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

U.S. Department of Energy Announces $17 Million for Research at Princeton Laboratory Fusion Facility
The initiative will support experiments, data analysis, and computer modeling and simulation of plasma behavior.
Department of Energy Announces $29 Million in Fusion Energy Technology Development
Funding for 14 projects as part of the Galvanizing Advances in Market-aligned fusion for an Overabundance of Watts program.
Department of Energy to Provide $21 Million for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Research on Fusion Energy
Today, DOE announced a plan to provide up to $21 million to support research in artificial intelligence and machine learning for fusion energy.
Department of Energy Announces $13.3 Million for Plasma Research
Research to Expand Understanding of the Fourth State of Matter
Department of Energy Announces $21 Million for Fusion Energy Instrumentation
Effort to Support Major Fusion Facility at DOE Princeton Laboratory
Department of Energy Announces $12 Million for Research on Quantum Information Science for Fusion Energy
DOE announced a plan to provide $12 million for research in Quantum Information Science (QIS) for fusion energy and plasma science.
Department of Energy Announces $10 Million for Plasma Science Research
Research Will Take Place at Several Plasma Facilities across the Nation
Department of Energy Announces $3 Million for Fusion Diagnostics
Aim Is to Improve Methods of Measuring and Monitoring Hot Plasmas
Department of Energy to Provide $50 Million for Fusion Energy and Plasma Science Research
The U.S. Department of Energy announced it will provide $50 million for private and public research efforts in fusion energy and plasma science.

FES Science Highlights

An Innovation for Fusion Device Walls May Have Unexpected Benefits for the Core
September 4, 2020
A technique that suppresses damaging instabilities also improves the exhaust of helium ‘ash’ in the DIII-D tokamak, improving conditions for fusion.
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AI Helps Scientists Quantify Irradiation Effects
September 2, 2020
Novel Convolutional Neural Network combined with advanced microscopy offers a path to automated and reliable radiation defect analysis.
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Controlling Light to Accelerate Electrons in Just Meters
August 18, 2020
A novel paradigm for pushing energy in a particle accelerator method could dramatically shrink future accelerators.
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Lab-Created Shock Waves Mimic Supernova Particle Accelerators
July 31, 2020
New laser-driven experiments and numerical simulations reveal an electron acceleration mechanism relevant to young supernova shock waves.
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Scientists Solve Key Challenge for Controlling “Runaway” Electrons in Fusion Plasmas
July 15, 2020
Discovery could help control potentially damaging bursts during plasma disruptions, another step toward fusion power production.
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Moving on Up, to the Top for Fusion Power
April 14, 2020
New approach doubles the current driven by microwave heating at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility.
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Parker Spiral Created in the Laboratory for the First Time Ever
March 27, 2020
Scientists created the Parker spiral – the spiral magnetic field structure of the Sun due to its rotation – in the lab.
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Magnetic Ripples Calm the Surface of Fusion Plasmas
March 18, 2020
3D magnetic fields can help control the plasma edge to prevent damaging bursts of heat and particles from fusion plasma.
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Island Retreat: Pellets Help Remove Magnetic Island Instabilities
March 18, 2020
Injecting pellets into fusion plasma helps repair tears in fusion reactors’ magnetic fields, improving prospects for fusion energy.
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Climbing the Staircase to Fusion
February 5, 2020
Forming a staircase in the edge of the plasmas can boost the performance of a fusion reactor.
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FES Program News

Steering Fusion’s “D-turn”
Research scientist Alessandro Marinoni shows that reversing traditional plasma shaping provides greater stability for fusion reactions.
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A Bumper Crop of Undergraduate Students Attends Annual Plasma Workshop Kicking Off Summer Internship Programs
PPPL hosted its largest group of undergraduate students ever for the annual undergraduate plasma workshop June 10 to 14.
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Recent Breakthrough on DIII-D Enables Major Step Toward Economical Fusion Energy
“Super H Mode” experiments demonstrate record fusion performance.
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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