costs incurred by laser-driven systems for replacing optical components or heavy-ion fusion for replacing final focusing magnets. This kind of operating cost will not be known very well until the end of Phase 2 for any of the approaches to IFE.

Long Term (>20 Years): Build and Operate a Fusion Test Facility

Assuming all milestones in the medium-term program are met, an FTF would be designed to achieve facility breakeven in initial operation (fusion yield of 100-200 MJ) in repetitive pulse operation but for “bursts” of limited duration. Upgrades would enable this facility to increase its yield to ~2 GJ or more. It is too early to provide a credible estimate for the cost of an FTF (see ZFUSE in the Roadmap, below) as the cost of the reactor chamber and recyclable transmission line factory are likely to be dominant and they will not be established until the end of Phase 2.

A conceptual roadmap for implementing the R&D program for pulsed power inertial fusion is shown in Figure 2.13.


There are a number of technical approaches, each involving a different combination of driver, target, and chamber, that show promise for leading to a viable IFE power plant. These approaches involve three kinds of targets: indirect drive, direct drive, and magnetized target. In addition, the chamber may have a solid or a thick-liquid first wall that faces the fusion fuel explosion, as discussed in Chapter 3.

Substantial progress has been made in the last 10 years in advancing most of the elements of these approaches, despite erratic funding for some programs. Nonetheless, substantial amount of R&D will be required to show that any particular combination of driver, target, and chamber would meet the requirements for a demonstration power plant.

In all cases, the drivers may build on decades of research in their area. In all technical approaches there is the need to build a reactor-scale driver module for use in an FTF. The timing for this step is discussed in Chapter 4.

As discussed in Chapter 4, development of an FTF and the upgrade to a demonstration plant requires an integrated system engineering approach supported by R&D at each stage. This statement is true regardless of which driver-target combination is chosen. It also requires involvement and support from the user community (utilities), from the facilities engineering community (large engineering firms), and the government (national laboratories) to conduct R&D and risk reduction programs for laser drivers, target physics, target manufacturing and commissioning, reactors, and balance-of-plant systems. In addition, work must address licensing and environmental and safety issues.

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