In the News

  • Portable Nuclear Power Reactor Program Advances at GA

    Naysayers are nothing new for General Atomics. While others say nuclear power is on the decline, the privately held company is betting on a vision of small reactors cooled by helium gas. It’s a long-term vision since GA’s reactor design is not ready for commercial use. In fact, a basic component of the reactor — uranium fuel rods made from a novel ceramic material rather than conventional materials — needs to be proven in the lab and cleared by federal regulators. That process will take several years.

  • General Atomics receives $6.9M in funding awards for nuclear fusion research

    Four researchers from San Diego-based General Atomics have received awards totaling $6.9 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue their work on harnessing the vast potential of nuclear fusion as a source of energy. In addition, DOE granted $7.8 million to eight researchers across the country to come to General Atomics to perform research at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility that houses what is called a “tokamak” — a doughnut-shaped fusion reactor that is crucial in the pursuit of making nuclear fusion work on a practical level. General Atomics operates the largest tokamak in the nation for the DOE.

  • Cristina Rea: Taming fusion with machine learning

    Postdoctoral associate Cristina Rea at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) is exploring ways to predict disruptions in the turbulent plasma that fuels fusion tokamaks. Tokamaks use magnetic fields to contain hot plasma in a donut-shaped vacuum chamber long enough for fusion to occur. Chaotic and unpredictable, the plasma resists confinement, and disrupts. Timely predictions about incipient plasma disruptions could help sustain fusion energy production in these devices, while preventing damage to the machine. To tackle the issue, Rea is part of the PSFC’s collaboration with the DIII-D tokamak in San Diego, which, since the Center’s Alcator C-Mod device ended its run in September 2016, is the only fusion grade tokamak in the U.S. that is currently running.

  • How General Atomics Developed Its Revolutionary Nuclear Fuel Solution

    The U.S. is pouring funding into developing new fuel technology for advanced nuclear reactors in a bid to help the flagging industry. On April 27, it awarded General Atomics (GA) $3.2 million for two projects that the San Diego, California-based company is developing, including an accident tolerant fuel (ATF) solution that the company says is “truly revolutionary.”

  • Stable Isotope Proves Valuable in Study of Fusion Reactor Wall Erosion

    Researchers in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Stable Isotope Group are accustomed to helping scientists identify solutions that optimize the design of their experiments and enable the novel use of isotopes. This division works closely with California-based General Atomics on a national fusion energy tokamak device called DIII-D, located in San Diego, and is collaborating with them on improving methods for tracing the erosion, transport, and re-deposition of tungsten (W) at the plasma material interface in the fusion reactor.

  • General Atomics receives $3.2 million in federal funding for advanced nuclear energy work

    General Atomics has received two awards from the U.S. Department of Energy totaling more than $3.26 million to continue the San Diego-based company's work on developing new types of fuel for advanced nuclear reactors. The awards will go to two projects aimed at speeding the development and licensing of a reactor fuel that features silicon carbide composite fuel cladding that contains uranium carbide fuel pellets.

  • Challenges for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Licensing Accident Tolerant Fuel

    A variety of ATF designs have been proposed by DOE-funded groups and other manufacturers. Both new fuel-rod cladding materials and new fuel types are under development, including an advanced silicon carbide (SiC) composite fuel-rod cladding being developed by General Atomics. This effort has the support of multiple stakeholders across the nuclear industry, from fuel suppliers and DOE national laboratories to the Electric Power Research Institute, utilities, and plant owners.

  • Fusion Research Ignites Innovation

    The development of fusion energy has led to many important spinoff technologies that are being used around the world, including the GA-developed Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), which leveraged expertise from the DIII-D National Fusion Facility. The U.S. Navy is using EMALS on the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and GA is under contract to deliver EMALS on all future Ford-class aircraft carriers.

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