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October 12, 2023 | Tom Ballard

ORNL secures nearly $22 million to accelerate fusion energy

The lab is the lead on three new projects to bring the technology to the grid on a rapid timescale.

Fusion energy is a hot topic these days (no pun intended), and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is playing a key role in advancing the technology.

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that the lab will lead three new projects designed to bring fusion energy to the grid on a rapid timescale. The impetus comes as a result of a combination of factors including rising energy demands, the need for zero-carbon generation, and energy security concerns that are driving research on fusion energy production to provide an abundant, inherently safe, non-carbon-emitting energy source.

“These three projects are aimed directly at our goal of advancing fusion science and technology and bringing them together to develop and optimize cost-effective fusion energy systems,” said Phil Snyder, Interim Director of ORNL’s Fusion Energy Division. “I couldn’t be more excited to see these projects starting up, and these talented teams pushing forward the frontiers. We are building the future of fusion energy today.”

  • One ORNL-led project is the Fusion REactor Design and Assessment, or FREDA, a collaboration with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), General Atomics, Sandia National Laboratories, and the University of California, San Diego. FREDA will receive $9.2 million over four years.
  • The second project, which seeks solutions for reactor components to manage the extremely high heat and particle loads from the interactions between plasma and liquid metal, involves the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory; LLNL; University of Michigan, Dearborn; General Fusion; and HyPerComp Inc. That award is $9.3 million over four years.
  • The final project, funded at $3.2 million over three years, involves research in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data resources for fusion energy sciences.

More information on the awards can be found here.


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