The Department of Energy has selected eight private industry projects for fusion energy collaboration with DOE national laboratories. The awards are provided through the Innovation Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE), which focuses on five areas of research: enabling technologies; materials; diagnostics; modeling and simulation; and experimental capabilities.
“Some of these recent awards are focused on technology development, material testing, and machine learning,” said Ahmed Diallo, deputy director of INFUSE and a fusion scientist at the DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. “This focus highlights the industry’s needs to accelerate the development of carbon-free fusion energy on the electricity grid—one of the main of objectives of the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference.”
INFUSE background: INFUSE was established in 2019 and is managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and PPPL. The program is sponsored by the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (DOE-FES) within the DOE Office of Science and is focused on accelerating fusion energy development through public-private research partnerships. Each of the one- or two-year awards of between $50,000 and $500,000 includes a 20 percent cost share for industry partners.
For 2021, round 1 funding was announced in July. Now, “This [second] series of selections marks the conclusion of the third year of the INFUSE program, which continues to draw in new applicants every call,” said James Van Dam, associate director for DOE-FES. “Support for INFUSE remains strong in the private fusion sector, and we anticipate growing interest as the program continues to evolve moving forward.”
The awards: The eight selected projects for this round of funding include representation from six private companies and are listed below. Full abstracts for each project are available for download from the INFUSE website.
- Commonwealth Fusion Systems: “Magnetic Pumps for Molten Salt Fusion Devices” and “Neutron Ion Handshake for Fusion Materials.”
- Energy Driven Technology, LLC: “High Heat Flux Exposure of PFC Candidate Fine-Grain Dispersion-Strengthened Tungsten Materials” and “Mechanical Characterization of PFC Candidate Fine-Grain Dispersion-Strengthened Tungsten Materials.”
- General Atomics: “In-Field Performance Testing of a Novel HTS CICC for Practical and Cost-Effective Fusion Magnet Systems.”
- Magneto-Inertial Fusion Technologies, Inc.: “Thermonuclear Fusion Verification of Staged Z-Pinch Fusion on a 0.5 MA LTD Pulsed Power Generator.”
- Renaissance Americas, Inc.: “Artificially Intelligent Optimization of Alpha Particle Transport in Stellarators.”
- Silver Fir Software, Inc.: “Extension of MCNP Mesh Based Weight Windows to Support Unstructured Mesh Topologies.”