for continued collaborative research under the z-Petawatt Consortium for operations at the Z-Beamlet laser facility at Sandia National Laboratories, and $1,000,000 for collaborative research.

The Department is directed to convene an advisory board to develop a technology roadmap for this program and provide the Congress with a plan to support HED science while contributing to the operations at the various facilities in the NNSA. The Committee strongly urges the Department to eliminate barriers to discovery that have developed by historic jurisdictional boundaries and line management responsibility.


Inertial Confinement Fusion and High Yield Campaign

The Committee recommends $412,256,000, a reduction of $38,935,000 from the budget request. The NNSA has implemented the National Ignition Campaign and declared it an “enhanced management” activity, which appears to be nothing more than a NIF-at-all-costs-strategy. The NNSA has pursued this agenda as a means to justify an aggressive spending baseline at the expense of other compelling stewardship responsibilities in the ICF campaign. The NNSA has proven unable to maintain a balanced ICF and high yield research program. As such the Committee has reallocated funding out of NIF demonstration and Construction activities to ensure that there is adequate program balance.

Ignition. The Committee recommends $69,763,000, a reduction of $10,000,000, from the budget request. This reduction has been used to offset an imbalance in research priorities.

Support of Other Stockpile Programs. The Committee recommends $25,872,000. This account has also suffered as a result of the NIF program. The additional funding provides for the support of research into high energy density physics within other campaigns. The additional funding will be to increase the utilization of the Z machine and work to integrate the Z petawatt laser and support stockpile stewardship activities that are being delayed as a result of the NIF priorities. The JASONS recommended in their review of NIF that the NNSA develop an “aggressive program of experiments on high energy density laser and Z pinch facilities” in order to understand the physics challenges and understand computer models. The report also found that the “the plans to use LIL and Z/ZR are not yet adequately developed.” The Committee recognizes that the Department just completed a refurbishment of Z/ZR making a substantial investment of over $60,000,000 to improve the operational capabilities. The Committee directs the Department to fully utilize the Z machine. Funding is provided to support expanded operations and HED stockpile stewardship R&D that has been delayed until 2011.

NIF Diagnostics, Cryogenics and Experimental Support. Unlike the funding provided in the Support of Other Stockpile Programs, the budget request provides a slight increase from the current year levels. However, the Committee recommends $42,578,000, the same level as current year, a reduction of $3,381,000. These funds will be applied toward the joint HEDP program.

Pulsed Power Inertial Confinement Fusion. The Committee recommends $10,603,000 to support experiments on the refurbished Z facility.

University Grants. The Committee believes these activities would be better supported in a broader program that would provide students and faculty broader research and experimental opportunities.

Facility Operations and Target Production. The Committee recommendation is $53,021,000, as requested in the budget. The Committee provides $10,000,000 above the budget request for advanced ICF target design, fabrication and testing on the OMEGA laser system at the LLE and the Z-machine at SNL.

NIF Demonstration Program. The remaining work under the Demonstration program activities includes assembly and installation of optics into the remaining roughly 180 of the 192 beamlines. The Department is directed to work to find cost savings by increasing the efficiency and productivity for assembly activities. The Committee recommends $129,000,000 for demonstration activities.

High-Energy Petawatt Laser Development. The Committee recommendation no funding for this activity. The funds that were budgeted for this account have been shifted to the Office of Science High Energy Density Physics program, an increase of $27,693,000 above current year levels.

Construction Project 96-D-111. The Committee recommends $81,419,000 and directs the NNSA to utilize available contingency funds of $30,000,000 to make up any funding shortfalls. Remaining contingency balances are sufficient to cover the remaining costs of the construction project. This funding will be used to support the NNSA’s contribution to the joint High Energy Density Physics program office.