Skip to main content

ORNL to lead three public-private fusion projects through INFUSE program


The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is leading three research collaborations with fusion industry partners through the Innovation Network for FUSion Energy, or INFUSE, program that will focus on resolving technical challenges and developing innovative solutions to make practical fusion energy a reality.  

The INFUSE program, established in 2019, promotes public-private research partnerships with the fusion industrial community and leverages the unique capabilities and world-class expertise of DOE’s national laboratories and U.S. universities to address barriers in advancing fusion energy technology.

“The INFUSE projects align with ORNL’s mission, in partnership with public and private fusion efforts worldwide, to establish the technical basis for the integration of burning plasma physics, next-generation materials, and technology applications essential to the design of a fusion pilot plant” said Phil Snyder, interim director of ORNL’s Fusion Energy Division. “These partnerships are invaluable in developing important capabilities that move fusion forward.”

This year’s awards provided $4.6 million in funding to 18 projects. ORNL is the lead partner institution on three of the projects:

  • Post Irradiation Examination of Nickel Doped Fusion Steels Irradiated in the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) – Tokamak Energy Inc. is partnering with Tim Graening, of ORNL’s Materials Science and Technology Division, to simulate the severe neutron damage of nickel-doped steel within a fusion reactor through irradiation in ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor. Researchers will be able to study the hardening, embrittlement, and swelling the materials will undergo during prolonged fusion neutron exposure and determine the best candidates for use in structural applications.
  • Evaluating Lithium-Lead Mixtures for Increased Tritium Breeding in Fusion Energy Blanket Systems: Exploring the Impact of Composition and Temperature – Kyoto Fusioneering America Ltd. is partnering with Bruce Pint, leader of the Corrosion Science and Technology Group in ORNL’s Materials Science and Technology Division, to investigate the use of liquid lithium-lead as a coolant in fusion blanket systems. The project aims to find the optimal lithium-lead mixture that balances corrosion rates, operating temperature, and better tritium breeding ratios for future blanket designs.
  • ORNL Portable Diagnostic Package for Evaluating Mirror Performance –Realta Fusion and Ted Biewer, leader of the Diagnostics and Control Group in ORNL’s Fusion Energy Division, are using the ORNL Portable Diagnostics Package to evaluate the Wisconsin High-temperature-superconducting Axisymmetric Mirror, a prototype for the endcell of a new class of magnetic mirror-based fusion reactor. The evaluation will help inform estimates of the cost and performance of both the power producing mirror and fusion volumetric neutron source.

The awards provide between $100,000 and $750,000 in funding to the partner laboratory or university for one- or two-year durations, with at least a 20% cost share required from the private company.   

“Interest in INFUSE is growing as the fusion industry grows,” said Arnold Lumsdaine, INFUSE program director. “It’s great to see the industry moving forward, and the depth and breadth of contributions from the public sector to move the nation towards the achievement of this grand challenge.”

The program is sponsored by the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences within DOE’s Office of Science and is managed by ORNL and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

The other projects from this year’s awards can be found on the INFUSE website.

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, please visit