DOE grants $29 million for fusion energy R&D

September 4, 2020, 6:59AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy announced on September 2 that it has issued $29 million in funding for 14 projects as part of its Galvanizing Advances in Market-aligned fusion for an Overabundance of Watts (GAMOW) program, which is jointly sponsored by the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) and the Office of Science–Fusion Energy Sciences (SC-FES).

According to the DOE, GAMOW teams will work to close multiple fusion-specific technological gaps that will be needed to connect a net-energy-gain “fusion core,” once it is ready, to a deployable, commercially attractive fusion system.

The specifics: The projects will address one or more research and development categories, including (1) technologies, materials, and superconducting magnet and fuel cycle subsystems between the fusion plasma and balance of plant, (2) cost-effective, high-efficiency, high-duty-cycle, electrical driver technologies, and (3) cross-cutting areas such as novel fusion materials and advanced and additive manufacturing for fusion-relevant materials, components, and their cost-effective scale-up.

The DOE said that historically, fusion energy development efforts have largely focused on achieving the required fuel density, temperature, and energy confinement time required for a viable fusion energy system. While recent investments have been made in the development of a viable and net-energy-gain fusion-energy system, there remains a significant need to focus on the materials and enabling technologies that will be needed to establish fusion energy’s technical and commercial viability once net energy gain is achieved.

GAMOW projects will work in cooperation with both publicly and privately funded fusion-development efforts, including ARPA-E’s ALPHA and BETHE fusion programs, and will take advantage of the technical resources and basic research that SC-FES sponsors in these areas. ARPA-E and SC-FES will jointly fund the projects over the program’s three-year lifespan.

A list of the 14 GAMOW projects and their descriptions can be found here.

Quotes: “Fusion energy is a potentially game-changing clean energy source, but it has faced scientific and technical challenges for decades,” said ARPA-E Director Lane Genatowski. “GAMOW teams will work to further develop enabling fusion materials and subsystem technologies, with a focus on the timely future commercialization and deployment of fusion energy generation.”

Chris Fall, director of the DOE’s Office of Science, added, “This program draws on the capabilities and expertise of national laboratories, universities, and private industry to tackle key technological challenges on the road to fusion energy. These projects will help keep America in the forefront of fusion energy research.”

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