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ORNL to be involved in multiple DOE-funded commercial fusion energy development projects

The Fuel Pellet Fueling Laboratory at ORNL is part of a suite of fusion energy R&D capabilities and provides test equipment and related diagnostics for carrying out experiments to develop pellet injectors for plasma fueling applications. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory will team up with six of eight companies that are advancing designs and research and development for fusion power plants with the mission to achieve a pilot-scale demonstration of fusion within a decade.

Rising energy demands and the need for zero-carbon generation is driving research on fusion energy production to provide an abundant, inherently safe, non-carbon-emitting energy source for the planet.

“The start of this program represents an exciting step forward for fusion research in the U.S.,” said Phil Snyder, interim director of ORNL’s Fusion Energy Division in the Fusion and Fission Energy and Science Directorate. “ORNL has a key role to play here — both directly in DOE’s Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program, and indirectly by building up the scientific and technical foundation that fusion energy development depends upon.”

DOE announced $46 million in awards on May 31 and shared the news via video stream. The following Milestone-Based Fusion Development awards associated with ORNL include:

  • Commonwealth Fusion Systems - Commercial fusion power on a decadal timescale with the compact, high-field ARC power plant
  • Princeton Stellarators Inc. - Stellarator fusion pilot plant enabled by array of planar shaping coils
  • Realta Fusion Inc. - The high-field axisymmetric mirror on a faster path to fusion energy
  • Tokamak Energy Inc. - ST-E1 preliminary design review for a fusion pilot plant
  • Type One Energy Group - The high-field stellarator path to commercial fusion energy
  • Xcimer Energy, Inc. - IFE pilot plant with a low-cost, high-energy excimer driver and the HYLIFE concept

Focused Energy, Inc. and Zap Energy Inc. also received funding awards.

The Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program boosts the efforts of the eight commercial awardees to resolve, within five to 10 years, scientific and technological challenges to create designs for a fusion pilot plant that will help bring fusion to both technical and commercial viability. The awards announcement follows a March 2022 White House Summit on Developing a Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy, held to accelerate fusion energy development and enable public-private partnerships.

The funding amounts for individual awards are not yet public, pending a standard award negotiations and revision process.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information visit