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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth BURNING PLASMA BRINGING A STAR TO EARTH Burning Plasma Assessment Committee Plasma Science Committee Board on Physics and Astronomy Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Grant No. DE-AT01-02ER54676 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Energy. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number 0-309-09082-2 (Book) International Standard Book Number 0-309-52766-X (PDF) Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 2003117153 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet <http://www.nap.edu>; and Board on Physics and Astronomy, National Research Council, Keck 922, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20001; Internet <http://www.national-academies.org/bpa>. Cover: The Tokamak Test Fusion Reactor (TFTR) was a fusion experiment at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory that achieved one of the world’s first partially burning plasmas in the 1990s. Image courtesy of Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Copyright 2004 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth BURNING PLASMA ASSESSMENT COMMITTEE JOHN F. AHEARNE, Sigma Xi, Duke University, Co-chair RAYMOND FONCK, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Co-chair JOHN N. BAHCALL, Institute for Advanced Study GORDON A. BAYM, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign IRA B. BERNSTEIN, Yale University STEPHEN C. COWLEY, Imperial College London EDWARD A. FRIEMAN, Science Applications International Corporation WALTER GEKELMAN, University of California at Los Angeles JOSEPH HEZIR, EOP Group, Inc. WILLIAM M. NEVINS, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory RONALD R. PARKER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology CLAUDIO PELLEGRINI, University of California at Los Angeles BURTON RICHTER, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center CLIFFORD M. SURKO, University of California at San Diego TONY S. TAYLOR, General Atomics MICHAEL A. ULRICKSON, Sandia National Laboratories MICHAEL C. ZARNSTORFF, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory ELLEN G. ZWEIBEL, University of Wisconsin at Madison Staff DONALD C. SHAPERO, Director, Board on Physics and Astronomy TIMOTHY I. MEYER, Study Director (from August 2003) MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Study Director (May 2002–July 2003)
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth PLASMA SCIENCE COMMITTEE CARY B. FOREST, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Chair JONATHAN ARONS, University of California at Berkeley CHRISTINA BACK, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory MICHAEL S. BARNES, Applied Materials ALLEN BOOZER, Columbia University JOHN CARY, University of Colorado at Boulder CYNTHIA A. CATTELL, University of Minnesota WALTER GEKELMAN, University of California at Los Angeles MICHAEL A. LIEBERMAN, University of California at Berkeley CLAUDIO PELLEGRINI, University of California at Los Angeles DMITRI RYUTOV, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory STEWART J. ZWEBEN, Princeton University Staff DONALD C. SHAPERO, Director, Board on Physics and Astronomy TIMOTHY I. MEYER, Program Officer PAMELA A. LEWIS, Project Associate NELSON QUIÑONES, Project Assistant
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth BOARD ON PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY BURTON RICHTER, Stanford University, Chair ANNEILA I. SARGENT, California Institute of Technology, Vice Chair ELIHU ABRAHAMS, Rutgers State University JONATHAN BAGGER, Johns Hopkins University GORDON A. BAYM, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign WILLIAM EATON, National Institutes of Health RAYMOND FONCK, University of Wisconsin at Madison WENDY L. FREEDMAN, Carnegie Observatories LAURA H. GREEN, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign FRANCES HELLMAN, University of California at San Diego ERIC P. IPPEN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology LINDA J. (LEE) MAGID, University of Tennessee at Knoxville THOMAS M. O’NEIL, University of California at San Diego JULIA M. PHILLIPS, Sandia National Laboratories JOSEPH H. TAYLOR, JR., Princeton University THOMAS N. THEIS, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center C. MEGAN URRY, Yale University CARL E. WIEMAN, University of Colorado/JILA Staff DONALD C. SHAPERO, Director ROBERT L. RIEMER, Senior Program Officer BRIAN D. DEWHURST, Research Associate TIMOTHY I. MEYER, Program Officer PAMELA A. LEWIS, Project Associate NELSON QUIÑONES, Project Assistant VAN AN, Financial Associate
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth Preface The goal of achieving a sustained thermonuclear fusion burn capable of generating power in some future reactor has been a long-term research goal for the United States and the global research community. In the past decade great strides have been made toward that goal, leading the fusion research program to a decision point—is it ready to take the step of executing a burning plasma experiment, and how should that step be taken? Given the considerable federal investment over several decades, the fusion program has rightly been the subject of many reviews and assessments—by the National Research Council (NRC), the Department of Energy’s Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology—and has also been the subject of congressional review. Most recently the question has been whether the United States should include a burning plasma experiment—one in which at least 50 percent of the energy needed to sustain the fusion reaction is generated from within the plasma—in the Department of Energy’s magnetic fusion program as operated by the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (OFES). A burning plasma experiment is a key scientific milestone on the road to the development of fusion power. The Burning Plasma Assessment Committee was established by the National Research Council under the Board on Physics and Astronomy with oversight and guidance from the Plasma Science Committee in July 2002 at the request of DOE’s Office of Science.1 The committee was charged with assessing (1) the importance 1 The establishment of an NRC committee on a burning plasma experiment was also written in to legislation under consideration by Congress at the time of the committee’s establishment.
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth of a burning plasma experimental program, (2) the scientific and technical readiness to undertake a burning plasma experimental program, and (3) the plan for the U.S. magnetic fusion burning plasma experimental program. It was asked to make recommendations on the program strategy aimed at maximizing the yield of scientific and technical understanding as the foundation for the future development of fusion as an energy source (see Appendix A for the full text of the task). The Burning Plasma Assessment Committee was established to conduct the latest of several NRC studies that have considered the direction of the U.S. fusion program over the past decade. Both the 1995 report Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications2 and the 2001 report of the Fusion Science Assessment Committee (FUSAC)3 provided vital background for the Burning Plasma Assessment Committee in carrying out this study. Plasma Science concluded that many opportunities for fundamental scientific exploration were missed because of the then-schedule-driven energy development mandate of the fusion energy program. The report also recommended that, to aid the development of fusion and other energy-related programs, the Department of Energy should provide increased support for basic plasma science. The FUSAC study concluded that “a program organized around critical science goals will also maximize progress toward a practical fusion power source.”4 The third item of the committee’s task was to provide “an independent review and assessment of the plan for the U.S. magnetic fusion burning plasma experimental program” (emphasis added; see Appendix A). None of the inertial confinement fusion (ICF) programs are considered in this report since they are not part of the magnetic fusion program and, with the exception of the small, heavy ion program, are not part of a program aiming toward the use of fusion for commercial energy purposes. The major work of DOE’s large program in ICF is the study of high energy density physics using implosions driven by energy deposition from focused laser beams and plasma pinches. A major facility will be the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, as well as the Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories. Much of the ICF work is done as part of the nuclear weapons work in the National Nuclear Security Administration, a section of the Department of Energy. A small program is beginning to explore the use of heavy ions for ICF energy deposition. 2 National Research Council, Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1995. 3 National Research Council, An Assessment of the Department of Energy’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences Program, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2001. 4 National Research Council, An Assessment of the Department of Energy’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences Program, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2001, p. 2.
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth The membership of the Burning Plasma Assessment Committee was designed to bring together experts in fusion science, plasma science, and other areas (see Appendix G) to consider the charge. At the committee’s first meeting, Raymond Orbach, director of DOE’s Office of Science, requested an interim report by the end of 2002, addressing two aspects of the charge—the importance of a burning plasma experiment for fusion energy, and the scientific and technical readiness to undertake a burning plasma experiment—and, in particular, to provide advice on the question of U.S. reentry into the negotiations for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).5 Issued on December 20, 2002, the interim report6 recommended that the United States reenter the ITER negotiations with a view to full participation in the experiment. Following publication of the report, President Bush announced that the U.S. government would rejoin the negotiations, and a U.S. team has since become active.7 In the context of possible U.S. reentry into the ITER negotiations, the interim report offered some preliminary findings and conclusions with respect to the importance and readiness issues, but left much of the charge to the committee unaddressed. After completing its interim report, the committee focused on the remainder of its charge and, most importantly, on the consideration of a strategy for “maximizing the yield of scientific and technical understanding as the foundation for the future development of fusion as an energy source” (see Appendix A). In addressing its task the committee considered questions relevant to the charge that included, but were not limited to, the following: What are the important scientific and technical problems to be addressed in the burning plasma experimental program? To what degree will the solutions further the development of fusion energy in magnetic-confinement systems generally or in tokamaks specifically? What is the scientific interest in these problems? To what degree can individual problems be investigated in smaller, less costly experiments, and to what degree does satisfactory understanding 5 ITER will be a burning plasma experiment based on the tokamak concept—the leading magnetic-confinement fusion configuration, whose name comes from the Russian word for a toroidally (or doughnut) shaped magnetic field. ITER is expected to be larger than existing tokamaks, with a major radius of 5 to 8 m, and is expected to use superconducting magnets to confine the hot plasma. 6 The text of the Burning Plasma Assessment Committee’s interim report is reproduced in Appendix E of this report and is available online at http://books.nap.edu/openbook/NI000487/html/index.html. 7 The negotiations to start the ITER project are being attended by the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, South Korea, Canada, and the United States.
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth depend on integration of the phenomena in a single burning plasma experiment? What are the merits and limitations of the principal realizations currently proposed for a burning plasma experiment, and to what degree can each realization address the problems identified in the answer to the first question? Does the plan for a burning plasma experimental program envision sufficient diagnostics, theory, and technology support to generate good understanding of the problems to be investigated? What are the implications of a given experiment for the future development of the program? Will the burning plasma experimental program be well integrated with the rest of the U.S. fusion program? Will it be well integrated with international efforts in fusion research? The committee’s task was a challenging one. In considering the questions listed above and in approaching the execution of its charge, the committee received important input from the fusion community and others—at its formal meetings8 and via an e-mail solicitation to the plasma community and a town meeting held at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics. The committee extends its gratitude to the community for this input, and in particular thanks the organizers of and participants in the Fusion Workshop held in Snowmass, Colorado, in July 2002. The committee commends all of those involved in the Snowmass project for providing a valuable technical assessment of the options for achieving a burning plasma experiment. In particular, the committee expresses its appreciation to the following individuals for their contributions to its work and the completion of this report: Bruno Coppi, Stephen Dean, Robert Goldston, Robert Hirsch, Karl Lackner, Michael Mauel, Dale Meade, Gerald Navratil, Stewart Prager, Marshall Rosenbluth, Ned Sauthoff, and Ronald Stambaugh. The committee also expresses its deepest gratitude to Michael Moloney, the NRC study director for this committee, and to Donald Shapero, director of the Board on Physics and Astronomy, and Thomas O’Neil, chair of the Plasma Science Committee, who put tremendous and productive effort into defining the scope of this study with colleagues on the Plasma Science Committee and at the Department of Energy. Finally, we thank Timothy Meyer, who, after Michael Moloney left, took over and successfully managed the 8 Agendas for the committee’s four meetings are provided in Appendix B.
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth difficult task of the final steps in the National Research Council’s review process and brought this report through to publication. In presenting this report, we would like to thank our colleagues on the committee. The diversity of the committee’s areas of expertise was its greatest strength, leading to many difficult questions being asked in our open and closed discussions. The committee’s findings, conclusions, and recommendations are presented with the hope that, as the nation faces financially challenging times, this report will help inform the difficult decisions that must be taken to support an important field of science. It behooves the fusion community and those who support its work to develop a prioritized strategy to provide a realistic framework for the advancement of a science that has the potential to lead to an exciting new energy source. John F. Ahearne, Co-chair, and Raymond Fonck, Co-chair Burning Plasma Assessment Committee
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Jack Conner, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Agency, Ronald C. Davidson, Princeton University, W. Kenneth Davis, Bechtel Corporation (retired), Val L. Fitch, Princeton University, Cary B. Forest, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Harold K. Forsen, National Academy of Engineering, T. Kenneth Fowler, University of California at Berkeley, William Happer, Princeton University, David Meyerhofer, University of Rochester, and Marshall N. Rosenbluth, University of California at San Diego.
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Louis J. Lanzerotti (Lucent Technologies) and Charles F. Kennel (University of California at San Diego). Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth Contents SUMMARY 1 1 NEXT STEPS FOR THE FUSION SCIENCE PROGRAM 10 Introduction, 10 Preparing for a Burning Plasma Experiment, 14 Scientific Value and Interest, 16 Technological Value and Interest, 18 Readiness to Pursue a Burning Plasma Experiment, 19 The Next Step? 21 Program Structure, 22 Today’s Balance, 23 Primary Issues of Fusion Science Research, 26 Research Opportunities and Science and Technology Goals for the Next Decade: Direct Support of the Burning Plasma Program on ITER, 28 Research Opportunities and Science and Technology Goals for the Next Decade: Concept-Optimization Research, 30 Theory, Simulation, and Computation, 32 The Role of the Universities: Research, Education, and the Fusion Workforce, 33 The ITER Negotiations and Program Contingency, 36
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth Striking the Balance, 38 Summary of Findings and Discussion, 38 Implications for the Fusion Community, 40 Budget Implications, 41 Setting Priorities to Strike the Balance, 43 Conclusions and Recommendations—Elements of a Strategically Balanced Fusion Program, 44 Conclusions, 44 Recommendations for a Program Strategy, 47 Final Comment, 50 2 SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL VALUE OF AND INTEREST IN A BURNING PLASMA 51 Introduction, 51 Scientific Importance of a Burning Plasma for Fusion Energy Science and the Development of Fusion Energy, 54 Behavior of Self-Sustaining Burning Plasmas, 55 Fusion-Plasma Turbulence and Turbulent Transport, 56 Stability Limits to Plasma Pressure, 57 Controlling Sustained Burning Plasmas, 58 Power and Particle Exhaust, 58 Conclusion, 59 Scientific Importance of a Burning Plasma for Basic Plasma Physics, 59 Magnetic Field Line Reconnection, 60 Plasma Turbulence, 60 Abrupt Plasma Behavior, 61 Energetic Particles in Plasmas, 61 Conclusion, 61 General Scientific Importance of a Burning Plasma, 64 Technological Importance for Fusion Energy Science and the Development of Fusion Energy, 65 Breeding Blanket Development, 66 Tritium Processing, 67 Magnet Technology, 68 High-Heat-Flux Component Development, 69 Remote Handling Technology, 69 Conclusion, 70
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth 3 READINESS FOR UNDERTAKING A BURNING PLASMA EXPERIMENT 71 Scientific Readiness, 72 Confinement Projections, 72 Operational Boundaries—Plasma Pressure and Current, 75 Mitigation of Abnormal Events, 77 Maintenance of Plasma Purity, 78 Characterization Techniques, 80 Plasma Control Techniques, 80 Conclusion, 81 Technical Readiness, 81 Fabrication of Necessary Components, 82 Component Lifetime in a Nuclear Environment, 82 Lifetime of Plasma-Facing Components, 84 Tritium Inventory Control, 85 Remote Maintenance, 85 Fueling, Heating, and Current Drive Control, 86 Conclusion, 87 4 PROGRAM STRUCTURE AND BALANCE 88 Introduction, 88 Fusion Science Issues and Research Portfolio, 91 Plasma Turbulence and Turbulent Transport, 96 Stability Limits to Plasma Pressure, 96 Stochastic Magnetic Fields and Self-Organized Systems, 97 Plasma Confinement with Different Types of Magnetic Field Symmetry, 98 Control of Sustained High-Pressure Plasmas, 98 Energetic Particles in Plasmas, 99 Plasma Behavior When Self-Sustained by Fusion, 99 Research Opportunities and Science and Technology Goals for the Domestic Fusion Program, 100 Directly Support the Burning Plasma Program on ITER, 101 Develop an Understanding of Paths to Advanced Tokamak Regimes, 106 Test the Effects of Extreme Toroidicity in the Spherical Torus, 107 Investigate Sustainment and Enhanced Confinement in the Reversed-Field Pinch, 108 Explore the Potential for Passive Stability and Steady-State Operation in Three-Dimensional Stellarators with Underlying Magnetic Symmetry, 108
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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth Explore Novel and Emerging Fusion Science and Technology Concepts, 109 Develop Fusion Technologies to Enable Innovative Fusion Science Experiments and Provide Attractive Long-Term Reactor Concepts, 110 Partner with International Collaborators, 111 Theory and Computation, 111 Workforce Readiness, 113 Aging Workforce and Dwindling Supply, 114 Recruitment and Basic Scientific and Technical Education, 116 Specialized Training in Fusion Technology, 120 Program Structure and Its Evolution, 122 Present Structure, 124 Required Elements of a Balanced Program, 125 Integration of Program Activities, 128 Setting Priorities to Strike the Balance, 130 APPENDIXES A Charge to the Burning Plasma Assessment Committee 135 B Committee Meeting Agendas 137 C Proposed Burning Plasma Experiments 143 D Fusion Community Recommendations 148 E Committee’s Interim Report 156 F Fusion Reactor Concepts 169 G Biographies of Committee Members 174 H Glossary 183