Fusion Energy League

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Fusion Day 2013 - The Pitch in 4 Flyers

Rezwan Razani - March 21, 2013

The following text is reprinted from the flyer shown in the side bar. For more information on the authorship of this text and the other flyers, please contact Julie Groeninger:  jgroenin [at] Princeton [dot] edu

SUPPORT FUSION ENERGY SCIENCES IN FY 2014

HELP THE U.S. RETAIN ITS WORLD LEADERSHIP IN FUSION ENERGY

America is among the world leaders in fusion energy – playing a key role in its beginning, conducting many of the milestone experiments, training students to become leaders of the next generation, and collaborating internationally to advance fusion science. However, as the promise of practical fusion energy approaches, our leadership is eroding due to severe budget cuts to our universities, laboratories, and major experimental facilities, as well as inadequate funding for the fulfillment of U.S. ITER obligations. If the U.S. is to retain its status as an international leader in fusion energy, train the fusion researchers of the future, capitalize on the results of ITER, and prepare for the commercialization of fusion energy, funding for both the domestic research program and ITER must be maintained.

Fusion energy is now created routinely in labs around the world, providing ever-increasing confidence that fusion plants can eventually provide power across the globe. China is accelerating its increasingly sophisticated and well-funded magnetic fusion programs to begin operation of a fusion test reactor in the next decade. The European Union has blueprints for a demonstration fusion plant by 2040, while Korea is planning for a full-scale demonstration power plant in the late 2030s. In every case, these plans by our ITER partners (the EU, Japan, Russia, China, India and South Korea) represent significant investments in their own domestic programs in addition to their commitments to ITER.

FUSION ENERGY IS WITHIN REACH AND IS BEING PURSUED BY OTHER NATIONS

Fusion power will be a safe, clean, and sustainable energy source that can provide the U.S. with energy independence and a nearly limitless energy supply. In addition, the research and technology development required for fusion energy has produced – and will continue to produce – benefits in manufacturing, materials, defense, and the understanding of our universe.

FUSION RESEARCH HAS FAR REACHING BENEFITS

Fusion research is being conducted by scientists at labs, universities, and industry across the U.S. Forty- seven states host research facilities or businesses that contribute to the U.S. program.

After years of operating on minimal budgets and effectively decreasing funding, the U.S. fusion program cannot absorb the Administration’s proposed FY 2013 reductions without significant damage to the program and its scientific and engineering contributions.

FUNDING RESTORATION IS CRITICAL TO WORLD LEADERSHIP

A recent report by the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee concluded that the Administration’s FY 2013 budget, which proposed to reduce the domestic fusion program by $49M from the FY 2012 level, is inadequate to address even the highest research priorities in a timely way. This would significantly weaken U.S. capabilities in innovative research and critical discovery science and jeopardize the success of ITER. Additionally, by underfunding the university and laboratory programs necessary to train a first- rate U.S. fusion workforce, our future ability to take advantage of ITER’s results and address issues beyond ITER would be seriously compromised.

Numerous university programs in fusion have already been eliminated. Those that remain face increasing cutbacks in research and the potential loss of even more students and professors as future fusion researchers are discouraged from entering the field. The committee also noted that MIT’s fusion facility is uniquely suited to address some of the urgent tasks relevant to ITER. Its closure would cause severe scientific loss to the U.S. program.

RECOMMENDED ACTION

Sustain the House funding level of $475M for FY 2013 and provide at least $522M for the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences in FY 2014. This will allow funding for the Domestic Fusion Program to remain at the FY 2012 level ($297M) while meeting our scheduled contributions to ITER.

BACKGROUND ON THE U.S. FUSION PROGRAM

The characteristics of fusion as an energy source for the future are unrivaled:

  • Capable of providing large-scale energy supply using domestically available, virtually unlimited fuel;
  • No greenhouse gas or acidic emissions;
  • Inherently safe operation; and
  • No need for long-term waste disposal.

The power source of the sun and stars, fusion energy is created routinely in laboratories here in the U.S. and around the world; the remaining challenge is to complete its development into a practical energy source, which only recently has come within reach worldwide, in no small part due to advances made by the U.S. Fusion program.

There are two components of the U.S. Fusion Program run by the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (OFES) within the Department of Energy’s Office of Science:

The U.S. Contributions to the ITER Project: The creation, control and study of self-heated “burning plasma” is the major next step for magnetic fusion. ITER is a 500 Megawatt, industrial- scale facility that will demonstrate the feasibility of fusion energy and accelerate its commercialization. The components are designed and fabricated by seven international partners (the European Union, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the U.S.) and the facility has already entered the construction phase. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee manages U.S. contributions to the project in partnership with the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and Savannah River National Laboratory. Over 80 percent of the U.S. funds for this project are spent within the U.S. for research, design, and fabrication of components by U.S. industry that will ultimately be shipped to the ITER site for assembly and research operation. Another ten percent funds U.S. personnel working at the ITER site and common expenses. The U.S. will have access to all ITER-developed technology and scientific data while bearing only nine percent of its construction cost. The amount of leverage for the U.S. is extraordinary and this access will directly benefit the domestic research program.

The Domestic Research Program: The domestic fusion program is based on three U.S. magnetic fusion research facilities (DIII-D at General Atomics in California; C-MOD at MIT in Massachusetts; and NSTX at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in New Jersey). Each of these facilities is unique and also complementary; together they enable scientists to understand and optimize the performance of magnetic fusion devices. Critically, the domestic fusion budget also supports numerous and diverse university research and education programs throughout the U.S., as well as research groups at national laboratories, and in private industry, many working collaboratively with scientists at the three main facilities. Research into high energy density laboratory plasmas, fusion theory and modeling, materials science and enabling technologies, and general plasma science, has made this a world-leading program. All of these are key to developing the scientific basis for fusion, establishing the foundation for the next steps in the U.S. fusion program, and providing scientific advances for the ITER project. These facilities and associated research and education programs provide some of the best training available worldwide for the scientists and engineers that make up our workforce, both here in the U.S. and for U.S. teams on facilities abroad such as ITER.

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The above text was reprinted from the flyer shown in the side bar.  For more information on the authorship of this text and the other flyers, please contact Julie Groeninger:  jgroenin [at] Princeton [dot] edu