General Atomics Awarded DOE Contract To Develop Silicon Carbide Materials for Fusion Power Plants

SAN DIEGO – 30 Jan 2024 - General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today it has been awarded a three-year contract from the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science to develop a scalable, cost-competitive path to manufacture silicon carbide (SiC) and SiC composite foam materials for advanced fusion power plants.

“SiC and SiC foam will provide significant advantages in both efficiency and longevity to support fusion power plant applications,” stated Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “Foam made of SiC is a highly effective insulator that prevents unwanted heat transfer and is extremely resistant to radiation compared with other insulating materials that degrade over time. Our unique manufacturing method allows us to finely control the properties of the material and provides a cost-effective approach for the fabrication of SiC foam specifically engineered for the fusion environment.”

GA-EMS is developing high temperature ceramic-based composites for the nuclear environment, including SiGA® cladding -- a SiC composite based technology. SiGA® cladding is the material of choice under DOE’s Accident-Tolerant Fuel program to develop and demonstrate nuclear fuel rods capable of surviving temperatures far beyond that of current materials.  GA-EMS will leverage its high temperature ceramic fabrication and fusion test facilities to demonstrate the path toward manufacturing first-of-kind SiC and SiC foam materials.  

“General Atomics’ unique capabilities in advancing nuclear technologies provides us with the range and depth of expertise across the organization to support this effort,” added Christina Back, vice president of GA-EMS Nuclear Technologies and Materials. “We are developing the path forward to customize and test our SiC materials and composites at the dimensions, scale, and performance metrics required for application to fission and magnetic fusion programs in support of future nuclear power plants.”   

General Atomics announced its concept for a fully integrated fusion pilot plant in October 2022. The concept utilizes SiC–based materials that can withstand the intense conditions within a high-power fusion device. “Advanced materials like SiC and SiC composites will increase efficiency, reduce waste, and make fusion facilities more cost effective,” added Brian Grierson, director of General Atomics' Energy Group's Fusion Pilot Plant Design Hub.  

About General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) Group is a global leader in the research, design, and manufacture of first-of-a-kind electromagnetic and power generation systems. GA-EMS’ history of research, development, and technology innovation has led to an expanding portfolio of specialized products and integrated system solutions supporting aviation, space systems and satellites, missile defense, power and energy, and processing and monitoring applications for defense, industrial, and commercial customers worldwide. For further information, visit

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