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Department of Energy announces private-public awards to advance fusion energy technology

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 15, 2019—The U.S. Department of Energy announced funding for 12 projects with private industry to enable collaboration with DOE national laboratories on overcoming challenges in fusion energy development.

The awards are the first provided through the Innovation Network for Fusion Energy program, or INFUSE. The program, which was established earlier this year, is sponsored by the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences within DOE’s Office of Science and is focused on accelerating fusion energy development through private-public research partnerships.

“We believe the private sector has important contributions to make in the quest for fusion energy,” said James Van Dam, DOE Associate Director of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences.  “This program is an excellent way to leverage the assets of both the private and public sectors in the effort to advance fusion energy science and technology.”

The funded projects will provide companies with access to the expertise and facilities of DOE’s national laboratories to overcome critical scientific and technological hurdles in pursuing fusion energy systems. The program solicited proposals from U.S. fusion industry and selected projects for awards between $50,000 and $200,000 each, with a 20 percent cost share for industry partners. The awards are subject to a successful negotiation of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, between the companies and the partnering laboratories.

“There was an enthusiastic response by private industry to INFUSE in 2019,” said Dennis Youchison, director of INFUSE and a fusion engineer at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “We hope to broaden and enhance the program significantly in 2020.”

The 12 selected projects include representation from six private companies partnering with six national laboratories. The projects fall within INFUSE’s general areas of focus for developing fusion technologies, such as new and improved magnets; materials science, including engineered materials, testing and qualification; plasma diagnostic development; modeling and simulation; and magnetic fusion experimental capabilities.

"We are very excited to announce the INFUSE pilot program and thank the industries for submitting very interesting proposals,” said Ahmed Diallo, INFUSE deputy director at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. “We look forward to having productive work with the lab partners."

The following list includes the title of each funded project, the awarded company and the national laboratory partner. The program does not provide funding directly to the private companies, but instead provides support to the partnering DOE laboratories to enable them to collaborate with their industrial partners.  

  • Development of a modeling toolbox for CORC® cable performance evaluation, Advanced Conductor Technologies and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Superconducting cable quench detection, Commonwealth Fusion Systems and Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • Divertor component testing, Commonwealth Fusion Systems and Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Divertor plasma simulations, Commonwealth Fusion Systems and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Alpha particle diagnostics simulation, Commonwealth Fusion Systems and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
  • Development of a high-current solid-state switch for magneto-inertial fusion, HelicitySpace and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
  • Simulation of plectoneme formation, HelicitySpace and Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • 3D MHD simulations support for PJMIF, Hyperjet Fusion Corp. and Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Request for assistance in developing x-ray diagnostics to quantify properties of tightly focused electron beam at compact pulse power generator Thunderbird, Proton Scientific Technologies, Inc., and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Simulations of global stability in the C-2W device, TAE Technologies, Inc., and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
  • Doppler-free saturation spectroscopy for magnetic and electric field measurements in an FRC plasma, TAE Technologies, Inc., and Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Developing high harmonic fast wave as an enabling electron heating actuator for an FRC plasma, TAE Technologies, Inc., and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Full abstracts for each project are available on the INFUSE website.

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