In January 2003, President George W. Bush announced that the United States would begin negotiations to join the ITER project and noted that “if successful, ITER would create the first fusion device capable of producing thermal energy comparable to the output of a power plant, making commercially viable fusion power available as soon as 2050.” The United States and the other ITER members are now constructing ITER with the aim to demonstrate that magnetically confined plasmas can produce more fusion power than the power needed to sustain the plasma. This is a critical step towards producing and delivering electricity from fusion energy.
Since the international establishment of the ITER project, ITER’s construction schedule has slipped and ITER’s costs have increased significantly, leading to questions about whether the United States should continue its commitment to participate in ITER. This study will advise how to best advance the fusion energy sciences in the United States given developments in the field, the specific international investments in fusion science and technology, and the priorities for the next ten years developed by the community and the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) that were recently reported to Congress. It will address the scientific justification and needs for strengthening the foundations for realizing fusion energy given a potential choice of U.S. participation or not in the ITER project, and develops future scenarios in either case.
This interim report assesses the current status of U.S. fusion research and of the importance of burning plasma research to the development of fusion energy as well as to plasma science and other science and engineering disciplines. The final report will present strategies that incorporate continued progress toward a burning plasma experiment and a focus on innovation.
Table of Contents
|2 The Committee's Information-Gathering Process||12-13|
|3 Importance of Burning Plasma Research||14-21|
|4 Status of U.S. Research that Supports Burning Plasma Science||22-32|
|6 Toward Completion of the Final Report||38-40|
|Appendix A What is Magnetic Fusion?||41-43|
|Appendix B Statement of Task||44-45|
|Appendix C Agendas from Committee Meetings||46-47|
|Appendix D Previous Studies of Magnetic Fusion Energy and Strategies for Fusion Energy Development Consulted by the Committee||48-52|
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