Commonwealth Fusion awarded US DOE grants

16 August 2023

The US Department of Energy’s Innovation Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE) programme has awarded US-based Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) three new grants to fund research & development projects with the University of California at Berkeley, Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, and University of California at Los Angeles. The INFUSE award programme is intended to accelerate fusion energy development through public-private research partnerships.

The CFS awards will support the following projects:

  • Electrochemical evaluation of hydrogen concentration and diffusivity in FLiBe [a eutectic mixture of lithium fluoride and beryllium fluoride]. This programme will measure the behaviour of tritium, a key fusion fuel, in FLiBe, which CFS’s ARC fusion power plant will use to transfer thermal energy, cool and shield components, and breed tritium.
  • Deuterium retention in boron dust. This programme will examine how boron, which is typically applied to the plasma-facing surfaces in tokamaks, traps deuterium, another key fusion fuel.
  • Informing ARC divertor design and plasma facing material selection through integrated modelling. This programme will evaluate the ability of material candidates to survive the demanding environment of an ARC power plant divertor.

INFUSE was established in 2019. The 2023 INFUSE awards total $4.6m and funded 18 projects at US National Labs and universities. The programme is sponsored by the Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) programme office within DOE’s Office of Science and is focused on accelerating fusion energy development through public-private research partnerships. The projects for the 2023 INFUSE awardees were selected through a competitive peer review process managed by the INFUSE leadership team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

CFS has received 21 INFUSE awards, and has past or present collaborative projects with12 US National Labs and universities. CFS was spun out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) Plasma Science & Fusion Centre as a private company in 2018, and has since raised more than $2bn in funding. CFS is collaborating with MIT to leverage decades of research combined with new high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnet technology. SPARC is a tokamak under development by CFS in collaboration with MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Centre, which is also designing the compact ARC (affordable, robust, compact) fusion reactor.

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