The US Department of Energy (DOE) has approved $36.4m in funding for 37 research awards at universities, national laboratories, and private industry for fusion energy science research.


Image: The Sun is a natural fusion reactor, Photo: courtesy of NASA Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheres and Yohkoh Legacy data Archive/Wikipedia.

The research is designed to help lay the groundwork for the development of nuclear fusion as a future practical energy source.

The research focuses on high priority challenges in what is called “magnetic confinement” of plasma (a hot soup of ions and free electrons) on the pathway toward eventual development of a contained, self-sustaining fusion reaction.

Projects include:

Awards for collaborative fusion energy research using the DIII-D National Fusion Facility at General Atomics, a DOE Office of Science user facility in San Diego, California, and the largest tokamak (a donut-shaped “magnetic bottle”) in the United States. The tokamak is widely deemed an especially promising design for plasma confinement in a future fusion power plant.
Theoretical and experimental projects studying the physics of spherical tokamaks, a tokamak variant characterized by a compact (apple-like) shape, offering the promise of a more compact approach to plasma confinement.
Support of U.S. scientists for research at the Wendelstein 7-X superconducting stellarator in Greifswald, Germany—the world’s largest such facility, representing yet another method of plasma confinement by magnetic fields.
Computational work modeling plasma behavior through DOE’s Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program.
Researchers come from a dozen U.S. universities, four DOE National Laboratories (Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos, Princeton Plasma Physics, and Oak Ridge), and four private firms.

Projects were selected by competitive peer review under the following DOE Funding Opportunity Announcements sponsored by the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences within DOE’s Office of Science:

Collaborative Fusion Energy Research in the DIII-D National Program,
Collaborative Research on International and Domestic Spherical Tokamaks,
Collaborative Research in Magnetic Fusion Energy Sciences on Long-Pulse International Stellarator Facilities, and
Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing: Runaway Electron Avoidance and Mitigation in Tokamak Plasmas.

Source: Company Press Release