Thu. Aug 22nd, 2019

Projects aimed at making Steady-State Fusion Power Plants Possible

United States Department of Energy

An announcement was made today by the United States Department of Energy that they will be funding $14 million for 10 university-led research projects using the DIII-D National Fusion Facility.  The Development of methods of sustaining the steady-state or constant operation of fusion reactors is the top goal of the research, a key step toward ultimately making nuclear fusion a practical energy source.

The Under Secretary for Science, Paul Dabbar stated that the Fusion is still one of the most promising potential sources of energy for the world. He added that this research is aimed at achieving steady-state operation of fusion reactors which will be a significant milestone on the road to sustainable energy from fusion.

The main focus of the research is the high-priority challenges in “magnetic confinement” of plasma (which is a hot mixture of free electrons and ions) on the pathway toward ultimate development of a self-sustaining, contained fusion reaction. On the largest magnetically confined plasma facility in the US; the DIII-D tokamak, the research will be performed. DIII-D is operated by General Atomics in San Diego under a DOE Office of Science user facility.

From creation of novel means of controlling plasma instabilities, Projects range to enhancing diagnostics, to advancing the understanding of the material erosion which takes place inside fusion reactors.

The selection of the projects was done by competitive peer review under the DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement; Collaborative Fusion Energy Research in The DIII-D National Program. The selection was sponsored by the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences within DOE’s Office of Science.  6.7 million is the total funding of the Fiscal Year 2019 for projects which would last up to 3 years in duration, with out-year funding reliant on the congressional appropriations.