Research and Development
|Review of DOE's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program
There has been a substantial resurgence of interest in nuclear power in the United States over the past few years. One consequence has been a rapid growth in the research budget of DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy (NE). In light of this growth, the Office of Management and Budget included within the FY2006 budget request a study by the National Academy of Sciences to review the NE research programs and recommend priorities among those programs. The programs to be evaluated were: Nuclear Power 2010 (NP 2010), Generation IV (GEN IV), the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative (NHI), the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)/Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI), and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) facilities. This book presents a description and analysis of each program along with specific findings and recommendations. It also provides an assessment of program priorities and oversight.
|The National Science Foundation's Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers Program: Looking Back, Moving Forward
The Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC) Impact Assessment Committee was convened by the National Research Council in response to an informal request from the National Science Foundation. Charged to examine the impact of the MRSEC program and to provide guidance for the future, the committee included experts from across materials research as well as several from outside the field. The committee developed a general methodology to examine the MRSEC centers and after extensive research and analysis, came to the following conclusions. MRSEC center awards continue to be in great demand. The intense competition within the community for them indicates a strong perceived value. Using more quantitative measures, the committee examined the performance and impact of MRSEC activities over the past decade in the areas of research, facilities, education and outreach, and industrial collaboration and technology transfer. The MRSEC program has had important impacts of the same high standard of quality as those of other multi-investigator or individual-investigator programs. Although the committee was largely unable to attribute observed impacts uniquely to the MRSEC program, MRSECs generally mobilize efforts that would not have occurred otherwise. Because of an observed decline in the effectiveness of the centers, the committee recommended a restructuring the MRSEC program to allow more efficient use and leveraging of resources. The new program should fully invest in centers of excellence as well as in stand-alone teams of researchers to allow tighter focus on key strengths of the program. In its report, the committee outlines one potential vision for how this might be accomplished in a revenue-neutral fashion.
|Condensed-Matter and Materials Physics: The Science of the World Around Us
As part of the 2010 physics decadal survey project, DOE and NSF requested the NRC to assess opportunities, over roughly the next decade, in condensed matter and materials physics (CMMP). The study is to review recent accomplishments and new opportunities; identify potential future impact of CMMP; consider its contributions to national needs; assessing priorities for tools and facilities; analyze current research and funding; and make recommendations for realizing the full benefit of CMMP. This report presents a survey of the CMMP field during the last decade, including the state of federal and private support of CMMP within the United States, and looks ahead to the intellectual and technological challenges of the coming decade. This discussion is centered about six grand challenges concerning energy demand, the physics of life, information technology, nanotechnology, complex phenomena, and behavior far from equilibrium.
|Decadal Science Strategy Surveys: Report of a Workshop
The Workshop on Decadal Science Strategy Surveys was held on November 14-16, 2006, to promote discussions of the use of National Research Council (NRC) decadal surveys for developing and implementing scientific priorities, to review lessons learned from the most recent surveys, and to identify potential approaches for future surveys that can enhance their realism, utility, and endurance. The workshop involved approximately 60 participants from academia, industry, government, and the NRC. This report summarizes the workshop presentations, panel discussions, and general discussions on the use of decadal surveys for developing and implementing scientific priorities in astronomy and astrophysics, planetary science, solar and space physics, and Earth science. Decadal Science Strategy Surveys: Report of a Workshop summarizes the evnts of the three day workshop.
|Plasma Science: Advancing Knowledge in the National Interest
As part of its current physics decadal survey, Physics 2010, the NRC was asked by the DOE, NSF, and NASA to carry out an assessment of and outlook for the broad field of plasma science and engineering over the next several years. The study was to focus on progress in plasma research, identify the most compelling new scientific opportunities, evaluate prospects for broader application of plasmas, and offer guidance to realize these opportunities. The study paid particular attention to these last two points. This demand-side perspective provided a clear look at what plasma research can do to help achieve national goals of fusion energy, economic competitiveness, and nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship. The report provides an examination of the broad themes that frame plasma research: low-temperature plasma science and engineering; plasma physics at high energy density; plasma science of magnetic fusion; space and astrophysical science; and basic plasma science. Within those themes, the report offers a bold vision for future developments in plasma science.