The Office of Science’s Fusion Energy Sciences Program: A Ten‐Year Perspective

Report to Congress
December 2015

Message from the Acting Director, Office of Science

This report outlines a scientifically rich and impactful course for U.S. fusion energy research under the Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) program of the Department of Energy over the next 10 years.  The overall mission of the FES program is to expand the fundamental understanding of matter at very high temperatures and densities and build the scientific foundation needed todevelop a fusion energy source.  This is accomplished by studying plasma and its interactions with its surroundings across wide ranges of temperature and density, developing advanced diagnostics to make detailed measurements of its properties and dynamics, and creating theoretical and computational models to resolve essential physics principles.

Executive Summary

The vision described here builds on the present U.S. activities in fusion plasma and materials science relevant to the energy goal and extends plasma science at the frontier of discovery.  The plan is founded on recommendations made by the National Academies, a number of recent studies by the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC), and the Administration’s views on the greatest opportunities for U.S. scientific leadership.  

This report highlights five areas of critical importance for the U.S. fusion energy sciences enterprise over the next decade:  

1) Massively parallel computing with the goal of validated whole‐fusion‐device modeling will enable a transformation in predictive power, which is required to minimize risk in future fusion energy development steps.  

2) Materials science as it relates to plasma and fusion sciences will provide the scientific foundations for greatly improved plasma confinement and heat exhaust.

3) Research in the prediction and control of transient events that can be deleterious to toroidal fusion plasma confinement will provide greater confidence in machine designs and operation with stable plasmas.

4) Continued stewardship of discovery in plasma science that is not expressly driven by the energy goal will address frontier science issues underpinning great mysteries of the visible universe and help attract and retain a new generation of plasma/fusion science leaders.

5) FES user facilities will be kept world‐leading through robust operations support andregular upgrades.

Finally, we will continue leveraging resources among agencies and institutions and strengthening our partnerships with international research facilities.

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