In DepthEnergy Research

U.S. fusion effort melts down

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Science  19 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6216, pp. 1436-1437
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6216.1436

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Dysfunctional, broken, in complete disarray: That's how numerous insiders describe the United States' research effort in fusion, which aims to generate energy using the same process that powers the sun. A rift has opened between officials in the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) program and the research community it supports. Many scientists say Edmund Synakowski, DOE's associate director for FES, and his staff operate opaquely, but the community itself has a reputation for being unmanageable. The discord has muddled an effort to draw up a strategic plan for the program, due in Congress next month. It could jeopardize the program's already strained $505 million annual budget.