General Atomics Awarded Funding for Tokamak Research in Facilities Around the World

Innovative research will support development of a fusion energy pilot plant

SAN DIEGO – 18 November 2022 – Five researchers at General Atomics (GA) have been awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct experimental research in fusion energy, which will be performed at tokamak facilities in the U.S. and around the world. The awards were made as part of a $47 million funding announcement for research to close scientific and technological gaps in support of a fusion energy pilot plant (FPP).

“This funding will enable important collaborative research as the world looks to fusion energy,” said Dr. Wayne Solomon, Vice President of Magnetic Fusion Energy at General Atomics. “DOE’s support of the fusion community and emphasis on research to address gaps in fusion science and technology will help deliver fusion energy faster.”

Fusion is the process that powers the stars and offers the potential for nearly limitless clean, safe energy. It occurs when two light nuclei combine to form a new one, releasing vast amounts of energy that can be used to generate electricity and power key industrial processes.

Researchers can achieve fusion using a tokamak, which uses heat, magnets, and microwaves to create a plasma. In a plasma, electrons are stripped from atoms, producing a highly ionized “soup” of charged particles that can be controlled by magnetic fields. Research conducted on tokamaks largely focuses on developing and testing new methods to improve the control of plasma to enhance efficiency and support the development of smaller, cost-effective fusion energy plants.

“DOE’s support for tokamak research is very important to achieving economic fusion energy,” said Dr. David Eldon, a GA researcher who received two awards to address challenges in the design of a heat exhaust control system in a fusion machine. “For my own research, I will use these resources to develop a novel toolset for a fusion plant control system. I will also develop ‘observers’, which will replace certain diagnostics that are unable to withstand the harsh interior environment during long periods of operation. These projects are important for creating feasible control capabilities at future electricity-producing fusion facilities, and DOE funding makes them possible.”

Awards were made to the following researchers at General Atomics:

Name Topic
Nicholas Eidietis Long Pulse ITER Scenarios and Control on KSTAR
David Eldon Divertor Heat Flux Control Design for High Heat Flux Tokamaks
David Eldon Development of Divertor Plasma Detachment Control Systems on the KSTAR Tokamak
Anthony Leonard Divertor Physics and Control on the MAST-U Tokamak
Yueqiang Liu 3D Response and Control on the MAST-U Spherical Tokamak
Thomas Osborne H-mode Pedestal, Integrated Modeling, and Model Validation on the MAST-U Tokamak

The full list of projects funded under the announcement can be found here:

GA recently announced its concept for a FPP, utilizing a steady-state, compact advanced tokamak design approach, where the fusion plasma is maintained for long periods of time to maximize efficiency, reduce maintenance costs, and increase the lifetime of the facility. Fueled primarily by isotopes of hydrogen found in seawater and capable of generating its own fuel during operation, the GA FPP would provide baseload energy without any harmful emissions or long-lived waste. Capable of operating around the clock, commercialized fusion power plants would provide sustainable, carbon-free energy for generations.

About General Atomics. Since the dawn of the atomic age, General Atomics innovations have advanced the state of the art across the full spectrum of science and technology – from nuclear energy and defense to medicine and high-performance computing. Behind a talented global team of scientists, engineers, and professionals, GA's unique experience and capabilities continue to deliver safe, sustainable, economical, and innovative solutions to meet growing global demands.

For more information contact:
Evan Polisar
Strategic Communications Manager

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