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DOE funds private-public partnerships focused on fusion energy technology

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced on September 3 awards for 10 projects with private industry that will allow for collaboration with DOE national laboratories in accelerating fusion energy development.

The awards are provided through the Innovation Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE) program, which was established in 2019. The program is sponsored by the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences within DOE’s Office of Science and is focused on driving cost-effective fusion energy technologies through private-public research partnerships.

“After the first year of INFUSE, it was clear that such a program could offer significant benefit to the fusion community,” said Dr. Chris Fall, Director of the DOE Office of Science. “This new round of funding offers a glimpse of the progress that private industry is making and how our national laboratories can play a critical role in maintaining that momentum.”

The funded projects will provide companies access to the leading expertise and facilities of DOE’s national laboratories to assist in addressing critical scientific and technological challenges in pursuing fusion energy systems. The program solicited proposals from fusion industry and selected projects for one- or two-year awards between $50,000 and $500,000 each, with a 20% cost share for industry partners.

The awards are subject to a successful negotiation of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between the companies and the partnering laboratories. 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.

“This year allowed us to consider proposals from companies with international stakeholders,” said Dennis Youchison, director of INFUSE and a fusion engineer at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “In being able to widen the impact of INFUSE, we are truly highlighting U.S. leadership in fusion energy and enabling advances around the world.”

The 10 selected projects include representation from six private companies. The projects will take advantage of INFUSE’s areas of focus: enabling fusion technologies, such as magnets and pellet fueling; materials, including structural and functional materials required for fusion devices; plasma and engineering diagnostics; modeling and simulation; and experimental capabilities, which utilize the facilities of national laboratory system to qualify materials or test engineering concepts.

The funded projects and companies include:

* Baselining a tritium accountancy and safety case for a molten salt liquid immersion fusion blanket (Commonwealth Fusion Systems)

* Development of phased-array HHFW antenna and load-resilient matching network for the C-2W FRC plasma device (TAE Technologies)

* Low temperature testing of new lower cost Magnum-NX HTS cable for fusion (Solid Material Solutions)

* Conceptual design of a tritium pellet injector for the ST40 spherical tokamak (Tokamak Energy Inc.)

* SPARC 3D field physics and support of the non-axisymmetric coil assessment (Commonwealth Fusion Systems)

* Advanced manufacturing workflows for tokamak internal components (Commonwealth Fusion Systems)

* Tungsten engineered feed stock for PFCs (Gamma Alloys, Inc.)

* Advanced stability analysis for magnetized target fusion (General Fusion Corp.)

* Investigating microstability characteristics of next step tokamaks across a range of aspect ratios (Tokamak Energy Inc.)

* Development of an RF antenna to start-up and sustain a fusion plasma in a spherical tokamak (Tokamak Energy Inc.)

Full abstracts for each project are available on the INFUSE website (https://infuse.ornl.gov/)

Read more: https://www.ornl.gov/news/department-energy-funds-private-public-partner...

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