1 Executive Summary

In this interim report, the Committee on the Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems reached the following preliminary conclusions and recommendations.

Conclusion 1: The scientific and technological progress in inertial confinement fusion has been substantial during the past decade, particularly in areas pertaining to the achievement and understanding of high-energy-density conditions in the compressed fuel, in numerical simulations of inertial confinement fusion processes, and in exploring several of the critical technologies required for inertial fusion energy applications (e.g., high-repetition-rate lasers and heavy-ion-beam systems, pulsed-power systems, and cryogenic target fabrication techniques).

Despite these advances, however, many of the technologies needed for an integrated inertial fusion energy system are still at an early stage of technological maturity. For all approaches to inertial fusion energy examined by the committee (diode-pumped lasers, krypton fluoride lasers, heavy-ion accelerators, pulsed power; indirect drive and direct drive), there remain critical scientific and engineering challenges associated with establishing the technical basis for an inertial fusion energy demonstration plant.

Conclusion 2: It would be premature at the present time to choose a particular driver approach as the preferred option for an inertial fusion energy demonstration plant.

The committee recognizes, of course, that such a down-selection among options will eventually have to be made. In its final report, the committee will provide examples of key experimental results that will be needed to inform the decision points regarding which driver-target combinations are most likely to succeed.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) supports a major national effort in inertial confinement fusion at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) that is focused primarily on addressing technical issues related to stewardship of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile and national security. An intense national campaign is underway to achieve ignition conditions on the NIF, and there has been considerable initial technical progress toward this major goal, although progress has been slower than originally anticipated.1

The current NIF laser, targets, shot repetition rate, production methods, and materials are not specifically designed to be suitable for inertial fusion energy (IFE) applications.

_______________________

1 Steven Koonin, DOE Under Secretary for Science, “Fourth Review of the National Ignition Campaign,” November 8, 2011.



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1 Executive Summary In this interim report, the Committee on the Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems reached the following preliminary conclusions and recommendations. Conclusion 1: The scientific and technological progress in inertial confinement fusion has been substantial during the past decade, particularly in areas pertaining to the achievement and understanding of high-energy-density conditions in the compressed fuel, in numerical simulations of inertial confinement fusion processes, and in exploring several of the critical technologies required for inertial fusion energy applications (e.g., high-repetition- rate lasers and heavy-ion-beam systems, pulsed-power systems, and cryogenic target fabrication techniques). Despite these advances, however, many of the technologies needed for an integrated inertial fusion energy system are still at an early stage of technological maturity. For all approaches to inertial fusion energy examined by the committee (diode-pumped lasers, krypton fluoride lasers, heavy-ion accelerators, pulsed power; indirect drive and direct drive), there remain critical scientific and engineering challenges associated with establishing the technical basis for an inertial fusion energy demonstration plant. Conclusion 2: It would be premature at the present time to choose a particular driver approach as the preferred option for an inertial fusion energy demonstration plant. The committee recognizes, of course, that such a down-selection among options will eventually have to be made. In its final report, the committee will provide examples of key experimental results that will be needed to inform the decision points regarding which driver-target combinations are most likely to succeed. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) supports a major national effort in inertial confinement fusion at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) that is focused primarily on addressing technical issues related to stewardship of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile and national security. An intense national campaign is underway to achieve ignition conditions on the NIF, and there has been considerable initial technical progress toward this major goal, although progress has been slower than originally anticipated.1 The current NIF laser, targets, shot repetition rate, production methods, and materials are not specifically designed to be suitable for inertial fusion energy (IFE) applications. 1 Steven Koonin, DOE Under Secretary for Science, “Fourth Review of the National Ignition Campaign,” November 8, 2011. 1

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Nevertheless, many experiments that could be done using the NIF would be valuable for IFE even if the achievement of ignition is delayed—particularly those that provide experimental validation of predictive capabilities. The above discussion led the committee to make the following recommendation. Recommendation: Planning should begin for making effective use of the National Ignition Facility as one of the major program elements in an assessment of the feasibility of inertial fusion energy. 2

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2 Background The National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering’s America’s Energy Future study reviewed current patterns of energy production and consumption in the United States2 and the growing concerns with energy security and the environmental impacts of current fuels. For example, the study found that the United States depends on fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and—to a minor extent—oil) for 69 percent of its electricity generation, with nuclear fission accounting for an additional 21 percent. Although the fossil and nuclear fuels used are largely domestic in origin, there are many reasons why using them for electricity generation is less than ideal. Burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that appear to be altering the global climate, while concerns about nuclear fission remain, such as the possibility of accidents, the long-term storage of high-level nuclear waste, and the security and proliferation risks associated with widely distributed and highly radioactive nuclear materials. Not considered in the America’s Energy Future analysis were the prospects for electricity generation from nuclear fusion, which offers the potential for a carbon-free source of energy with an abundant source of fuel and greatly reduced concerns about long-term storage and disposal of radioactive waste compared with existing nuclear fission energy systems. There are two main approaches to nuclear fusion: inertial confinement fusion (ICF) and magnetic confinement fusion. Historically, the great majority of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funding for energy-related fusion research and development (R&D) has supported activities in magnetic confinement fusion, and consequently the technology for magnetic fusion energy is further advanced, with an internationally funded facility now under development to demonstrate several aspects of technical feasibility.3 However, the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) supports a major national effort in inertial confinement fusion focused primarily on addressing technical issues related to stewardship of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile and national security. The final report of the present study will evaluate the current status and future prospects for one of the two major approaches to nuclear fusion energy—inertial confinement 2 National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and National Research Council, America’s Energy Future: Technology and Transformation, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. (2009). 3 ITER, formerly known as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, is a magnetic confinement fusion experiment facility currently under construction in southern France. More information can be found at URL http://www.iter.org/, accessed June 30, 2011. 3

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fusion—to contribute to the U.S. electricity generation mix. This interim report has a much more limited scope and is intended to provide the sponsor with a snapshot of the direction of the committee’s thinking after its first four meetings. The present NRC study focuses on inertial fusion energy (IFE), which is based on the inertial confinement fusion approach. A primer on the principles of inertial fusion energy systems is provided in Appendix A. During the past decade, several prominent studies have reported favorably on the prospects for inertial fusion energy (e.g., see Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee - 2004 panel report on Review of Inertial Fusion Energy Program; Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee - 2003 panel report on Plan for Development of Fusion Energy; 2002 Snowmass meeting on fusion energy; the full bibliographic references for these reports are in Appendix E). The NNSA’s recently commissioned National Ignition Facility (NIF) has the stated goal of achieving ignition4 with an inertial confinement fusion target by the end of FY2012.5 Previous funding sources for inertial fusion energy R&D have been diverse and have included Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) funds at NNSA laboratories (e.g., Laser Inertial Fusion Energy (LIFE) and pulsed-power approaches), direct funding through the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (e.g., heavy-ion fusion, fast ignition, magnetized target fusion), and congressionally mandated funding (e.g., the High-Average-Power Laser (HAPL) programs for krypton fluoride (KrF) and diode- pumped lasers).6 Thus, while there have been diverse past and ongoing research efforts sponsored by various agencies and funding mechanisms that are relevant to IFE, at the present time there is no nationally coordinated research and development program in the United States aimed at the development of inertial fusion energy that incorporates the spectrum of driver approaches (diode-pumped lasers, heavy ions, krypton fluoride lasers, pulsed power, or other concepts), both indirect-drive and direct-drive target designs (see Appendix G for definitions), or any of the unique technologies needed to extract energy from any of the variety of driver and target options. 4 John D. Lindl, Peter Amendt, Richard L. Berger, S. Gail Glendinning, Siegfried H. Glenzer, Steven W. Haan, Robert L. Kauffman, Otto L. Landen, and Laurence J. Suter, “The Physics Basis for Ignition Using Indirect Drive Targets on the National Ignition Facility,” Physics of Plasmas, Vol. 11, Issue 2, 339 (2004); doi:10.1063/1.1578638 (153 pages). 5 Steven Koonin, DOE Under Secretary for Science, “Fourth Review of the National Ignition Campaign,” November 8, 2011. 6 Research in these various approaches is conducted across multiple labs and universities, although the driver approaches are usually identified with the following institutions: diode pumped solid state lasers (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester); pulsed power (Sandia National Laboratories); heavy ion fusion (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory); magnetized target fusion (Los Alamos National Laboratory); and krypton fluoride lasers (Naval Research Laboratory). 4

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3 The Committee’s Information-Gathering Process The analysis in this report is based on: Review of many past studies on inertial fusion energy systems;7 Briefings received on the ongoing research related to inertial fusion energy systems in the United States and around the world; Site visits conducted at major inertial confinement fusion facilities in the United States; and Expertise of the committee’s membership in key areas relating to inertial confinement fusion. Meeting agendas and site visits conducted by the committee are provided in Appendix D. A bibliography of past inertial confinement fusion studies consulted by the committee is given in Appendix E. 4 Recent Scientific and Technological Advances in Inertial Confinement Fusion Inertial fusion science and driver/target technologies are in a highly productive period of exploration driven by innovative ideas, precision diagnostics and engineering systems, ever-improving experimental techniques, and advanced numerical simulations. Detailed comparison of experimental results with simulations has proven to be very valuable in improving the understanding of high-energy-density physics, damage to materials under fusion conditions, the relative merits of various drivers, and many other issues relevant to IFE. In addition, the committee received technical input describing advances on many fronts, including indirect-drive and direct-drive fusion schemes,8 heavy-ion-beam focusing9 and pulse compression,10 and advances in pulsed-power fusion.11 The committee also 7 See Appendix E. 8 J.D. Sethian et al., "The Science and Technologies for Fusion Energy with Lasers and Direct Drive Targets", IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Vol. 38, 690 703 (2010). 9 P.K. Roy et al., “Results on Intense Beam Focusing and Neutralization from the Neutralized Beam Experiment,” Physics of Plasmas, Vol. 11, 2890 (2004). 10 P.K. Roy et al., “Drift Compression of an Intense Neutralized Ion Beam,” Physics Review Letters, Vol. 95, 234801 (2005). 11 S.A. Slutz et al., Physics of Plasmas, Vol. 17, 056303 (2010); and Michael E. Cuneo et al., "Pulsed Power IFE: Background, Phased R&D, and Roadmap," presentation to NRC Committee on the Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems, April 1, 2011, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 5

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received input concerning exploratory concepts such as shock ignition,12 fast ignition,13 and magnetized target fusion,14,15 which, if their potential is realized, may also have an impact on inertial fusion energy in the longer term. An intense national campaign is underway to achieve ignition conditions on the NIF, and there has been considerable initial technical progress toward this major goal.16 While technical progress has been slower than originally anticipated,17 the eventual achievement of ignition on the NIF, and particularly the achievement of moderate single- shot gain (10–20, say), would provide significant validation of key scientific underpinnings required for developing inertial fusion as a practical energy source. The committee noted that there is a substantial university community engaged in inertial confinement fusion experiments at the national laboratories18,19 There is also a strong university community active in high-energy-density science research, both at local facilities and at user facilities, which make important contributions to inertial confinement fusion concepts and techniques. Some of the major contributions that universities make in addition to improved understanding of the physics of extreme states of matter at the fundamental level, are the training of graduate students and postdoctoral associates who provide the source of scientific and engineering manpower, as well as the development and testing of new ideas and long-range technologies that are sometimes difficult to carry out in a mission-focused program. In parallel with the significant scientific advances, there have been impressive R&D efforts to develop a wide range of driver technologies.20 However, very little effort has been spent on developing the technology of the reactor chambers or on addressing materials problems peculiar to inertial fusion. Finally, international R&D programs in 12 R. Betti, C.D. Zhou, K.S. Anderson, L.J. Perkins, W. Theobald, and A.A. Solodov, “Shock Ignition of Thermonuclear Fuel with High Areal Density,” Physics Review Letters, Vol. 98, 155001 (2007). 13 M.H. Key, “Status and Prospects for the Fast Inertial Fusion Concept,” Phys. Plasmas, Vol. 14, 055502 (2007). 14 F.J. Marshall et al., Physical Review Letters, Vol. 102, 185004 (2009); and T.P. Intrator et al., Journal of Fusion Energy, Vol. 28, 165 169 (2009). 15 P.Y. Chang, G. Fiksel, M. Hohenberger, J.P. Knauer, R. Betti, F.J. Marshall, D.D. Meyerhofer, F.H. Séguin, and R.D. Petrasso, “Fusion Yield Enhancement in Magnetized Laser Driven Implosions,” Physics Review Letters, Vol. 107, 035006 (2011). 16 E. Moses, “Ignition on the National Ignition Facility: A Path Towards Inertial Fusion Energy,” Nuclear Fusion, Vol. 49, 104022 (September 10, 2009). 17 Steven Koonin, DOE Under Secretary for Science, “Fourth Review of the National Ignition Campaign,” November 8, 2011. 18 E. Moses and W. Meier, “The National Ignition Facility and the Golden Age of High Energy Density Science,” IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Vol. 36, 802 808 (2008). 19 J.D. Sethian et al., “The Science and Technologies for Fusion Energy with Lasers and Direct Drive Targets,” IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Vol. 38, 690 703 (2010). 20 Ibid. 6

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inertial fusion energy are continuing to expand and receive increased emphasis, particularly in Europe,21 Japan,22 Russia,23 and China.24 In summary, the committee has consulted with most of the key individuals and laboratories at the forefront of IFE-related research and is impressed with the quality of the science and technology and how much progress has been made in the past decade. It also recognizes how challenging and complex the unresolved issues are and how much remains to be accomplished and understood if IFE is to become a practical energy source. Each potential driver and target combination has advantages and disadvantages, technologies are evolving rapidly, and scientific challenges remain. If the nation intends to establish inertial fusion energy as part of its energy R&D portfolio, it is clear that both science and technology components must be addressed in an integrated and coordinated effort. 5 Important Factors from a Power Plant Perspective For inertial confinement fusion to become a practical energy source, several factors are important from a power plant perspective. These include: Cost competitiveness of the capital, fuel, operation, and maintenance costs; The ability to operate the plant continuously and with high availability in the extreme radiation environment of 14 MeV neutrons and target debris; The difficulty and frequency of the required periodic inspections and maintenance operations; The ease of operation; and Low environmental, health, and safety consequences (including management of radioactive waste), both in normal operation and under accident conditions. 21 John Collier, “Recent Activities and Plans in the EU and UK on Inertial Fusion Energy,” presented to the National Research Council Committee on Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems, June 15, 2011; and Boris Sharkov, “HIF E: Activities in Europe and in Russia” and “Extreme State of Matter Physics at FAIR,” presented to the National Research Council Committee on Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems, October 31, 2011. 22 Hiroshi Azechi, “Inertial Fusion Energy: Activities and Plans in Japan,” presented to the National Research Council Committee on Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems, June 15, 2011. 23 Boris Sharkov, “Heavy Ion Fusion Energy: Activities in Europe and in Russia” and “Extreme State of Matter Physics at FAIR,” presented to the National Research Council Committee on Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems, October 31, 2011. 24 Jie Zhang and Xiantu He, “Inertial Fusion Energy: Activities and Plans in China,” presented to the National Research Council Committee on Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems, June 16, 2011. 7

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The committee received presentations and documentation that summarized the reactor design concepts for several driver approaches, including high-average-power diode- pumped lasers and KrF lasers, heavy-ion fusion, and pulsed-power fusion. The current designs of IFE plants have used best-guess cost estimates for components and targets.25 The most recent detailed study of an IFE system is the Laser Inertial Fusion Energy (LIFE) study, which examined one option (based on indirect-drive targets, a diode-pumped solid-state laser, and a gas-filled, solid first wall).26 This study, as well as previous power system studies, have provided much useful insight into the issues and challenges facing IFE systems. While considerable progress has been made in the LIFE design and in other approaches, the committee concluded, based on the presentations and materials provided, that it would be premature to down-select among driver options at the present time. The committee further concluded that, to the extent possible, it is critical to continue the development of several promising technologies and driver options to ensure that the most suitable technologies are available for commercial manufacturers to design, license, and build fusion power plants that will operate reliably, safely, and economically. In addition, the committee believes that it would be prudent to direct a portion of the inertial fusion energy R&D portfolio at a time frame longer than 20 or 30 years, in order to examine promising but less explored advanced concepts and technologies. Finally, it will be important for a number of reasons to achieve a high target gain (~50–200) for a practical inertial fusion power plant. A fraction of the gross power produced by the plant must be used to drive the driver. This fraction is inversely proportional to the product of target gain and driver efficiency. Therefore, higher target gain leads to higher net energy production and lower cost of power. Target types that have higher overall gain can operate at lower driver energy and still produce adequate energy output.27 This factor is particularly important because a major challenge for achieving competitive fusion power is the capital cost of the facility. Moreover, higher 25 Examples include the following: Thomas M. Anklam, Mike Dunne, Wayne R. Meier, Sarah Powers, and Aaron J. Simon, “LIFE: The Case for Early Commercialization of Fusion Energy,” Fusion Science and Technology, Vol. 60, 66 (2011); W.R. Meier, “Systems Modeling for a Laser driven IFE Power Plant Using Direct Conversion,” J. Phys.: Conf. Ser., Vol. 112, 032036 (2008); S.S. Yu, W.R. Meier, R.P. Abbott, J.J. Barnard, T. Brown, D.A. Callahan, C. Debonnel, P. Heitzenroeder, J.F. Latkowski, B.G. Logan, S.J. Pemberton, P.F. Peterson, D.V. Rose, G L. Sabbi, W.M. Sharp, and D.R. Welch, “An Updated Point Design for Heavy Ion Fusion" Fusion Science and Technology,” Vol. 44, 266 273 (September 2003); W.R. Meier, “Systems Modeling for Z IFE Power Plants,” Fusion Eng. and Design, Vol. 81, 1661 (2006); W.R. Meier, “Osiris and Sombrero Inertial Fusion Power Plant Designs Summary, Conclusion, and Recommendations,” Fusion Eng. Des., Vol. 25, 145 157 (1994), ; L.M. Waganer, “Innovation Leads the Way to Attractive Inertial Fusion Energy Reactors—Prometheus L and Prometheus H,” Fusion Eng. Des., Vol. 25, 125 143 (1994). 26 Hagop Injeyan and Gregory D. Goodno, High Power Laser Handbook, McGraw Hill, 2011. 27 Experience in preparations for the NIF shows that physical variations among targets and shots are likely to produce significant gain variations. One needs the highest feasible nominal gain and the highest feasible driver energy to minimize the effects of these variations. 8

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gain may lead to reduced target costs because, for fixed driver energy, fewer targets would be required to produce a given quantity of energy. Finally, there are often important limits on chamber repetition rate. Increasing target gain, for a given driver energy and a given plant capacity, leads to lower repetition rates. 6 Conclusions and Recommendations Based on the information gathered by the committee through its first four meetings, its site visits, and on its own analysis, the following is a summary of the committee’s preliminary conclusions and recommendations. Conclusion 1: The scientific and technological progress in inertial confinement fusion has been substantial during the past decade, particularly in areas pertaining to the achievement and understanding of high-energy-density conditions in the compressed fuel, in numerical simulations of inertial confinement fusion processes, and in exploring several of the critical technologies required for inertial fusion energy applications (e.g., high-repetition- rate lasers and heavy-ion-beam systems, pulsed-power systems, and cryogenic target fabrication techniques). Despite these advances, however, many of the technologies needed for an integrated inertial fusion energy system are still at an early stage of technological maturity. For all approaches to inertial fusion energy examined by the committee (diode-pumped lasers, KrF lasers, heavy-ion accelerators, pulsed power; indirect drive, and direct drive), there remain critical scientific and engineering challenges associated with establishing the technical basis for an inertial fusion energy demonstration plant. In addition, cost estimates for the R&D program leading to an inertial fusion energy demonstration plant are also at an early stage of development. For example, for energy applications, considerable R&D remains to be carried out in the containment of fusion energy releases at high repetition rates, and in improving the performance of the reactor components over long periods of time. Conclusion 2: It would be premature at the present time to choose a particular driver approach as the preferred option for an inertial fusion energy demonstration plant. The committee recognizes, of course, that such a down-selection among options will eventually have to be made. In its final report, the committee will provide examples of key experimental results that will be needed to inform the decision points regarding which driver-target combinations are most likely to succeed. The committee notes with favor that the inertial confinement fusion community has begun a process to develop community consensus on critical issues and future inertial 9

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fusion energy activities in the United States.28 This important effort should be encouraged, with the overall goal of developing options for a community-based roadmap for the development of inertial fusion as a practical energy source. Increasing the involvement of the university inertial confinement fusion community, as well as drawing on a broader set of technical expertise in micro-fabrication, materials, laser, accelerator, and pulsed-power disciplines, would greatly strengthen this effort. The NIF has been focused on demonstrating ignition in order to achieve its stockpile stewardship mission, and, as such, no shots have been devoted primarily to inertial fusion energy research. Furthermore, the NIF laser, targets, shot repetition rate, production methods, and materials are not specifically designed to be suitable for inertial fusion energy applications. Nevertheless, many experiments that could be done using the NIF would be valuable for inertial fusion energy even if the achievement of ignition is delayed—particularly those that provide experimental validation of predictive capabilities. The above discussion led the committee to make the following recommendation. Recommendation: Planning should begin for making effective use of the National Ignition Facility as one of the major program elements in an assessment of the feasibility of inertial fusion energy.29 7 Path Forward to Complete the Final Report This interim report provides an overview of the committee’s preliminary conclusions and recommendations based on information gathered through its first four meetings. The committee is mindful that inertial fusion science and technology are evolving rapidly, and an effort has thus been made not to draw technical conclusions in the interim report that may change by the time the final report is issued in the summer of 2012. Thus, the interim report is intended to provide the sponsor with a relatively robust sense of the direction of the committee’s assessment and to assist the Department of Energy in planning future-year budget requests for inertial fusion energy, while maintaining the discussion at a moderately high level. After completing its data gathering and analysis process in future meetings, the committee will provide a more detailed description of its 28 “In January of 2010 representatives from the major National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) institutions were challenged by Christopher Deeney, Director of the Office of Inertial Confinement Fusion ICF and Kim Budil, Senior Advisor to the DOE Under Secretary for Science, to develop a consensus position on inertial fusion energy in preparation for the upcoming National Academy of Sciences (NAS) review.” The result was reported by M. Hockaday et al., “White Paper Compilation on Inertial Fusion Energy (IFE) Development (U),” LA UR 11 01934, 2011. 29 A similar recommendation was made in FESAC: A Plan for the Development of Fusion Energy, March 2003. 10

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final findings and recommendations alongside its full assessment of the prospects for inertial fusion energy with regard to each of the bulleted tasks in Appendix B. The committee’s final report is planned to include as an appendix an unclassified version of the Target Physics Panel Report.30 30 The role of the Target Physics Panel is explained in the Preface. Meeting agendas from the Target Physics Panel’s first four meetings are attached to this interim report as Appendix F. 11

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12

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Appendixes 13

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14