US Department of Energy awards $50 million for working fusion device • The Register
The US Department of Energy has announced plans to allocate up to $50 million in funding to private companies to develop a working fusion pilot plant (FPP) by 2030.
Nuclear fusion power generates abundant energy during operation with no CO2 emissions. According to DoE Assistant Secretary David Turk and everyone in their right minds, the development of fusion power will be key to energy abundance and security around the world.
“Fusion promises to be an on-demand, secure and abundant source of carbon-free primary energy and electricity with the potential to transform the way we generate and use energy,” Turk said said.
Turk added that the private sector has invested nearly $5 billion in fusion projects. With the DoE’s $50 million (no typo) set aside to support for-profit entities, it’s likely that some of the funds will go into the hands of organizations that have already done some work to build working fusion facilities. China, on the other hand, is Drink our milkshake.
Companies that want to bid for some of the $50 million merger funding [PDF] can submit proposals for projects that will lead to the drafting of a viable FPP sometime this decade. The overall goal is to have a working reactor by the early 2030s. Just getting it working is one thing, there must also be plans to improve the fusion performance of the proposed systems to make them operational at a practical level by the late 2030s.
Are the DoE’s merger dreams plausible?
The DoE plans to award funds over a maximum period of five years, with this period being contingent only on award winners meeting early milestones, which they must define themselves in their offerings.
The DoE will consider a viable FPP to be one that “can demonstrate a significant amount of net fusion power for three or more uninterrupted hours…at a total capital cost that can attract private funding.” The DoE defines significant power generation in excess of 50 MWe – a very ambitious target considering what state-of-the-art fusion experiments are currently capable of.
Earlier this monthScientists in South Korea managed to sustain a plasma gas reaction at 100 million Kelvin for 20 seconds without instabilities – a major breakthrough for nuclear fusion, but nowhere near 50 MWe of electricity or three hours of continuous operation.
In January of this year, researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California did the same Advances toward fusion power with a series of experiments that generated more than 100 kilojoules of energy. While that’s definitely a step forward, it still only equates to about 28 watt-hours of electricity — not even enough to meaningfully light an average incandescent light bulb. ®
https://www.theregister.com/2022/09/29/fusion_program_doe/ US Department of Energy awards $50 million for working fusion device • The Register