plant. In response to this request, the NRC established the Committee on the Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems; the committee membership is provided in the front matter of this report. The statement of task for the study is as follows:

The Committee will prepare a report that will:

  • Assess the prospects for generating power using inertial confinement fusion;
  • Identify scientific and engineering challenges, cost targets, and R&D objectives associated with developing an IFE demonstration plant; and
  • Advise the U.S. Department of Energy on its development of an R&D roadmap aimed at creating a conceptual design for an inertial fusion energy demonstration plant.

The Committee will also prepare an interim report to inform future year planning by the federal government.


The study committee, consisting of 22 members from many fields, published its interim report in 2012.20 Although the committee carried out its work in an unclassified environment, it was recognized that some of the research relevant to the prospects for IFE systems has been conducted under the auspices of the nation’s nuclear weapons program and has been classified. Therefore, the NRC established a separate Panel on the Assessment of Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) Targets to explore the extent to which past and ongoing classified research affects the prospects for practical inertial fusion energy systems. The panel was also tasked with the analysis of the nuclear proliferation risks associated with IFE. The panel’s statement of task is given in Appendix B.

The panel on targets exchanged unclassified information informally with the committee in the course of the study process, and the committee was aware of its evolving conclusions. The unclassified version of the Summary from the panel’s report is included as Appendix H.

The analysis in this report is based on the following:

  • Reviewing many past studies on inertial fusion energy systems (see Appendix E);
  • Receiving briefings on ongoing research related to IFE systems in the United States and around the world;


20 NRC, 2012, Interim Report—Status of the Study “Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy,” The National Academies Press: Washington, D.C

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