Fusion Power Associates
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phone: (301) 258-0545
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May 4, 1998

FPN98-11 Fusion Program Notes

Inertial Fusion Leaders Present Energy Plan

Leaders of the U. S. inertial confinement fusion program presented a comprehensive plan to develop a commercial fusion energy source to a group of mostly magnetic fusion scientists meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, during the week of April 27. The meeting, "Forum for Major Next-Step Fusion Experiments" brought together about 150 members of the U. S. "fusion community" to "identify a range of options for major next-step experiments in support of fusion energy development with broad community involvement" and to "establish a broad consensus within the community around the pursuit of a few options whose implementation would be contingent on domestic and international budget developments." (See FPN 98-9, April 16, 1998)

LLNL Associate Director for Lasers Mike Campbell presented the plan on behalf of himself, Roger Bangerter (LBNL), Stephen Bodner (NRL) and Bob McCrory (U. Rochester). Campbell said we must "address the concerns about the present fusion program, not just the need for good science, but also the need for better end products and lower cost development paths." He emphasized that the inertial fusion path differs from the path of magnetic fusion and thus provides a real alternative. He also noted that an energy path for inertial fusion "can leverage investment by DOE Defense Programs." Campbell stated tht two IFE (inertial fusion energy) concepts now appear credible candidates for energy application: direct drive using Krypton Fluoride lasers or solid state lasers and indirect drive targets using a heavy ion accelerator.

Campbell proposed a plan that would further develop the required efficient, repetitively-pulsed driver technologies for KrF lasers, diode-pumped solid state lasers and heavy ion accelerators, combined with target design and technology R&D between now and 2002 at a cost of about $35 - 40 million per year. At that point a decision would be made to construct an "Integrated Research Experiment" in parallel with continued advanced driver and target R&D and supporting technology R&D at a cost of about $80 million per year. Around 2011 a decision would be made to construct an Engineering Test Facility at a total project cost of about $2 billion; followed by a decision around 2023 to construct an IFE demonstration power plant at a total project cost of about $3 billion. Details were presented on all elements of the plan.

Campbell told the assembled scientists, "Together we can change the U. S. fusion program image: a broader scientific and technical base, with a larger constituency." He said that "There is an adequate scientific and technical base to expand IFE now" and that "IFE is wide open for further innovation -- we invite broader fusion community participation in shaping the future of IFE." He also noted the increasingly international character of inertial fusion research and the many "spinoff" applications of the research.

For further information, contact Mike Campbell (molkenbuhr1@llnl.gov).