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Inertial Fusion Energy: A Clearer View of the Environmental and Safety Aspects

Jeffery F. Latkowski, Jasmina L. Vujic

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 33 / Number 3 / May 1998 / Pages 298-340


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A consistent method for the comparison of environmental, safety, and health (ES&H) characteristics of fusion power plant designs is developed. Such comparisons enable identification of trends in fusion ES&H characteristics and can be used to increase the likelihood of fusion achieving its full potential with respect to ES&H characteristics.

A large number of radiological hazard indexes are defined in three different categories of hazard: accidents, occupational and routine exposures, and waste disposal. Using a consistent set of computer codes, data libraries, and assumptions, these radiological hazard indexes are calculated and compared for five inertial and two magnetic fusion energy power plant designs.

The results of the analysis are threefold: The utility of low-activation materials (LAMs) is confirmed, the tremendous potential for the use of a thick-liquid system for first-wall protection is validated, and the strong need for materials that can last for the lifetime of the power plant is shown.

The conservative radionuclide release fractions that are used show that all but one of the designs has only a minute chance of producing any early fatalities during an accident. The need for remote maintenance in most designs is confirmed, and the possibility of disposing of most fusion wastes via shallow land burial (if the methodology of current regulations is applied to fusion wastes) is shown.

The need for more research in LAMs and for the experimental measurement of radionuclide release fractions under accident conditions is emphasized.

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