Las Alamos official hopes DOE, congress will take a fresh look at fusion research

Fusion energy holds the tremendous promise of providing safe, clean, and abundant baseload power for the world with no long-lived radioactive waste and minimal nuclear proliferation dangers, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory told a congressional hearing on April 20.

Scott C. Hsu, a scientist in the Physics Division{Plasma Physics Group at Las Alamos was one of several experts to testify before the Energy Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Hsu testified that:

• There is a wide range of scientifically credible innovative fusion energy concepts that warrant further study and exploration.

• Such concepts have a potential to significantly lower the cost and shorten the timeline of fusion energy development, even though many of the concepts are presently at a low technological readiness level.

• Lowering the cost of fusion energy development could have several benefits, the most important of which is enabling a healthy public-private partnership for development, as is done in many other technological fields.

• There are presently no opportunities for new federal support of innovative fusion energy concept development toward a fusion power reactor.

• Recent (Department of Energy) DOE support of innovative fusion energy concept development appears to have been terminated without formal scientific review.

• Congress and DOE should re-assess innovative fusion energy concept development, and strongly consider implementing a new innovative fusion energy concept development program with appropriate program and project metrics to support timely development toward economically competitive fusion power.

• If such a program is implemented, meaningful progress can be made for a modest fraction of the overall fusion energy budget.

The scientist supports an avenue for merit-based federal support for scientifically credible fusion energy research. “Any new program to support innovative fusion energy concept development should pay attention to both the plasma physics challenges as well as criteria for a practical fusion power reactor,” Hsu said.



About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at