Projects address high-priority science and technology gaps in the advanced tokamak path to fusion energy

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $16 million in funding for nine projects that are focused on advancing innovative fusion technology and collaborative research on small-scale experiments and on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, an Office of Science scientific user facility. The projects will be executed under 16 awards at 13 institutions across the nation.

Technology projects will develop new systems on DIII-D, a facility operated by General Atomics in San Diego, CA, and at collaborating institutions with plans to install the systems on DIII-D once prototypes have been demonstrated and characterized. Collaborative research aims at using existing world-leading capabilities of the DIII-D facility to establish the scientific foundation needed to develop a fusion energy source. A key objective is to enable the U.S. to aim at a fusion pilot plant based on the tokamak concept.

The projects will assess and improve the technical maturity of plasma actuators; provide tools and algorithms, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, that can sustain high fusion performance and avoid disruptive plasma instabilities; resolve key plasma transport issues in regimes relevant for fusion power plants; improve access to burning plasma regimes; and optimize the fusion reaction process itself in order to relax the field and confinement requirements for a fusion pilot plant.

“While establishing the scientific basis for fusion energy, we must also improve the maturity of existing fusion technologies and explore entirely new innovations that have the potential to revolutionize the fusion landscape,” said Jean Paul Allain, DOE Associate Director of the Office of Science for Fusion Energy Sciences. “The extensive capabilities at DIII-D make it the ideal facility to pursue areas of great potential that are not sufficiently mature for adoption by the private sector.”

These activities will significantly enhance the research ecosystem centered around the DIII-D facility. As a user facility, DIII-D not only addresses critical issues for pulsed and steady-state tokamak concepts for fusion energy, but it also provides a key national capability for addressing a broad set of research in fusion technology (e.g., diagnostics, actuators, and materials) and in general plasma and nuclear science.

The projects were selected by competitive peer review under the DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement for Innovative Fusion Technology and Collaborative Fusion Energy Research in the DIII-D National Program (DE-FOA-0002904) and the FY 2023 Continuation of Solicitation for the Office of Science Financial Assistance Program (DE-FOA-0002844).

Total funding is $16 million for projects lasting up to three years in duration, with $8.2 million in Fiscal Year 2023 dollars and outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations. The list of projects and more information can be found on the Fusion Energy Sciences program homepage.

Selection for award negotiations is not a commitment by DOE to issue an award or provide funding. Before funding is issued, DOE and the applicants will undergo a negotiation process, and DOE may cancel negotiations and rescind the selection for any reason during that time.