NSTX pictured in 2016 (Credit PPPL)The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $17 million in funding for research at the National Spherical Tokamak Experiment Upgrade (NSTX-U), a facility at DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey.

The initiative will support experiments, data analysis, and computer modelling and simulation of plasma behaviour, DOE said. A major focus will be on beginning to lay the scientific groundwork for a next-generation facility through better understanding of the behaviour of plasmas in spherical tokamaks.

“Fusion holds the promise of abundant clean energy for the nation and the world,” noted Dr Chris Fall, director of DOE’s Office of Science. “American scientists have been in the forefront of fusion energy research from the beginning, and this research will help sustain US leadership in this critical field.”

NSTX-U is one of the largest fusion energy facilities in the US, along with the DIII-D National Fusion Facility at General Atomics in San Diego, California. While repairs continue, early research will focus on analysing the data from NSTX-U’s initial run in 2016 as well as computer modelling and simulation. This will include modelling low collisionality plasmas, as well as detailed analysis of previously observed energetic particle instabilities.

The funding awards were made by competitive peer review under a DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement sponsored by the Fusion Energy Sciences programme within DOE’s Office of Science. Total planned funding is $17 million for awards of five years in duration, with up to $6 million in Fiscal Year 2020 dollars and outyear funding subject to congressional appropriations and satisfactory progress.

Photo: NSTX pictured in 2016 (Credit: PPPL)