Let’s Get the Fusion Party Started, Says DOE

Image: Commonwealth Fusion Systems

Fusion is the word on the DOE’s lips this week. The agency is taking concrete steps toward its commitment to the commercial fusion sector, finally awarding a set of previously announced grants and announcing a brand-new program to support tech development in the sector.

“After decades of primarily supporting only scientific projects, federal fusion funding priorities now also include the practical needs of a new industry that will disrupt the way we think about and use energy,” Commonwealth Fusion Systems CEO Bob Mumgaard said at a White House event last week. And the DOE’s actions are certainly backing him up.

By the milestone: Last year, the DOE announced that it would award up to $46M to eight companies developing commercial fusion tech through its Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program. 

  • The initiative is modeled after NASA’s famed Commercial Orbital Transfer Services (COTS) program, which signaled government support for the commercial space industry and kick-started competition.

At the time, the DOE had announced which eight companies were participating, but not the dollar amounts of the individual contracts. Now, the DOE has officially awarded those eight grants, with two recipients revealing their pieces of the pie:

  • Commonwealth Fusion Systems, which is building the ARC tokamak, received $15M—the largest individual award.
  • Xcimer Energy, which is working on inertial confinement fusion, received $9M.

The other awardees are Focused Energy, Thea Energy, Realta Fusion, Tokamak Energy, Type One Energy Group, and Zap Energy.

Th-th-that’s not all, folks: The DOE is increasing its commitment to fusion energy development. Last week, the agency’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences announced its new Fusion Innovation Research Engine (FIRE), which will make $180M available for teams to work on commercial fusion projects and supporting tech.

  • Pre-applications are due July 9, and final submissions are due Aug. 27.
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