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Fusion energy technology gets DOE funding

Federal program to spur fusion energy research, development Metal Tech News - May 10, 2023

Forever scribed in the annals of scientific achievement, the U.S. Inertial Confinement Fusion program supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration has produced not one but two significant breakthroughs – the burning of plasma with a yield of 1.3 megajoules, then the legendary breakeven for nuclear fusion. With these results, the Department of Energy has announced a $45 million grant to continue this potentially utopia-creating work.

"The exciting results from NIF (National Ignition Facility) proved the scientific feasibility of inertial fusion," said Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, director of DOE's Office of Science. "We look forward to solving the remaining scientific and technical challenges of inertial fusion as we make it a feasible part of the U.S. fusion portfolio."

You can read about the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility's back-to-back breakthroughs in Nuclear fusion breakthrough confirmed and A historic day for clean fusion energy in the August 17, 2022 and December 14, 2022, respectively, editions of Metal Tech News.

Nuclear fusion is the process that powers the Sun and other stars. Heavy hydrogen atoms collide with enough force to fuse together to form a helium atom, releasing enormous amounts of energy as a byproduct.

Ideally, once the hydrogen plasma "ignites," the fusion reaction becomes self-sustaining, with the fusions themselves producing enough power to maintain their temperature without external heating.

While relatively less complex than creating a "micro-sun," inertial confinement fusion is a different process that initiates fusion reactions by compressing and heating targets filled with fuel, typically small pellets or capsules containing deuterium and tritium.

After two achievements that have ultimately proved the possibility of a successful future fusion reactor, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announced a plan to provide up to $45 million to support fusion research and development.

"This is a landmark achievement for the researchers and staff at the National Ignition Facility who have dedicated their careers to seeing fusion ignition become a reality, and this milestone will undoubtedly spark even more discovery," the energy secretary said during the historic fusion ignition in December 2022.

Due to the potential of this technology, DOE's Office of Science is implementing the Inertial Fusion Energy program to advance science and technology research areas outlined in the recent IFE Basic Research Needs Workshop Report.

For now, total planned funding is up to $9 million for 2023 for projects lasting up to four years.


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