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Panel on the Assessment of Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) Targets

Summary

The energy produced by nuclear fusion has the potential to provide a low-carbon, base-load source of electricity; however, significant scientific and engineering efforts are still required before the feasibility of a commercial fusion plant can be established.  Initiating fusion based upon magnetic confinement and inertial confinement of the fusion plasma have been studied for decades.  In inertial confinement fusion (ICF), a driver delivers energy to the surface of a pellet of fuel, heating and compressing it.  There are many approaches for initiation fusion using inertial confinement.  For example, different driver concepts have very different operating conditions and characteristics.  Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each approach is central to the effort to develop IFE as a power source.

Given the current level of activity in ICF research, now is an appropriate time to consider how to proceed regarding inertial fusion as a potential power source. An NRC committee and panel will be formed to provide findings and recommendations to advise DOE on the development of an R&D roadmap for inertial fusion energy.  All the approaches to ICF will require much investigation and will need to be considered in any long-term R&D strategy.

This study will be carried out by an NRC panel over a period of 21 months.

Project Information

  • Statement of Task
  • Committee Members and NRC Staff
  • Upcoming Events
  • Community Input
  • Sponsor
  • The National Academies' Current Projects System

Statement of Task

A Panel on Fusion Target Physics (“the Panel”) will serve as a technical resource to the Committee on Inertial Confinement Energy Systems (“the Committee”) and will prepare a report that describes the R&D challenges to providing suitable targets, on the basis of parameters established and provided to the Panel by the Committee.


In its report, the Panel will assess the current performance of fusion targets associated with various Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) concepts in order to understand:

1. The spectrum output;

2. The illumination geometry;

3. The high-gain geometry; and

4. The robustness of the target design.

The Panel will also address the potential impacts of the use and development of current concepts for Inertial Fusion Energy on the proliferation of nuclear weapons information and technology, as appropriate. The Target Physics Panel will examine technology options, but will not provide recommendations specific to any currently operating or proposed ICF facility.

The project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The start date for the project was 8/5/2010.

Note (05/04/2011): The Project Scope was expanded to address potential impacts on proliferation from inertial fusion energy development and use. The updated version is shown above.

 

 

Panel Members and NRC Staff

Panel Membership
John Ahearne, Chair
Sigma Xi 
Robert Dynes, University of California-San Diego 
Douglas Eardley, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics
David Harding, University of Rochester
Thomas Mehlhorn, Naval Research Laboratory 
Merri Wood-Schultz, Consultant
George Zimmerman, Consultant

NRC Staff
Sara Case,
Study Director and Nuclear Radiation Studies Board Program Officer
James Zucchetto, Director,  Board on Energy and Environmental Systems (BEES)
Greg Eyring, Staff Officer, Air Force Studies Board
LaNita Jones, Administrative Coordinator, BEES

Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events scheduled.

Past Events

July 6-8, 2011
Meeting 4
Rochester, New York
Meeting information and agenda (available on the Academies' Current Project System)
Meeting presentations are available by request through the Academies' Public Access Records Office.  Some presentations are available online at an external site not controlled by or associated with the Academies.

February 16-17, 2011
Meeting 1
Washington, D.C.
Meeting information and agenda (available on the Academies' Current Project System)
Meeting presentations are available by request through the Academies' Public Access Records Office.  Some presentations are available online at an external site not controlled by or associated with the Academies.

Community Input

Sponsor

The project is pleased to acknowledge support from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, Office of Nuclear Energy, and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The National Academies' Current Projects System

The National Academies' Current Projects System maintains the public record of a committees' activities compliant to Section 15 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.  Visit the committee to Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems' Current Project page for more information.