In split from Euratom, U.K. will spend nearly $812 million on domestic fusion R&D

September 13, 2023, 12:06PMNuclear News

Having decided “to not associate to the Euratom Research and Training program (Euratom R&T) and, by extension, the Fusion for Energy Program,” the government of the United Kingdom announced plans on September 7 to support its homegrown UK Fusion Strategy by investing up to £650 million (about $811.8 million) through 2027 in a suite of research and development programs to support the country’s fusion sector and strengthen international collaboration. The funds are in addition to the £126 million (about $157.3 million) announced in November 2022 to support U.K. fusion R&D.

New research funding will leverage machine learning and AI for fusion energy

September 12, 2023, 9:27AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy announced $29 million in funding for seven team awards for research in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data resources for fusion energy sciences on August 31. In all, 19 institutions will build algorithms to address high-priority research opportunities in fusion and plasma sciences using interdisciplinary collaborations of fusion and plasma researchers teamed with data and computational scientists.

DOE invests $112 million in computational fusion energy research

August 15, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science announced $112 million in funding on August 14 for 12 projects designed by fusion scientists, applied mathematicians, and computer scientists to apply high-performance computing and exascale computers to complex fusion energy problems.

The list of projects and more information can be found on the Fusion Energy Sciences homepage.

General Fusion presses toward goal of magneto-inertial breakeven by 2026

August 11, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News
General Fusion’s current plasma injector (PI3) is the 25th in a series of prototypes developed by the company. (Photo: General Fusion)

General Fusion announced on August 9 that it will build a fusion machine called Lawson Machine 26 (LM26) at the company’s new headquarters in the city of Richmond, British Columbia, near Vancouver. The machine is intended to achieve fusion conditions of over 100 million degrees Celsius by 2025 and progress toward scientific breakeven by 2026 to support the company’s vision of commercial fusion energy by the early to mid-2030s.

University of Rochester aims for mass production of inertial fusion energy targets

July 18, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
A view through the 20-cm disk amplifiers of the OMEGA laser at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics. (Photo: University of Rochester/J. Adam Fenster)

Proponents of inertial fusion energy celebrated in December 2022, when researchers at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory achieved fusion ignition by subjecting a carefully crafted diamond cryogenic sphere containing frozen deuterium-tritium fuel to NIF’s laser energy. NIF has yet to repeat the feat, in part because that facility was not designed to produce fusion energy, and ignition requires near-perfect targets. For inertial fusion energy to serve as a reliable power source, it will require swift, reliable, and economic target production.

Commonwealth Fusion Systems and Tokamak Energy: DOE’s tokamak fusion pilot picks

July 14, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) and Tokamak Energy Inc. are the two magnetic confinement tokamak fusion developers to receive a portion of the $46 million in funding announced by the Department of Energy in late May for the first 18 months of a public-private Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program aimed at developing fusion pilot plant designs and resolving related scientific and technological challenges within five to 10 years.

Princeton Stellarators and Type One Energy: DOE’s stellarator fusion pilot picks

July 3, 2023, 8:00AMNuclear News

Princeton Stellarators Inc. (PSI) and Type One Energy Group are two of the eight fusion developers selected by the Department of Energy in late May to receive a total of $46 million in funding to kick off a public-private Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program aimed at developing fusion pilot plant designs and resolving related scientific and technological challenges within five to 10 years. The DOE’s selections cover an array of plasma confinement concepts, including the magnetic confinement stellarators being developed by PSI and Type One more than 70 years after the stellarator was first envisioned.

Nuclear Newswire previously took a close look at two of the DOE’s picks: Realta Fusion and Zap Energy (“innovative concept”) and Focused Energy and Xcimer Energy (inertial fusion). Here, we’ll examine how PSI and Type One are engineering solutions to the fusion plasma confinement challenge. Both companies are benefiting from recent advances in computing power and high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets. It’s in plans for design, manufacturing, assembly, and control of their stellarators that they differ.

Focused Energy and Xcimer Energy: DOE’s inertial fusion pilot picks

June 21, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

Focused Energy and Xcimer Energy are two of the eight fusion developers the Department of Energy selected in late May for funding under the public-private Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program, and the only developers using an inertial confinement concept. The Milestone program, announced in September 2022, was open to any fusion developer willing to undergo a competitive merit-review process, regardless of fusion confinement concept. But the prospects for inertial fusion concepts might have gotten a boost from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s December 2022 achievement of scientific breakeven at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), which was announced shortly before the application window for the Milestone program closed.

Realta Fusion and Zap Energy: DOE’s "innovative concept" fusion pilot picks

June 9, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

Realta Fusion of Madison, Wis., and Zap Energy of Everett, Wash., are just two of the eight fusion developers selected by the Department of Energy for funding last week under the public-private Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program. They are the two companies with power plant concepts that don’t fit neatly into established fusion confinement categories. As energy secretary Jennifer Granholm said when she announced the awardees, “Some are working on more technically mature approaches like tokamaks and stellarators and laser inertial fusion, and others are working on innovative concepts with lower technical maturity like mirror and Z-pinch, which could lead to more compact and lower cost systems.”

DOE picks eight fusion companies to design pilot power plants

June 2, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Announcing the funding for commercial fusion energy development were Asmeret Asefaw Berhe (top left), director of the DOE-OS; Jennifer Granholm, secretary of energy (top right); and Arati Prabhakar (bottom), director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and science advisor to the president.

From a crowded field of would-be fusioneers, the Department of Energy has selected eight companies for the public-private Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program to develop fusion pilot plant designs and resolve related scientific and technological challenges within five to 10 years. The DOE announced awards totaling $46 million for an initial 18 months of work on May 31.

General Atomics and Tokamak Energy join forces on HTS magnet tech

June 1, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
GA’s Magnet Technologies Center. (Photo: GA)

General Atomics (GA) and Tokamak Energy Ltd. are each independently developing magnetic confinement fusion power plant concepts that would use a tokamak and high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets to confine and shape a plasma heated to over 100 million degrees Celsius. On May 30, they announced a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on HTS magnet technology for fusion energy and other applications.

Two reports sound alarm on supply chain deployment risks—for fission and fusion

May 19, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

Reports released this week point to a clean energy future fueled by atomic energy—if and when pressing supply chain issues can be resolved. Advanced Reactor Roadmap, Phase 1: North America, released on May 15 by the Electric Power Research Institute and the Nuclear Energy Institute, takes a broad look at the deployment of advanced fission reactors and identifies supply chain ramp-up as one key enabler. The Fusion Industry Supply Chain: Opportunities and Challenges, released by the Fusion Industry Association on May 17, focuses on fusion energy supply chain issues.

DOE celebrates NIF ignition by funding R&D hubs for inertial fusion energy

May 16, 2023, 7:04AMNuclear News
Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm addresses an audience of lab staff, dignitaries, and media at LLNL. (Photo: LLNL)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory hosted current and former staff, government officials, and media on May 8 to celebrate the lab’s achievement of fusion ignition at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) on December 5, 2022. Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and undersecretary for nuclear security and National Nuclear Security Administration administrator Jill Hruby were in attendance, and Granholm took the opportunity to announce funding of up to $45 million to support inertial fusion energy (IFE) research and development. The Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE-SC) wants to establish multiple IFE Science and Technology Innovation Hubs (IFE S&T hubs), with total funding for 2023 of up to $9 million for projects lasting up to four years in duration.

Bill defining nuclear as clean energy passes N.C. Senate

April 28, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

The North Carolina Senate on April 26 unanimously (48–0) endorsed a measure that, if signed into law, would open the door to new nuclear development in the state—both fission and fusion.

The Promote Clean Energy bill (S.B. 678)—introduced just this month and now with the state’s House for consideration—replaces the term “renewable energy” in statutory language with “clean energy” and adds nuclear to the new term’s definition.

LLNL’s Annie Kritcher named to TIME100 for her role in fusion breakthrough

April 26, 2023, 12:00PMEdited April 26, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
LLNL design physicist Annie Kritcher is honored as one of the TIME100 Most Influential People. (Photo: Blaise Douros/LLNL)

Physicist Andrea “Annie” Kritcher’s dedication to fusion target design has earned her a spot on the TIME100 Most Influential People list for 2023. Today, Kritcher and 99 other individuals on that list—among them Elon Musk, King Charles, Judy Blume, Patrick Mahomes, Beyoncé, Lionel Messi, Janet Yellen, and MrBeast—are being honored at the TIME100 Summit and Gala at the Lincoln Center in New York City.

Equipped with armor tiles, DIII-D takes “negative triangularity” plasma to new highs

April 26, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
A side-by-side comparison of a standard plasma configuration (at left) and the plasma created during the negative triangularity campaign at DIII-D, which was made possible by the installation of a temporary divertor region. (Image: General Atomics)

The DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego, Calif., has completed a monthlong research campaign using a negative triangularity plasma configuration inside its fusion tokamak and produced initial data that “appear very encouraging,” according to an April 24 news release from General Atomics (GA), which operates the Office of Science user facility on behalf of the Department of Energy. Full experimental results on “the highest-powered negative triangularity experiments in the history of the U.S. fusion research program” are expected this summer, according to GA.

NRC rejects hybrid approach to fusion regulation in a vote for clarity

April 19, 2023, 9:34AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced on April 14 that it will regulate fusion energy systems using a framework based on the agency’s 10 CFR Part 30 process for licensing byproduct material facilities—such as particle accelerators—rather than 10 CFR Parts 50 and 52, which are used to license utilization facilities like fission power reactors. The commission’s decision means that future fusion energy facilities could be regulated by Agreement States acting with guidance from the NRC.

Wanted: Information leading to a neutron source for fusion energy R&D

March 29, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science published a notice in the March 27 Federal Register calling for input on technological approaches to a Fusion Prototypic Neutron Source (FPNS) for materials irradiation research under DOE-SC’s Fusion Energy Sciences program, as well as partnership models that could accelerate the construction and delivery of the facility. The request for information (RFI) calls for responses by May 11.

U.K. and U.S. national laboratories fuse interests in plasma partnership

March 21, 2023, 3:08PMNuclear News
The UKAEA will provide novel fusion materials to be irradiated in ORNL’s HFIR facility over the next four years. Pictured (from left) are Kathy McCarthy, director of the U.S. ITER Project; Jeremy Busby, ORNL’s associate lab director for fusion and fission energy and science; Mickey Wade, ONRL Fusion Energy Division director; Ian Chapman, chief executive officer of the UKAEA; Cynthia Jenks, ORNL’s associate lab director for physical sciences; and Yutai Kato, ORNL Materials Science and Technology Division interim director.

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) have formed a strategic research partnership to investigate how different types of materials behave under the influence of high-energy neutron sources. The five-year partnership was announced by ORNL and by the UKAEA on March 13.

ARPA-E picks eight teams to prove—or debunk—low-energy nuclear reactions

February 23, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) announced $10 million in funding on February 17 for eight projects designed to determine whether low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR)—historically and sometimes disparagingly known as “cold fusion”—could someday be a carbon-free energy source. ARPA-E intends the funding to “break the stalemate” and determine if LENR holds any merit for future energy research.