The awards will fund research into artificial intelligence and machine learning approaches to developing fusion energy, as well as fundamental theory and simulation.
The Department of Energy announced on March 4 that it will provide $30 million for new research on fusion energy. The funding will provide $17 million for research focused specifically on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) approaches for the prediction of key plasma phenomena, management of facility operations, and accelerated discovery through data science, among other topics. An additional $13 million under a separate funding opportunity will be devoted to fundamental fusion theory research, including computer modeling and simulation, focused on factors affecting the behavior of hot plasmas confined by magnetic fields in fusion reactors.
“Recent advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies can bring new, transformative approaches to tackling fusion energy theories and challenges,” said Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette. “The research funded under these initiatives will be integral to overcoming important barriers to the development of fusion as a practical energy source.”
Undersecretary for Science Paul Dabbar added, “By allocating $30 million towards fusion energy, the Department of Energy is continuing its commitment to advance scientific research and U.S. global competitiveness. This funding only emphasizes our support for artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.”
Applications for the AI/ML funding are open to national laboratories, universities, nonprofits, and private sector companies, working either singly or with multiple institutional partners. Total funding planned for the program is $17 million for projects of two to three years in duration, with $7 million available in fiscal year 2020 and out-year funding contingent on congressional appropriations.
Applications for the theory funding are open to universities, nonprofits, and private sector companies. Funding is expected to be in the form of three-year grants. Total planned funding will be up to $13 million over three years, with up to $7 million available in FY 2020 and out-year funding contingent on congressional appropriations.
The two separate DOE funding opportunity announcements, along with a companion national laboratory call for the AI/ML research, can be found online at <https://science.osti.gov/fes/Funding-Opportunities>.