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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Interim Report—Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13371.
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Interim Report—Status of the Study
“An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy”

Committee on the Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems
Board on Physics and Astronomy
Board on Energy and Environmental Systems
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Interim Report—Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13371.
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

Support for this project was provided by Contract 10NA001274 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the agency that provided support for the project.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Interim Report—Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13371.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Interim Report—Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13371.
×

COMMITTEE ON THE PROSPECTS FOR INERTIAL CONFINEMENT FUSION ENERGY SYSTEMS

RONALD C. DAVIDSON, Princeton University, Co-Chair

GERALD L. KULCINSKI, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Co-Chair

CHARLES BAKER, University of California, San Diego (retired)

ROGER BANGERTER, E. O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (retired)

RICCARDO BETTI, University of Rochester

JAN BEYEA, Consulting in the Public Interest

ROBERT L. BYER, Stanford University

FRANKLIN CHANG-DIAZ, Ad Astra Rocket Company

STEVEN C. COWLEY, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority

RICHARD L. GARWIN, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center

DAVID HAMMER, Cornell University

JOSEPH S. HEZIR, EOP Group, Inc.

KATHRYN McCARTHY, Idaho National Laboratory

LAWRENCE T. PAPAY, PQR, LLC

KEN SCHULTZ, General Atomics [Retired]

ANDREW M. SESSLER, E. O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

JOHN SHEFFIELD, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

THOMAS A. TOMBRELLO, JR., California Institute of Technology

DENNIS G. WHYTE, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

JONATHAN S. WURTELE, University of California, Berkeley

ROSA YANG, Electric Power Research Institute, Inc.

MALCOLM McGEOCH, Consultant, PLEX, LLC

Staff

DAVID LANG, Program Officer, Board on Physics and Astronomy, Study Director

GREG EYRING, Program Officer, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

TERI THOROWGOOD, Administrative Coordinator, Board on Physics and Astronomy

JONATHAN YANGER, Senior Project Assistant, Board on Energy and Environmental Systems

ERIN BOYD, Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellow (January-April, 2011)

DONALD C. SHAPERO, Director, Board on Physics and Astronomy

JAMES ZUCCHETTO, Director, Board on Energy and Environmental Systems

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Interim Report—Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13371.
×

BOARD ON PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY

ADAM S. BURROWS, Princeton University, Chair

PHILIP H. BUCKSBAUM, Stanford University, Vice Chair

RICCARDO BETTI, University of Rochester

JAMES DRAKE, University of Maryland

JAMES EISENSTEIN, California Institute of Technology

DEBRA M. ELMEGREEN, Vassar College

PAUL FLEURY, Yale University

STUART FREEDMAN, University of California, Berkeley

LAURA H. GREENE, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

MARTHA P. HAYNES, Cornell University

JOSEPH HEZIR, EOP Group, Inc.

MARK B. KETCHEN, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center

JOSEPH LYKKEN, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

HOMER A. NEAL, University of Michigan

MONICA OLVERA de la CRUZ, Northwestern University

PAUL SCHECHTER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

BORIS SHRAIMAN, Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics

MICHAEL S. TURNER, University of Chicago

DONALD C. SHAPERO, Director

JAMES LANCASTER, Associate Director

DAVID LANG, Program Officer

CARYN JOY KNUTSEN, Associate Program Officer

TERI THOROWGOOD, Administrative Coordinator

BETH DOLAN, Financial Associate

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Interim Report—Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13371.
×

BOARD ON ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS

ANDREW BROWN, JR., Delphi Corporation, Chair

WILLIAM BANHOLZER, The Dow Chemical Company

MARILYN BROWN, Georgia Institute of Technology

WILLIAM CAVANAUGH, Progress Energy (retired), Raleigh, North Carolina

PAUL A. DECOTIS, New York State Energy R&D Authority

CHRISTINE EHLIG-ECONOMIDES, Texas A&M University

SHERRI GOODMAN, CNA, Alexandria, Virginia

NARAIN HINGORANI, Consultant, Los Altos Hills, California

ROBERT J. HUGGETT, College of William and Mary

DEBBIE A. NIEMEIER, University of California at Davis

DANIEL NOCERA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER, Princeton University

DAN REICHER, Climate Change & Energy Initiatives, Google.org

BERNARD ROBERTSON, DaimlerChrysler Corporation (retired)

GARY ROGERS, President, FEV, Inc., Auburn Hills, Michigan

ALISON SILVERSTEIN, Consultant, Pflugerville, Texas

MARK THIEMENS, University of California at San Diego

RICHARD WHITE, Oppenheimer & Company, New York, New York

JAMES J. ZUCCHETTO, Director

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Interim Report—Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13371.
×

Preface

Recent scientific and technological progress in inertial confinement fusion (ICF), together with the campaign for achieving the important milestone of ignition on the National Ignition Facility (NIF), motivated the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of the Under Secretary for Science to request that the National Research Council (NRC) undertake a study to assess the prospects for inertial fusion energy (IFE) and provide advice on the preparation of a research and development (R&D) roadmap leading to an IFE demonstration plant. The statement of task for the full NRC study is given in Appendix B. In response to this request, the National Research Council established the Committee on the Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems.

As part of the study, the sponsor also requested that the National Research Council provide an interim report to assist it in formulating its budget request for future budget cycles (see Appendix B). This interim report, which has a limited scope and does not fully address all of the bulleted items in Appendix B, is intended to provide the sponsor with a status report on the committee’s progress and a summary of the committee’s preliminary conclusions and recommendations based on the information it received during its first four meetings (see Appendix D) and from its review of relevant reports (see Appendix E).

These four meetings were concerned mainly with information gathering through presentations, and the committee is only now carrying out the detailed analysis of the many important topics that will be included in its final report. Important topics that are not addressed in this interim report—but will be addressed to the extent possible in the final report—include an analysis of the cost-effectiveness of inertial fusion energy, a comparison of the various driver options, and an R&D roadmap at the conceptual level for a national program aimed at the design and construction of an inertial fusion energy demonstration plant, including approximate estimates, where possible, of the funding required at each stage. At the outset of the study, the committee decided that the fusion-fission hybrid was outside the scope of the study.

Although the committee is carrying out its work in an unclassified environment, it was recognized that some of the research relevant to the prospects for inertial fusion energy systems has been conducted under the auspices of the nation’s nuclear weapons program, and has been classified. Therefore, the NRC established the separate Panel on the Assessment of Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) Targets (see Appendix C) 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 analyzing the nuclear proliferation risks associated with IFE (see Appendix B); although that

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Interim Report—Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13371.
×

analysis was not available for inclusion in this interim report, the committee will review and discuss it in its final report.

The Target Physics Panel has exchanged unclassified information informally with the committee in the course of the study process, and the committee is aware of the panel’s evolving conclusions.

The panel plans to produce both a classified and an unclassified report; the timing of the latter is such that it would be available to inform this committee’s final report and would be included as an appendix in that report. The statement of task of the Target Physics Panel is given in Appendix B and the panel’s meeting agendas appear in Appendix F.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Interim Report—Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13371.
×

Acknowledgment of Reviewers

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council (NRC). The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Douglas M. Chapin, MPR Associates

Stirling A. Colgate, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Robert W. Conn, The Kavli Foundation

Michael I. Corradini, University of Wisconsin

James F. Drake, Jr., University of Maryland

R. Paul Drake, University of Michigan

Harold K. Forsen, Bechtel Corporation (retired)

Arjun Makhijani, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Robert H. Socolow, Princeton University

Frank N. von Hippel, Princeton University

Stanford E. Woosley, University of California at Santa Cruz

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Louis J. Lanzerotti, New Jersey Institute of Technology. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Interim Report—Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13371.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Interim Report—Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13371.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. Interim Report—Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13371.
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The scientific and technological progress in inertial confinement fusion has been substantial during the past decade. However, many of the technologies needed for an integrated inertial fusion energy system are still at an early stage of technological maturity. For all approaches to inertial fusion energy there remain critical scientific and engineering challenges.

In this interim report of the study An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy, the Committee on the Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems outlines their preliminary conclusions and recommendations of the feasibility of inertial fusion energy. The committee also describes its anticipated next steps as it prepares its final report.

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