Executive Summary

ITER, a planned next-generation fusion research facility, presents the United States and its international partners with the opportunity to explore new and exciting frontiers of plasma science while bringing the promise of fusion energy closer to reality. The ITER project has garnered the commitment and will draw on the scientific potential of seven international partners—China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States—countries that represent more than half of the world’s population. The success of ITER will depend on each partner’s ability to fully engage in the scientific and technological challenges posed by advancing the understanding of fusion.

The National Research Council’s Committee to Review the U.S. ITER Science Participation Planning Process was asked to assess the current U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) plan for U.S. fusion community participation in ITER, evaluate the plan’s elements, and recommend appropriate goals, procedures, and metrics for consideration in the future development of the plan.1 The committee found that:

  • The 2006 DOE plan for U.S. participation in ITER is operating and has proven effective in beginning to coordinate U.S. research activities and the development of the ITER program. U.S. scientists have

1

U.S. Burning Plasma Organization, Planning for U.S. Fusion Community Participation in the ITER Program, June 7, 2006. The DOE plan is available at http://www.ofes.fusion.doe.gov/News/EPAct_final_June06.pdf, last viewed on July 22, 2008.



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Executive Summary ITER, a planned next­generation fusion research facility, presents the United States and its international partners with the opportunity to explore new and exciting frontiers of plasma science while bringing the promise of fusion energy closer to reality. The ITER project has garnered the commitment and will draw on the scientific potential of seven inter­ national partners—China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States—countries that represent more than half of the world’s population. The success of ITER will depend on each partner’s ability to fully engage in the scientific and technological challenges posed by advancing the understanding of fusion. The National Research Council’s Committee to Review the U.S. ITER Science Participation Planning Process was asked to assess the current U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) plan for U.S. fusion community partici­ pation in ITER, evaluate the plan’s elements, and recommend appropriate goals, procedures, and metrics for consideration in the future develop­ ment of the plan.1 The committee found that: • The 2006 DOE plan for U.S. participation in ITER is operating and has proven effective in beginning to coordinate U.S. research activi­ ties and the development of the ITER program. U.S. scientists have 1 U.S. Burning Plasma Organization, Planning for U.S. Fusion Community Participation in the ITER Program, June 7, 2006. The DOE plan is available at http://www.ofes.fusion.doe. gov/News/EPAct_final_June06.pdf, last viewed on July 22, 2008. 

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 A REVIEW OF THE DOE PLAN FOR U.S. PARTICIPATION IN ITER been well engaged in the planning for ITER, and the United States should endeavor to maintain this level of activity. The plan, in its current form, is well aligned with DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences goals. • The U.S. ITER research program is at least as organizationally and technically mature as that of the other ITER participants at the time of this writing.2 • The U.S. research program for ITER as described in the DOE plan is appropriate and justified, and the committee notes that the domestic program will evolve as the international research pro­ gram is developed. U.S. involvement in developing the research program for ITER will be crucial to the realization of U.S. fusion research goals. • The committee underscores as its greatest concern the uncertain U.S. commitment to ITER at the present time. Fluctuations in the U.S. commitment to ITER will undoubtedly have a large negative impact on the ability of the U.S. fusion community to influence the developing ITER research program, to capitalize on research at ITER to help achieve U.S. fusion energy goals, to participate in obtaining important scientific results on burning plasmas from ITER, and to be an effective participant in and beneficiary of future international scientific collaborations. • Consistent with previous National Research Council and Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee reports, the committee emphasizes that a vigorous and strategically balanced domestic program is required to ensure that U.S. participation in ITER is successful and valuable for the U.S. fusion program. • The DOE plan for U.S. participation in ITER includes well­thought­ out metrics for measuring progress toward development of fusion energy as a power source. • The DOE plan includes well­thought­out metrics to measure the robustness of U.S. participation in the ITER program. Based on these findings, the committee makes the following recommendations: • The Department of Energy should take steps to seek greater U.S. funding stability for the international ITER project to ensure that the United States remains able to influence the develop- ing ITER research program, to capitalize on research at ITER to help achieve U.S. fusion energy goals, to participate in obtaining 2As of April 8, 2008.

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 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY important scientific results on burning plasmas from ITER, and to be an effective participant in and beneficiary of future inter- national scientific collaborations. • Important considerations that are not reflected in the current DOE plan for U.S. participation in ITER should be addressed during the further development of the DOE plan. These consid- erations include: —Existing gaps in planning for a Demonstration Power Plant, —Dissemination of information on and the results of ITER research activities to the broader scientific community, and —Planning for the recruitment and training of young scientists and engineers. • The committee recommends that the following goals be adopted as the foundation of DOE planning activities for U.S. participa- tion in ITER: —Ensuring broad academic and industry participation in ITER, —Enabling the United States to contribute substantially to and reap the rewards from ITER, and —Recruiting and training young fusion scientists and engineers. • The committee recommends the following procedures to accom- plish the U.S. planning goals recommended above, and to facili- tate the further development of the DOE plan: —DOE should create a long­term strategic plan for the U.S. burn­ ing plasma fusion program within the context of global fusion energy development activities. —The U.S. Burning Plasma Organization should continue to be an essential point of communication, and serve as a home team to encourage broad cooperation and collaboration among all U.S. participants in the ITER project. —DOE should maintain a vibrant domestic fusion program through strong support for basic research and facilities. —The DOE plan for U.S. participation in ITER should consider what capabilities exist and need to exist at U.S. plasma science facilities. —The DOE plan should consider the needed operating availability of domestic tokamaks. • The committee recommends that the following five metrics be considered for inclusion during the future development of the DOE plan for U.S. fusion community participation in ITER:

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 A REVIEW OF THE DOE PLAN FOR U.S. PARTICIPATION IN ITER —Periodic evaluation by expert and knowledgeable members of the scientific, engineering, and industrial community regarding the U.S. return on its ITER investment. —Periodic assessments by independent, external bodies of the effectiveness of domestic project management. —Balance in the fraction of U.S. published research conducted on ITER according to authors’ institutional affiliations (university, national laboratory, and industry). —Number of research and technology publications documenting results obtained on ITER that are cited by or produced in collabo­ ration with U.S. researchers, students, and technologists across U.S. plasma science and physics. —Achievement of predictive capability, to be evaluated by peer review.