Tokamak Energy builds super magnets for fusion plant testing

February 7, 2023, 9:55AMNuclear News
Tokamak Energy's high-temperature superconducting (HTS) tape is used in its HTS magnets. (Photo: Tokamak Energy)

Tokamak Energy announced on February 6 that it has built a world-first set of high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets, to be assembled and tested in fusion power plant–relevant scenarios.

First Light Fusion wants to operate a net gain inertial fusion machine in 2027

January 27, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Nicholas Hawker of First Light Fusion and Ian Chapman of UKAEA. (Photo: UKAEA)

Ignition and net gain at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) in December 2022 focused global attention on the prospects of inertial fusion energy (IFE). First Light Fusion and the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) acknowledged the achievement as they announced plans on January 25 to design and build a demonstration facility known as Machine 4 at UKAEA’s Culham Campus in Oxford, U.K., using First Light’s “projectile approach” to IFE. Construction is expected to begin in 2024, and operations are “likely to commence” in 2027.

From “never” to now: NIF through the lens of 60 Minutes

January 23, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
NIF in winter (Photo: LLNL)

“Star Power” is the name 60 Minutes producers gave their interpretation of the recent experiment at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) that achieved fusion ignition and net gain. Views from inside Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory captured by TV cameras and aired Sunday, January 15—of some of NIF’s 192 lasers, banks of capacitors, target assembly labs, and even the remains of the target assembly blasted in the December 5 breakthrough—are well worth the watch for those of us who are unlikely to visit the site in person.

DOE awards cost-shared fusion energy research funds to seven companies

January 19, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science announced $2.3 million in funding on January 17 for 10 fusion energy projects that will allow private companies to work with national laboratories to address specific challenges in fusion energy development. Seven private companies and seven national laboratories are represented in the 10 projects selected for funding, provided through the INFUSE (Innovation Network for Fusion Energy) program. The second-round fiscal year 2022 awards follow a first round of 18 project awards announced in July 2022.

General Fusion demo plant construction will begin this summer

January 16, 2023, 7:02AMNuclear News
A rendering of the planned demo plant. (Image: General Fusion)

The U.K. Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) announced on January 12 that the South Oxfordshire District Council Planning Committee approved a planned fusion energy demonstration project at UKAEA’s Culham Campus. UKAEA and General Fusion, the magnetized target fusion company that designed the demo plant, announced that same day that construction will begin this summer, with commissioning planned for 2026 and full operations by early 2027.

Forward fusion: Building a nuclear future in Wisconsin

January 13, 2023, 3:27PMNuclear NewsTim Gregoire
SHINE’s isotope production building, called the Chrysalis, under construction in October 2022.

In a former farm field just outside the historic town of Janesville in south-central Wisconsin, a large concrete-and-steel building is taking shape. Dubbed the Chrysalis, the building will eventually house eight accelerator-based neutron generators, which start-up company SHINE Technologies will use to produce molybdenum-99. As the precursor to the medical radioisotope technetium-99m, Mo-99 is used in tens of millions of diagnostic procedures every year, primarily as a radioactive tracer.

At the heart of the Chrysalis will be the high-flux neutron generators, being supplied by SHINE’s sister company, Phoenix. The compact accelerators use a deuterium-tritium fusion process to produce neutrons, which in turn induce a subcritical fission reaction in an aqueous low-enriched uranium target (19.75 percent uranium-235) to produce Mo-99.

ITER leaders outline plan for component repairs and replacements

January 11, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The cooling pipes that snake along the surface of the vacuum vessel thermal shield will be removed and replaced. Here, on a right-hand outboard panel, workers determine the impact of pipe removal on the surface of the component. (Photo: ITER Organization)

ITER’s machine assembly phase began about two and a half years ago. Now, staff are reversing some of that assembly work to make needed repairs. According to a news article published by the ITER Organization on January 9, ITER is “facing challenges common to every industrial venture involving first-of-a-kind components.” Over one year after problems were first detected and less than two months after they were made public in late November, tests and analysis are producing a clearer picture of necessary repairs to the tokamak’s thermal shield panels and vacuum vessel sectors.

“There is no scandal here,” said ITER director general Pietro Barabaschi. “Such things happen. I've seen many issues of the kind, and much worse.”

Current and former LLNL staffers plan for inertial fusion energy after record shot

December 20, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
A color-enhanced image of the inside of a NIF preamplifier support structure. (Image: LLNL/Damien Jemison)

On December 5, researchers at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory achieved fusion energy breakeven. It was a gain for stockpile stewardship that also—as headlines gushed prior to the Department of Energy’s December 13 announcement—boosted the prospects of inertial fusion energy (IFE). The timing of the landmark achievement may have been especially welcome to private fusion companies with inertial or hybrid magneto-inertial confinement concepts, because it occurred as the DOE was getting ready to consider applications for $50 million in funding for fusion pilot plant design work.

Breakeven breakthrough at the National Ignition Facility

December 13, 2022, 3:02PMNuclear News
The target chamber of LLNL’s NIF, where 192 laser beams delivered more than 2 million joules of ultraviolet energy to a tiny fuel pellet to create fusion ignition on December 5, 2022.

It’s official: Early in the morning on December 5 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF), the laser-triggered implosion of a meticulously engineered capsule of deuterium and tritium about the size of a peppercorn yielded, for the first time on Earth, more energy from a fusion reaction than was delivered to the capsule. The input of 2.05 megajoules (MJ) to the target heated the diamond-shelled, spherical capsule to over 3 million degrees Celsius and yielded 3.15 MJ of fusion energy output. The achievement was announced earlier today by officials and scientists representing the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration, the White House, and LLNL during a livestreamed event.

The American Nuclear Society welcomes fusion ignition milestone

December 13, 2022, 2:00PMPress Releases

LA GRANGE PARK, Illinois – American Nuclear Society (ANS) President Steven Arndt and ANS CEO and Executive Director Craig Piercy issued the following statement:

"The American Nuclear Society and the Fusion Energy Division of the American Nuclear Society congratulate the National Ignition Facility (NIF) team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for their achievement in reaching the scientific energy breakeven milestone for fusion ignition.

Stress corrosion cracking and welding nonconformities are behind ITER’s fresh delays

December 5, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
A total of about 23 kilometers (about 14 miles) of piping are welded to the surface of the thermal shield panels. The piping on a vacuum vessel thermal shield panel is clearly visible in this photo. (Photo: ITER Organization)

The ITER Organization is working on a new baseline schedule for the magnetic confinement fusion experiment launched in 1985 and now under construction in southern France. First plasma was scheduled for December 2025 and deuterium-tritium operations for 2035 under a schedule approved in November 2016 that will soon be shelved. In addition to impacts from COVID-19 delays and uncertainty resulting from Russia’s war in Ukraine, ITER leaders must now factor in repair time for “component challenges.”

Fusion energy radwaste management considerations

December 2, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear NewsLaila El-Guebaly

The question of what to do with the radioactive waste has been raised frequently for both fission and fusion. In the 1970s, fusion adopted the land-based disposal option, primarily based on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision to regulate all radioactive wastes as only a disposal issue, following the fission guidelines. In the early 2000s, members of the Advanced Research Innovation and Evaluation Study (ARIES) national team became increasingly aware of the high amount of mildly radioactive materials that 1-GWe fusion power plants will generate, compared with the current line of fission reactors. The main concern is that such a sizable inventory of mostly tritiated radioactive materials would tend to rapidly fill U.S. repositories—a serious issue that was overlooked in early fusion studies1 that could influence the public acceptability of fusion energy and will certainly become more significant in the immediate future if left unaddressed, as fusion moves toward commercialization.

Fortune article summarizes nuclear fusion developments

November 30, 2022, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The JET tokamak. (Photo: European Consortium for the Development)

Nuclear fusion “might actually be on the cusp of commercial viability” today, says a recent article in Fortune magazine. The article offers a brief review of recent technical and entrepreneurial developments in fusion energy. It also places these developments in perspective regarding the hurdles that remain before commercialization can be realized.

General Fusion marshals CNL support for Canadian fusion power by 2030

November 17, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
This still image, taken from a General Fusion video, depicts the demo plant that will be built near Oxford, U.K. (Image: General Fusion)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and General Fusion have announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to “develop fusion energy research capabilities within CNL, to support the goal of constructing a potential General Fusion commercial power plant in Canada before 2030.” The plant would follow on a demonstration-scale plant that General Fusion wants to have operating in the United Kingdom by 2027 to validate the performance and economics of the technology.

Fusion is prioritized in net-zero R&D initiative and IRA funds, but fission factors in too

November 10, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The U.S. ITER Project Office in Oak Ridge, Tenn. U.S. ITER has received $256 million in Inflation Reduction Act funding. (Photo: U.S. ITER)

Just days before COP27 and the U.S. midterm elections, the White House announced $1.55 billion in Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funding for national laboratories and the launch of a Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative based on a new report, U.S. Innovation to Meet 2050 Climate Goals. Out of 37 research and development opportunities identified, fusion energy was selected as one of just five near-term priorities for the new cross-agency initiative. Together, the announcements signal policy and infrastructure support for fusion energy—the biggest chunk of Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC) IRA funding went to ITER, via Oak Ridge National Laboratory—and for advanced nuclear technologies to power the grid and provide process heat to hard-to-decarbonize industrial sectors.

Tokamak Energy bets its spherical design will deliver fusion energy in the early 2030s

October 27, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Tokamak Energy’s ST40, which achieved plasma temperatures of 100 million °C earlier this year. (Photo: Tokamak Energy)

Tokamak Energy on October 26 announced plans to construct a high field spherical tokamak using high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets. Dubbed the ST80-HTS, the machine would demonstrate multiple technologies required to achieve commercial fusion energy, the company says. Tokamak Energy plans to complete the ST80-HTS in 2026 to demonstrate spherical tokamak operations and inform the design of its successor, a fusion pilot plant called ST-E1 that the company says could deliver electricity into the grid in the early 2030s and produce up to 200 MWe.

Temperature milestone: Earlier this year, the company’s ST40 spherical tokamak reached the commercial fusion energy plasma temperature threshold of 100 million °C with what was reported as the highest triple product (an industry measure of plasma density, temperature, and confinement) of any private fusion energy company. The ST40 achieved those results with a plasma volume of less than one cubic meter, which is 15 times less volume than any other tokamak that has achieved the same threshold.

General Atomics unveils a fusion pilot plant concept

October 24, 2022, 3:07PMNuclear News
A rendering of the GA fusion pilot plant. (Image: GA)

General Atomics (GA) announced on October 20 that it has developed a steady-state, compact advanced tokamak fusion pilot plant concept “where the fusion plasma is maintained for long periods of time to maximize efficiency, reduce maintenance costs, and increase the lifetime of the facility.”

U.K. picks a coal power station for its fusion pilot, but still needs a design

October 11, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production, shown here in an artist's rendition, is a government-backed prototype fusion energy plant planned for operation in the U.K. in the early 2040s. (Image: UKAEA)

The U.K. Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and Tokamak Energy announced on October 10 that they signed a framework agreement to collaborate on developing spherical tokamaks for power production. This news is a complement to last week’s announcement from the U.K. government that the West Burton A coal-fired power plant site in Nottinghamshire has been selected as the future home of STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production), the U.K.’s planned prototype fusion energy plant. The government is providing £220 million (about $250 million) of funding for the first phase of STEP, which will see the UKAEA produce a concept design by 2024.

U.S. fusion pilot program ready to back designs from industry-led teams

September 27, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
(Image: Ana Kova /

The Department of Energy announced up to $50 million for a new milestone-based fusion energy development program on September 22. The funding opportunity announcement is open to for-profit companies—possibly teamed with national laboratories, universities, and others—that are prepared to meet major technical and commercialization milestones leading to a pilot fusion power plant design.

Fusion veteran Barabaschi selected as ITER director general

September 23, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Capping a session in Paris, the ITER Council has unanimously selected Pietro Barabaschi as the new director-general of the ITER Organization. The Italian-born Barabaschi, who has been involved in nuclear fusion research for some 30 years, was chosen to lead the massive international fusion project following an intensive recruitment effort necessitated by the death of Bernard Bigot, the previous director general, in May. Since Bigot’s death, Eisuke Tada has been serving in the role in an interim capacity. Barabaschi will take office in October.

F4E leader: Barabaschi has been the head of the Broader Approach Programme and Delivery with Fusion for Energy (F4E) since 2008. F4E is the EU organization responsible for Europe’s contribution to ITER. In this position, he has been managing the department that oversees three projects stemming from the Broader Approach agreement between the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the government of Japan: the JT-60SA tokamak, the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility/Engineering Validation and Engineering Design Activities linear accelerator, and the International Fusion Energy Research Centre . Barabaschi has also been acting director of F4E.