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Fusion Program Notes
December 17, 1998
More on New Fusion Review
The following are the "Terms of Reference" provided to the Secretary
of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) for its review of the fusion program
as described in FPN98-38, December 16, 1998.
Secretary of Energy Advisory Board
Terms of Reference
Task Force on Fusion Energy
Objectives and Scope
The SEAB Task Force is requested to conduct a thorough review of all the
Department's fusion energy technologies, both inertial and magnetic. The
review should analyze and provide recommendations on the role of each of these
technologies as part of a national fusion energy research program. That
analysis should address whether the current and planned resources within the
Office of Fusion Energy Sciences budget are appropriately balanced among the
concepts to provide the scientific basis for an informed selection of the best
option for development as a fusion energy source.
In carrying out this review, SEAB Task Force should specifically take into
account the relationship to international fusion energy programs, the
connection of inertial fusion energy research to the stockpile stewardship
activities in Defense Programs, and the broader science and educational goals
that may be enabled by these fusion technologies.
The Department of Energy's Office of Fusion Energy Sciences manages a
scientific research program, which has as its overarching mission to establish
the knowledge base for an environmentally benign and economically competitive
fusion energy power source. The greatest part of the research effort in this
program has been applied to theory and experiments using magnetic fields to
confine the plasma fuel so that fusion reactions can take place. These
research efforts have played a critical role in the intellectual development of
plasma science and technology, but the prime motivation of the Department's
fusion energy program has always been the development of a new energy option.
The Department's Office of Inertial Fusion and National Ignition Facility
Project manages a research program to address high-energy-density physics
issues for the science based stockpile stewardship program and to develop a
laboratory microfusion capability. A major near term goal of the program is to
demonstrate ignition in the laboratory, and the National Ignition Facility
(NIF) is a cornerstone of this effort. Although the primary mission of the
inertial fusion program is for defense applications, inertial fusion research
will provide important information for the development of inertial fusion
energy. This arrangement is consistent with the recommendations of the 1990
Fusion Policy Advisory Committee Report.
In their FY 1999 report language, both the House and Senate appropriations
subcommittees noted that, in addition to magnetic fusion technology, the
Department also pursues related fusion energy technologies, primarily for
national security purposes. Examples of such technologies are pulsed-power,
lasers, and ion drivers, all variants of what is known as inertial fusion.
These technologies may have bearing on the long term prospects for fusion ignition
and/or energy. The Department's Office of Defense Programs has long pursued
these technologies as a part of the weapons research program, and more recently
as a part of stockpile stewardship, and only secondarily because of any
benefits to energy development.
Description of the Work
The Task Force should review the Department's present plans for research and
development of the four fusion related technologies cited by the appropriations
subcommittees--pulsed-power, lasers, ion drivers, and magnetic fusion. The
review should focus on the scientific quality of the programs, the goals and
objectives of the programs, and the energy potential of each technology. The
final written report should provide advice on how to structure the Department's
fusion energy programs. The findings and recommendations of this Task Force
should include comments on the goals and objectives of the Department's fusion
energy related programs, a critique of the current development strategies,
suggested changes in the overall roadmap (including major decision points), and
recommended funding levels.
The Task Force should address at least the following questions:
- What is the overall state of development and energy potential of the four
- How should the magnetic and inertial fusion energy programs in the Office
of Science be structured to make maximum scientific progress in the development
of fusion energy?
- Recognizing that the inertial confinement fusion program in the Office of
Defense Programs is driven by stockpile stewardship requirements, what is the
appropriate balance between magnetic and inertial confinement fusion energy
activities in the Office of Science?
- What is an appropriate development path for each of the four fusion-related
- What is the appropriate funding level for each fusion energy technology?
The Task Force shall report to the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board.
Estimated Number and Frequency of Meetings
The Task Force is expected to meet approximately four times during its term.
Meetings will be scheduled as the Task Force chair deems necessary for the Task
Force to accomplish its duties and purpose.
Subcommittee members shall reflect a balance of expertise and informed
viewpoints. Approximately twelve members shall be selected from the fields of
plasma science, energy, and the environment; the general scientific community;
public interest organizations; and the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board.
The Chairman of the SEAB shall designate a chair for the Task Force in
consultation with the Secretary of Energy.
Working groups may be established, as appropriate, to facilitate the
functioning of the Committee. The objectives of the working groups are to make
recommendations to the Task Force with respect to the activities described in
the Description of Work section above.
Duration and Termination Date
This charter shall expire in five months from the date of the Task Force's
establishment, subject to extension or dissolution by the Chairman of the
Secretary of Energy Advisory Board.