US DOE Announces $42Million for Fusion Research

New program will build on recent advances in inertial fusion energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced a new US$42Million program to focus on inertial fusion energy (IFE). The program, which has been dubbed IFE Science Technology Accelerated Research or IFE-STAR, will support multi-disciplinary research at 34 institutions grouped into three topic-focused hubs. Hubs will be led by Colorado State University (Inertial Fusion Science and Technology hub), the University of Rochester (Laser-Plasma Interaction Research), and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories (Fusion Innovation and Reactor Engineering).

The new program comes on the heels of the recent announcement that scientists at Lawrence Livermore have achieved fusion ignition, the point at which output energy exceeds input energy and a fusion reaction becomes self-sustaining. According to the press release, “Inertial confinement fusion is a leading approach to fusion that uses lasers or other technologies to compress and heat high-density plasmas. IFE-STAR projects will develop high-gain target designs; high-efficiency lasers at high repetition rates; and IFE-relevant fusion target manufacturing, tracking, and engagement. A major component of the funded projects is stewardship of the inertial fusion ecosystem, including the development of an inclusive and diverse workforce.”

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm adds, “Harnessing fusion energy is one of the greatest scientific and technological challenges of the 21st Century. We now have the confidence that it’s not only possible, but probable, that fusion energy can be a reality. The scientists in these hubs will be the vanguard of game-changing and planet-saving breakthroughs.”