should assess from multiple perspectives the progress in the critical interplay between fusion science and engineering in light of the evolving technological, economic, and social contexts for fusion energy.
Consonant with its charge, the committee has not taken up the many critical-path issues associated with basic technology development for fusion, nor has it looked at the engineering of fusion energy devices and power plants, yet it is the combined progress made in science and engineering that will determine the pace of advancement toward the energy goal. Moreover, since much of fusion science research is undertaken in the expectation that it will contribute to the energy goal, regular, formal assessment of the progress towards fusion energy is one important way in which a fusion science program can be made accountable.
The report is organized into an overview chapter and three working group chapters: “Scientific Progress and the Development of Predictive Capability,” “Plasma Confinement Configurations,” and “Interactions of the Fusion Program with Allied Areas of Science and Technology.”
Chapter 1 summarizes the general findings of the committee that came out of the three working group chapters and committee deliberations. It also refers to other reviews of the program since 1996, touches on the recent history of the tokamak experimental effort, and mentions briefly international efforts to build a fusion reactor, the International Toroidal Experimental Reactor (ITER).
The first priority of the committee was an evaluation of the science being carried out by the DOE's OFES program. Chapter 2 of the report examines the science being done in the program, both in areas where there is state-of-the-art understanding and in areas where further work is needed to achieve the predictive capability that will facilitate the design of the optimum magnetic container for holding hot fusion-grade plasmas. Chapter 2 is the longest chapter of the report since the committee felt an in-depth elucidation of the physics was essential to a proper evaluation. Readers who want only a summary of the scientific progress may read the summary section of the chapter.
In Chapter 3 of the report the various classes of magnetic container or confinement configuration are discussed. The discussion of the devices is organized around four scientific topics to illustrate the commonality of the physics issues being explored in each class of container. This commonality is too often lost when the devices are discussed separately. Enabling technologies and metrics are also discussed. Appendix C presents paragraph-long descriptions of each of the major confinement concepts.
Chapter 4 addresses the interaction between the field of fusion and plasma science and the larger science, engineering, and technology community. Discussed are the deep physics questions that have been addressed by the program, including the generic science results that have impacted other areas of physics, some of the key contributions of U.S. scientists to the international effort, potentially important areas of future interdisciplinary research, leadership in the support of research areas, and recognition for scientific accomplishments.
In addition to Appendix A , Appendix B through Appendic C , which were mentioned above, Appendix D is a glossary of technical terms and Appendix E lists acronyms and abbreviations.