Fusion Power Associates
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November 24, 1998

FPN98-35 Fusion Program Notes


Next Step Options Study

In a letter dated November 13, 1998 to Dr. Charles Baker (UCSD), in his capacity of Director of the Virtual Laboratory for Technology, DOE fusion head Dr. N. Anne Davies asks Baker to initiate and oversee a "Next Step Options" activity, at a level of $3.5 million in FY 1999. Davies suggests that Baker "take real advantage of the experience gained by those individuals were involved with ITER," in carrying out the activity. She asks Baker "to work with the community to develop specific recommendations, including proposed institutional relationships, to OFES by November 30 for tasks to be performed during FY99 including key milestones for deliverable products during the year."

Davies says, "The purpose of this Next Step Options activity is to investigate and assess various opportunities for advancing the scientific understanding of fusion energy, with emphasis on plasma behavior at high energy gain and for long duration." She indicates that examples of specific tasks to be pursued are:

  1. preparation of a common set of technical assumptions and criteria for comparing design options;

  2. assessment of implications of advanced physics on recent fusion facility designs such as BPX;

  3. assessment of existing design information through interactions with projects such as KSTAR, Ignitor, JT-60SU, JET enhancements and as a reference, the reduced-cost ITER, and determination of relevance of all this information to Next Step Options; and

  4. exploratory design for a modular program pathway, with initial emphasis on the burning plasma module.

Davies notes, "While recognizing that our fusion partners are today primarily interested in the reduced-cost ITER, our efforts should be considered complementary to theirs, and, in fact, I think we can expect some modest interest and participation by our partners in this work. I want to emphasize that any deliberate pursuit of one of the Next Step Options, beyond this exploratory design effort, would have to be addressed in an international context after the other major fusion programs have determined a course of action on construction of the reduced-cost ITER."