limited the size, nature, and degree of involvement of the basic plasma research community doing related work.
Past classification and facility access policies compounded this problem. However, recent DOE plans to declassify large portions of the ICF program provide a major opportunity to involve the basic plasma research community.
Given budgetary constraints, capital-intensive full-scale experimentation can constrain support for more fundamental theoretical and experimental scaling research and modeling. Although full-scale experimentation is essential, the inclusion of a basic plasma science research component within the fusion energy program can lead to a more timely achievement of the basic goals.
The ability to conduct basic plasma science research in ICF, as described above, depends critically on the accessibility of facilities and the availability of equipment, independent of the organizations and personnel involved. A dual approach is suggested. The previous policy of developing facilities for full-scale experimentation has put in place large numbers of components, subsystems, and equipment. The reconfiguration and recommissioning of smaller-scale research facilities should be considered to make effective use of existing equipment and capabilities.
Consideration should be given to providing the opportunity for a broader representation of participating organizations. Interested universities, small businesses, and corporate America could participate competitively, while at the same time offering cost-sharing opportunities. Existing federal programs, such as the National Laser User Facility (NLUF), the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, and Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) between industry and the national laboratories, could be helpful in this effort.
Consideration should be given to allocation of funding within the inertial confinement fusion program to support more related basic research and use of major ICF facilities as national user facilities. Where appropriate, ICF facility use should be encouraged in support of nonfusion programs. If no additional funding is available, basic plasma science research judged to be the most important could be funded from large facility accounts.