FIA publishes “snapshot in time” fusion industry report

July 19, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News

Following new federal funding and programs announced in June to support a “bold decadal vision” for fusion energy in the United States, and the enactment of the Fusion Energy Act in July, fusion energy trade group the Fusion Industry Association has released its latest annual survey of fusion companies: The Global Fusion Industry in 2024.

This fourth annual report includes responses from three companies that were not surveyed in 2023 as well as an additional $900 million of reported funding in the past year. That’s growth—but growth that falls short of the “bold” expectations set by the eye-popping $2.8 billion of funding reported by private companies in 2022, as media outlets—including Reuters, with the headline “Global Fusion Energy Investment Growth Falls for Second Year”—were quick to point out.

Props and jets

July 3, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

A good bit of this month’s edition of Nuclear News is devoted to the latest developments in fusion energy.

While 2024 may not have the punchy investment headlines of ’22, I think it’s fair to say that fusion energy technology is making tangible progress beneath the surface, with unannounced stealth funding plans and the continuation of public-private partnerships.

When will it become a productive element of our global energy architecture? No one knows for sure. There are still myriad challenges to be solved in high-temperature ­materials, high–critical temperature superconductors, advanced algorithms, and tritium fuel cycle control, just to name a few. But every day, fusion feels a tiny bit more mature, like somehow it has left its childhood bedroom in physics to move into the dorm room of engineering.

New fusion energy strategies and partnerships announced at White House event

June 10, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News

Just one week after the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy hosted a summit on domestic nuclear deployment, they filled a room again on June 6 for a livestreamed event cohosted with the Department of Energy to announce a new DOE fusion energy strategy and new public-private partnership programs, and to hear directly from stakeholders—including scientists, private fusion companies, investors, and end users—during panel discussions on fusion science and technology progress and the path to fusion energy commercialization.

Xcimer raises $100 million to invest in inertial fusion laser tech

June 6, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News
Xcimer Energy’s headquarters in Denver, Colo. (Photo: Xcimer Energy)

Xcimer Energy announced June 4 that it has raised $100 million in Series A financing for a new facility in Denver, Colo., that will host a prototype laser system with “the world’s largest nonlinear optical pulse compression system.” As a private fusion developer, Xcimer wants to “extend the proven science of inertial fusion to industrial scale” with the help of that laser system and “key technologies and innovations from multiple fields.”

FIRE: The DOE’s new plan for “building bridges” to fusion energy

June 4, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
A slide on the FIRE collaboratives presented during a recent FES webinar. (Graphic: FES)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) wants Fusion Innovation Research Engine (FIRE) collaboratives to be a bridge between FES’s basic science research programs and the growing fusion industry. A funding opportunity announcement released May 22 explains that FIRE will be a “transformative initiative aimed at creating a fusion innovation ecosystem” with virtual, centrally managed collaboratives working on “end-use inspired” fusion science and technology R&D.

DIII-D upgrades to shape the future of magnetic fusion energy research

May 13, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
An engineer adjusts mirrors while installing new diagnostic equipment inside the DIII-D tokamak. (Photo: General Atomics)

The DIII-D National Fusion Facility is starting up after an eight-month experimental hiatus, equipped with new and improved plasma control and diagnostic systems. The upgrades will help researchers from around the nation and the world resolve key physics questions to bridge the gap between current magnetic confinement fusion research and the first fusion power pilot plants. General Atomics, which operates DIII-D for the Department of Energy, announced the completion of upgrades on May 8.

Fusion Energy Week begins today

May 6, 2024, 7:03AMNuclear News
Illustration by Ana Kova for U.S. Fusion Outreach

Fusion is riding a surge of attention that began in December 2022 when researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility achieved fusion ignition. The organizers of Fusion Energy Week—a group called the U.S. Fusion Outreach Team—on the other hand, trace fusion development back 100 years to the doctoral research of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, who discovered that stars, including our Sun, are mostly made of hydrogen and helium, which in turn led to the understanding that those elements are the “fuel” of potential fusion energy systems on Earth. In recognition of Payne-Gaposchkin’s birthday—May 10—the U.S. Fusion Outreach Team plans to hold a “grassroots celebration of fusion energy” May 6–10, 2024, and annually during the second week of May.

Bipartisan Fusion Energy Act pushes for regulatory clarity

May 2, 2024, 12:01PMNuclear News


Sen. Alex Padilla (D., Calif.) introduced the Fusion Energy Act (S. 4151) last month with a bipartisan group of cosponsors—John Cornyn (R., Texas), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Todd Young (R., Ind.), and Patty Murray (D., Wash.). The legislation would codify the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s regulatory authority over commercial fusion energy systems to streamline the creation of clear federal regulations that will support the development of commercial fusion power plants—and would require a report within one year on a study of risk- and performance-based, design-specific licensing frameworks for “mass-manufactured fusion machines.”

“Congress must do everything in its power to ensure continued U.S. leadership in developing commercial fusion energy facilities,” said Padilla as he introduced the bill. “The Fusion Energy Act would provide regulatory certainty for investors as the NRC develops and streamlines frameworks for such facilities.”

Zap Energy hits 37-million-degree electron temperatures in compact fusion device

April 25, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
A bright flash of light from a FuZE (Fusion Z-pinch Experiment) plasma. (Photo: Zap Energy)

Zap Energy announced April 23 that it has reached 1-3 keV plasma electron temperatures—roughly the equivalent of 11 to 37 million degrees Celsius—using its sheared-flow-stabilized Z-pinch approach to fusion. Reaching temperatures above that of the sun’s core (which is 10 million degrees Celsius temperature) is just one hurdle required before any fusion confinement concept can realistically pursue net gain and fusion energy.

U.S., Japan near end of HEU-to-LEU transition, plan expanded fusion partnership

April 17, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News
U.S. deputy secretary of energy David M. Turk (left) and Japan’s minister of education, sports, science, and technology Masahito Moriyama, in Washington, D.C. (Photo: DOE)

During a state visit to the White House by Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida on April 10, the Department of Energy announced that U.S. and Japanese agencies had cooperated to remove all high-enriched uranium (HEU) from the Japan Materials Testing Reactor Critical Assembly (JMTRC) of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) two years ahead of schedule.

The DOE is set on “building bridges” to a fusion energy future

December 20, 2023, 3:04PMNuclear News
A slide from the DOE-FES’s recent presentation to the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee. (Image: DOE)

The Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) in the Department of Energy’s Office of Science introduced a new plan—"Building Bridges: A Vision for the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences”—during a Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) hearing on December 13, and announced that news December 14. What’s included? A plan for the DOE to “establish the steps needed to help advance fusion energy, including addressing key science and technology gaps in the supply chain and industry.” The vision is less a guiding document than a preview of DOE-FES’s near-term intentions, which include drafting a fusion science and technology road map in 2024 to shape investments for the coming decade.

Three new inertial fusion energy hubs have distinct, laser-focused missions

December 14, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
STARFIRE is the name of an inertial fusion energy hub led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory—one of three hubs announced in early December. (Image: LLNL)

The Department of Energy recently announced that it was establishing three inertial fusion energy (IFE) hubs and funding them with a total of $42 million over four years. The leaders of the three hubs selected by competitive peer review—Colorado State University, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the University of Rochester—all issued press releases touting the attributes and plans of their facilities and their research collaborators on the same day—December 7.

Kerry shares U.S. plan for international fusion energy engagement on COP28 stage

December 7, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

John Kerry speaks on U.S. fusion energy policy. (Photo: Craig Piercy)

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has a new plan for international partnerships in fusion energy development that would build on over 60 years of collaborative fusion research and development to address the climate crisis and ensure energy security. The plan, first released December 2, was announced December 5 at COP28 in Dubai, UAE, by John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate. He delivered “a call to action” during an Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum. The plan follows on the administration’s Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy of March 2022, which recognized fusion energy’s increasing technical readiness and strong market interest—$6 billion to date.

“I'm pleased to announce the U.S. international engagement plan for fusion energy,” Kerry said. “This strategy identifies five areas of work that will help us to realize the promise of this technology, and they are R&D, supply chain and marketplace, regulation, workforce, and education and engagement.”

What’s happening in big fusion? A global update

December 5, 2023, 9:35AMNuclear News

One year ago today, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory achieved a record shot at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) that set the world talking about the potential of fusion energy. And the buzz hasn’t stopped. Fusion energy is getting its most significant attention yet on the world stage at COP28 in Dubai, UAE, where John Kerry, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, delivered a keynote address today titled “An inclusive fusion energy future,” followed by a panel discussion.

U.S. and U.K. agree to “strategic partnership” on fusion energy

November 13, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News



Two top energy officials—U.S. deputy secretary of energy David M. Turk and U.K. minister for nuclear and networks Andrew Bowie—met on November 8 in Washington, D.C., to talk about a “coordinated, strategic approach” to advance fusion energy demonstration and commercialization and “maximize value” for both nations.

Focused Energy partners with LLNL on inertial fusion energy targets

November 10, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Concept art showing inertial fusion ignition. (Image: Focused Energy)

Focused Energy and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have signed a strategic partnership project agreement that will allow LLNL—home of the National Ignition Facility (NIF)—to help the company develop and assess isochoric compression target designs for inertial fusion energy. Focused Energy announced the news on November 7.

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.