US invests $29m in fusion energy technologies

Fusion research aims to copy the process which powers the Sun for a new large-scale source of clean energy on Earth

The Big Zero report

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced an investment worth $29 million (£22m) to accelerate the development of fusion energy technologies.

A total of 14 projects will share the funding as part of the Galvanising Advances in Market-aligned fusion for an Overabundance of Watts (GAMOW) programme.

GAMOW teams will work towards closing fusion-specific technological gaps that will be needed to connect a “net energy gain fusion core” once it is ready, to a deployable, commercial fusion system.

Fusion research aims to copy the process which powers the Sun for a new large-scale source of clean energy on Earth.

The DOE says fusion energy development efforts have largely focused on achieving the required fuel density, temperature and energy confinement time required for a viable fusion energy system.

While recent investments have been made in the development of a viable fusion energy system, there remains a significant need to focus on the materials and enabling technologies needed to establish fusion energy’s technical and commercial viability once net energy gain is achieved.

The projects will address research and development categories including technologies, materials and superconducting magnet and fuel-cycle subsystems between the fusion plasma and balance of plant.

They will also explore areas such as novel fusion materials and advanced and additive manufacturing for fusion-relevant materials, components and their cost-effective scale-up.

The programme is jointly sponsored by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and the Office of Science-Fusion Energy Sciences (SC-FES).

ARPA-E Director Lane Genatowski said: “Fusion energy is a potentially game-changing clean energy source but it has faced scientific and technical challenges for decades.

“GAMOW teams will work to further develop enabling fusion materials and subsystem technologies, with a focus on the timely future commercialisation and deployment of fusion energy generation.”

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