Fusion Energy Sciences

The Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) program has two goals: (1) expand the understanding of matter at very high temperatures and densities, and (2) build the knowledge needed to develop a fusion energy source. Providing energy from fusion is one of the 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century and FES is the largest federal government supporter of research that is addressing the remaining obstacles to overcoming this challenge.

Plasmas are very hot gases, so hot that electrons have been freed from atomic nuclei, forming a collection of ions and electrons that can be controlled by electric and magnetic fields. The known universe consists of over 99% plasma, which form stars such as the sun. Scientist study plasmas in space, like star explosions, to better understand plasma physics. Scientist also study plasmas that occur on Earth, like lightning. There are also plasmas that are manufactured and are seen everywhere, like light bulbs and a store’s neon sign. There are plasmas that have practical applications, such as advanced medical and sanitation procedures. However, there are challenges in creating and sustaining plasmas on Earth.  

The sun produces light and energy that everyone can see and feel. It does this by a process called fusion. Fusion occurs in a plasma where two nuclei are combined to form a new atom. This occurs many times in the sun generating an enormous amount of energy. Scientist now want to recreate the process here on Earth and collect the energy to make electricity. The promise and potential benefits to humankind from this carbon-free energy source are enormous. Achieving this goal would have far-reaching and significant effects on human civilization and its impact on the planet. 

Together with its partner science agencies, FES supports a devoted workforce that has made impressive progress since the first fusion experiments over sixty years ago. Progress is made each day by scientists and engineers at DOE national laboratories, universities, and in private industry. With public financial support for this fundamental research, fusion scientists are undertaking fundamental tests of fusion energy’s viability using some of the most ambitious energy projects, the most powerful supercomputers, and the fastest networks in the world today.

Learn more about the Fusion Energy Sciences Program here.

Video

DIII-D National Fusion Facility 11-month Engineering Upgrade

FES Program Announcements

Announcement of FES Long-Range-Strategic Planning Activity
Office of Science asks FESAC to undertake new long-range strategic planning activity.
Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine highlights remaining challenges for fusion as an energy source.
Department of Energy to Provide $30 Million for Fusion Research on International Facilities
Research to take advantage of capabilities available abroad.

FES Science Highlights

Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning Accelerate Efforts to Develop Clean, Virtually Limitless Fusion Energy
April 22, 2019
Nuclear fusion power delivered by magnetic confinement tokamak reactors carries the promise of sustainable and clean energy for the future.
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Capturing Energy Flow in a Plasma by Measuring Scattered Light
April 18, 2019
In diverse fields of plasma physics including astrophysics, inertial confinement fusion, and magnetohydrodynamics, classical thermal transport (for
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Steady as She Goes
February 19, 2019
Fusion reactors need to run in a steady state and must reduce or eliminate ELMs, intense bursts of heat and particles that collide with the walls
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Silicon and a State of Shock
February 19, 2019
In addition to being a key material in the semi-conductor industry, and one of the most studied materials at high pressure, silicon as a ceramic
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Not All Ions in Tokamaks Go with the Flow
February 19, 2019
Scientists from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory working on the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, in cooperation with scientists at General
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New Model Sheds Light on Key Physics of Magnetic Islands that Can Halt Fusion Reactions
February 17, 2019
Magnetic islands can grow and thereby degrade and potentially disrupt the plasma confinement and damage the doughnut-shaped tokamak facilities that
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High-Energy X-Ray Bursts from Low-Energy Plasma
February 17, 2019
Scientists observed a burst of X-rays from a laboratory plasma jet. This burst was unexpected because the plasma jet was relatively cold and thus
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The Biermann Battery Effect: Spontaneous Generation of Magnetic Fields and Their Severing
December 6, 2018
Magnetic reconnection occurs when oppositely directed magnetic fields are forced together in plasmas, which are excellent electrical conductors. A
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Drawn into a Whirlpool: A New Way to Stop Dangerous Fast Electrons in a Fusion Device
December 6, 2018
Just like when pushing a playground swing, energy is only transferred from the electron beam to the whistler wave when the “pushing”
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Discovered: Optimal Magnetic Fields Suppress Instabilities in Tokamak Plasmas
September 11, 2018
An important step for simplifying the complex production of 3-D fields in a tokamak is to build a matrix that relates the external 3-D magnetic
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FES Program News

Machine Ready to See if Magic Metal – Lithium – Can Help Bring the Fusion that Lights the Stars to Earth
At DOE's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), researchers have completed a three-year upgrade of the Lithium Tokamak Experiment.
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In the Quest for Clean, Limitless Energy Through Nuclear Fusion, Scientists Use ‘Deep Learning’ AI to Predict Destructive Disruptions
In a new study published in Nature and led by the U.S. DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), Kates-Harbeck and his colleagues created a “d
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Physicists Improve Understanding of Heat and Particle Flow in the Edge of a Fusion Device
Physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have discovered valuable information about how electrically charged gas known as “plasma” flows at the edge inside doughnut-shaped fusion devices called “tokamaks.” The findings mark an encouraging sign for the development of machines to produce fusion energy for generating electricity without creating long-term hazardous waste.
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Contact Information

Fusion Energy Sciences
U.S. Department of Energy
SC-24/Germantown Building
1000 Independence Avenue., SW
Washington, DC 20585
P: (301) 903 - 4941
F: (301) 903 - 8584
E: Email Us