Two Comprehensive Reviews of US Magnetic Fusion Launched

February 6, 2017

The US Department of Energy has launched two comprehensive reviews of the US magnetic fusion effort -- one under the auspices of its Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) and one it has authorized to be carried out by the US National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NAS). The FESAC study is to be completed by October 1 of this year. The NAS review is asked to make an interim report by October 1 of this year, with a final report about one year later. Copies of the charge documents for the reviews are available on request from Fusion Power Associates: fusionpwrassoc@aol.com

The FESAC study was requested in a January 30, 2017 letter from Acting Director of the DOE Office of Science J. Stephen Binkley to FESAC chair Don Rej of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The letter states in part, "I am asking FESAC to identify the most promising transformative enabling capabilities for the U.S. to pursue that could promote efficient advance towards fusion energy, building on burning plasma science and technology. Your considerations should be broad, addressing advances that may occur in areas of engineering, technology and science." FESAC is in the process of establishing a subcommittee to carry out this task. More detail will be posted on the FESAC web page at: https://science.energy.gov/fes/fesac/

The NAS study was authorized by DOE in the Fall of 2016, but a committee has not yet been formed. The NAS is asked to "provide guidance on a long-term strategy for the (fusion) field." The charge states in part that the interim report should "describe and assess the current status of U.S research that supports burning plasma science, including current and planned participation in international activities, and describe international research activities broadly. The charge states in part that the final report "should consider the scientific and engineering challenges and opportunities associated with advancing magnetic confinement fusion as an energy source ...." The charge also states that the final report should "provide guidance on a long-term strategic plan" in two separate scenarios: one in which after 2018 the US is a partner in ITER and one in which it is not.. The NAS is currently in the process of selecting a chair and forming a committee to carry out this task. It is expected that they will set up a web site for the activity that will include bios of the proposed committee members and an opportunity for public comment before embarking on formal meetings, etc. You can track progress on the NAS study at: http://www.nas.edu/bpa/