DOE Unites Fusion Research Trailblazers with $42M Injection

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has unveiled a $42 million initiative to establish three research hub at the University of Rochester (UR), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and Colorado State University (CSU)   to address critical work in fusion energy. The effort stems from the Inertial Fusion Energy Science and Technology Accelerated Research (IFE-STAR) program, which the DOE announced in May.

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. Supported by the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES), this project will establish the foundational science and technology for a broad range of laser-based inertial fusion approaches, cement partnerships between FES and the National Nuclear Security Administration on IFE, and support DOE’s public-private partnership Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program for the commercialization of fusion energy.

LLNL, which operates the National Ignition Facility, was awarded $16 million for four years to lead the largest of the three hubs, the IFE Science and Technology Accelerated Research for Fusion Innovation and Reactor Engineering (STARFIRE) Hub. LLNL IFE institutional initiative lead Tammy Ma serves as principal investigator for the IFE Hub. It will aim to accelerate demonstration of high-gain target designs, target manufacturing and engagement, and diode-pumped solid state laser technologies, with development of these technologies guided through an IFE-plant modeling framework.
View from inside the OMEGA target chamber during a direct-drive inertial fusion experiment at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, which is leading a new multi-institutional inertial fusion energy hub funded by the US Department of Energy. Courtesy of Eugene Kowaluk, University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics.

View from inside the OMEGA target chamber during a direct-drive inertial fusion experiment at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics, which is leading a new multi-institutional inertial fusion energy hub funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Courtesy of Eugene Kowaluk/University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics.

The Calif.-based hub comprises members from seven universities, four U.S. national labs, one international lab, three commercial entities, one philanthropic organization, and three private IFE companies. In addition to researchers from LLNL, participants come from General Atomics; University of California, San Diego; University of California, Berkeley; UCLA; UR; MIT; University of Oklahoma; Texas A&M University; Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology; TRUMPF Inc.; Leonardo Electronics US Inc.; Livermore Lab Foundation; SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Savannah River National Laboratory; Xcimer Energy; Focused Energy Inc.; and Longview Fusion Energy Systems.

The University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) was given a four-year, $10 million award to lead the Inertial Fusion Energy-Consortium on LPI (laser-plasma interaction) Research (IFE-COLoR) Hub. The hub brings together experts from LLE, UCLA, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and private sector members including Ergodic and Xcimer Energy.

The Rochester hub, focused on determining the scientific and technological underpinnings for a broad-bandwidth, direct-drive IFE laser system, aims to address laser-plasma instabilities at IFE conditions, considered the main obstacle to achieving efficient laser coupling. The IFE-COLoR team will deliver a broadband long-pulse laser that is predicted to mitigate laser-plasma instabilities. Doing so successfully will enable more than 90% of the laser energy to be coupled with the implosion, creating a practical and economic laser-driven IFE system.

Headquartered at CSU, the RISE Hub received $16 million for four years from DOE. RISE, to be co-led by CSU and DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, will bring together experts from the University of Illinois, Cornell University, Texas A&M, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Naval Research Laboratory, Marvel Fusion, Xcimer Energy, and General Atomics.

Experiments at CSU will leverage the power of its ALEPH laser, a high-repetition-rate, petawatt-class laser system to be upgraded to 2 pW. Carmen Menoni, CSU Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, serves as director of the RISE Hub.

Published: December 2023
1. The combination of the effects of two or more stimuli in any given sense to form a single sensation. With respect to vision, the perception of continuous illumination formed by the rapid successive presentation of light flashes at a specified rate. 2. The transition of matter from solid to liquid form. 3. With respect to atomic or nuclear fusion, the combination of atomic nuclei, under extreme heat, to form a heavier nucleus.
inertial fusion energy
Inertial fusion energy (IFE) refers to a proposed method of generating electricity by harnessing the energy released from the fusion of light atomic nuclei, typically isotopes of hydrogen, through a process known as inertial confinement fusion. Inertial fusion energy aims to replicate the energy-producing reactions that power the sun and other stars, utilizing the immense heat and pressure generated during the fusion process to produce electricity. Key features and concepts associated with...
The center of a local area network in the star topology.
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