The further one looks into the future, the more difficult it is to estimate what the appropriate budget levels should be. Not only are there variables in the budgeting process, there are also uncertainties as to the probability of achieving the research objectives and milestones identified in this report as well as to the length of time needed to achieve them. What makes planning particularly difficult is the fact that three competitive approaches exist, and, ultimately, only one can be selected as the TA for the DEMO.
Research in ICF is currently funded largely by NNSA and involves the weapons laboratories (LLNL, LANL, SNL), NRL, and a number of university-managed laboratories, most notably the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester and LBNL. The major experimental facilities are the laser facilities NIF (at LLNL), OMEGA (at LLE) and NIKE (at NRL), and the pulsed power system Z at SNL. The weapons laboratories and a number of universities house smaller facilities. A Virtual National Laboratory for Heavy Ion Fusion Science consisting of LBNL, LLNL, and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory undertakes the heavy-ion fusion program; its present work is focused on high-energy-density physics and heavy ion fusion science and is funded by DOE’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences. The magnetized target fusion approach is studied by LANL and the Air Force Research Laboratory.11
Previous funding sources for IFE R&D have been diverse and have included Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) funds at the NNSA laboratories—for example, 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, and magnetized target fusion), and congressionally-mandated funding. Beginning in FY1999, Congress directed the initiation of the HAPL program, to be managed by NNSA. The HAPL program was an integrated program to develop the science and technology for fusion energy using laser direct drive. Initially focused on the development of solid-state and KrF laser drivers, HAPL then expanded to address all of the key components of an IFE system, including target fabrication, target injection and engagement, chamber technologies and final optics, and tritium processing.
Currently, by far the largest support for ICF comes under the NNSA Stockpile Stewardship program, which supports LLNL’s activities (including NIF), the program on the OMEGA laser at the University of Rochester, the use of KrF lasers at NRL, and Sandia’s pulsed-power efforts on the Z facility. Within this NNSA program, the main focus was the NIC at NIF. The NIC carried out a 200-shot program on the NIF managed by LLNL. The sequence of shots was focused on a stepwise
11 See Chapter 2 for more discussion on the activities at these institutions.