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Challenges of Fusion Power Plant Licensing: Differences and Commonalities with Existing Systems

L. El-Guebaly, L. Cadwallader, W. Sowder, ARIES Team

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 60 / Number 2 / August 2011 / Pages 751-759


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At present, there are no regulatory guidelines to follow for US fusion power plant construction and operation. Thus far, the Department of Energy (DOE) has been regulating existing fusion experiments, following the 1996-1999 DOE Fusion Standards and using the spirit of the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) code. Considering this reality, a few options emerged for licensing ARIES-type power plants and the like. Developing new fusion-specific regulations stands out as the most logical option, but requires well-coordinated effort between DOE, regulatory agencies, and the fusion community with considerable funding and long lead-time. Nevertheless, a few recent developments seem promising: 1) The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) plans to assert regulatory jurisdiction over commercial fusion devices, and 2) the ongoing effort within ASME will develop rules for the construction of fusion-energy-related components. The most recent NRC, ASME and fusion licensing developments are reviewed in this paper. In addition, an interesting comparison with ITER was made to foresee how US fusion power plants could leverage from ITER.

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