In The News

  • What Will a Fusion Power Plant Look Like?

    General Atomics (GA), a San Diego, California–based developer of advanced technology solutions for government and commercial applications, is a leader in the quest to harness fusion energy. To better understand what this achievement means, what a fusion power plant might look like, and what still needs to be done to bring fusion power online, I spoke with Wayne Solomon, vice president for Magnetic Fusion Energy with GA’s Energy Group, and Brian Grierson, GA’s Fusion Pilot Plant hub director. Both men were extremely excited about the announcement.

  • Researchers Present Vision for HPC Fusion Data Gateway

    Fusion energy is having a moment – an increasingly fruitful one – but as radio astronomers and particle physicists know, bigger and better experiments and simulations mean data deluges that quickly become difficult to manage. In a paper for the 22nd Smoky Mountains Computational Sciences and Engineering Conference – hosted virtually last year – researchers from General Atomics, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Virginia outlined their vision for a science gateway to help manage and share fusion data that the authors expect to “substantially balloon in the near future.”

  • Cold, Powerful Magnet Will Help Control Hot Plasma In Fusion Reactor

    A magnet so powerful it could lift an aircraft carrier six feet into the air was designed in a project managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It will be used in an international experimental reactor in southern France to produce energy using fusion, the same process used by the sun and other stars to create heat and light. Six modules for the reactor’s central superconducting magnet, plus a spare, are being made by General Atomics in Poway, California.

  • Fusion breakthrough will lead to investments, but its use won't come overnight

    The dramatic and historic breakthrough on fusion energy at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is expected to bring an injection of cash into the clean energy source — even though it’s still many years away from becoming a mainstream power source.

  • After breakthrough, DOE eyes fusion power plant

    The Department of Energy on Tuesday celebrated a major fusion energy milestone, outlining how scientists for the first time were able to produce more energy from a reaction than was consumed. “This milestone moves us one significant step closer” to having zero-carbon fusion energy “powering our society,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said at a DOE ceremony celebrating the results of an experiment by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

  • National Lab Unlocks Nuclear Fusion - True Breakthrough, Novelty Act, Or Both?

    Nuclear fusion has long been the Holy Grail of truly clean energy. The smashing together of hydrogen atoms promises limitless electricity with zero carbon emissions, a minimum of radioactive waste and zero chance of catastrophic meltdown. But for a half-century fusion scientists have been limited by the power of their lasers and the strength of their magnetic fields — never before figuring out how to milk more energy out of their atom smashing than they put in. Until now.

  • Taking A New Angle to Boost Plasma Performance in Advanced Tokamaks

    Taking A New Angle to Boost Plasma Performance in Advanced Tokamaks

    Magnetic confinement is one of the leading paths to fusion energy. One variant of this approach uses a device known as a tokamak like the DIII-D National Fusion Facility to confine the super-hot plasmas inside powerful magnetic fields until fusion occurs. The tokamak approach has demonstrated exceptional ability to contain these plasmas, which are created when the fuel gas is heated until atoms separate into charged particles and serve as the fuel for nuclear fusion.

  • General Atomics Unveils Fusion Pilot Plant Concept

    General Atomics has designed a compact fusion pilot plant as the company aims to become a leader in producing clean, sustainable energy. The company said Thursday it will collaborate with fusion energy stakeholders to execute its vision for the facility, which will use its proprietary Fusion Synthesis Engine for maximum operational efficiency.

  • The frontrunners in the trillion-dollar race for limitless fusion power

    With energy prices on the rise, along with demands for energy independence and an urgent need for carbon-free power, plans to walk away from nuclear energy are now being revised in Japan, South Korea, and even Germany. Last month, Europe announced green bonds for nuclear, and the U.S., thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, will soon devote millions to new nuclear designs, incentives for nuclear production and domestic uranium mining, and, after years of paucity in funding, cash for fusion.

  • US and Czech Scientists Collaborate to Explore Gamma-Ray Production with High Power Lasers

    The U.S. National Science Foundation and the Czech Science Foundation are funding a new collaborative project of scientists from the University of California San Diego and General Atomics in the U.S. and the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences which aims to leverage the capabilities of the ELI Beamlines multi-petawatt laser facility. Researchers hope these experiments can achieve a breakthrough by demonstrating efficient generation of dense gamma-ray beams.

  • General Atomics names new VP for its nuclear fusion division

    The nuclear fusion division of San Diego-based General Atomics has a new boss. Wayne Solomon has been promoted from deputy director to vice president of the company’s Magnetic Fusion Energy Division. The move comes at a time when greater attention has focused on whether nuclear fusion technology can live up to its long sought-after potential as a power source.

  • Burning plasma achieved in inertial fusion

    Obtaining a burning plasma is a critical step towards self-sustaining fusion energy1. A burning plasma is one in which the fusion reactions themselves are the primary source of heating in the plasma, which is necessary to sustain and propagate the burn, enabling high energy gain. After decades of fusion research, here we achieve a burning-plasma state in the laboratory.

  • Is a $22bn giant magnet the ‘holy grail’ of clean energy?

    At a quiet commercial park in Poway, California, in the dry hills above San Diego, there are few clues that the future is being built inside the warehouse-like machine workshop. But this is where the Central Solenoid, a five-storey, 1,000-tonne superconducting electromagnet at the heart of ITER is being manufactured by General Atomics, a defence and energy contractor better known for making Predator drones.

  • Nuclear Fusion Energy Device at General Atomics Coming Back Online

    After a shutdown of nearly six months for upgrades, a powerful magnetic chamber on the campus of San Diego’s General Atomics that is instrumental in the search to someday make nuclear fusion a practical source of energy is poised to restart operations. The DIII-D National Fusion Facility at General Atomics fuses hydrogen atoms at extraordinarily high temperatures to recreate the power of the sun.

  • LLE and General Atomics: A Partnership for the Future

    For a collaboration that is often measured in microns, it is a bit ironic that the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) and General Atomics (GA) are more than 2500 miles apart.

  • Fast Flows Prevent Buildup of Impurities on the Edge of Tokamak Plasmas

    In a tokamak, impurities can move through the edge of the plasma and enter the plasma’s core, contaminating it and reducing power. However, researchers do not fully understand impurity transport along the plasma edge. Researchers at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, in partnership with the University of Tennessee, deployed a diagnostic called a collector probe to measure tungsten content in the edge of plasmas. 

  • San Diego’s General Atomics ships first piece of world’s most powerful magnet to France

    The first of seven modules that make up a crucial component of an international effort aimed at turning the vast potential of nuclear fusion energy into a reality has been successfully shipped overseas from the San Diego area — and another is about to head out the door this week. General Atomics is fabricating and testing pieces of what will make up the Central Solenoid — the world’s most powerful magnet — that will be inserted into the mammoth ITER nuclear fusion project, under construction near the town of Cadarache in southern France.

  • This giant magnet could unlock zero-carbon electricity from nuclear fusion

    Imagine almost limitless clean, carbon-free electricity. That’s the dream that’s driving scientists to build the world’s biggest magnet.

  • The World's Largest Fusion Reactor Now Has the World's Most Powerful Magnet

    The world's most powerful magnet, the "Central Solenoid," is finally here. At 59 feet tall, 14 feet wide, and 1,000 tons, the decade-in-the-making magnet is truly massive. Appropriately, it will soon find a home at the world's largest fusion reactor. General Atomics completed construction of the magnet's first module earlier this year. 

  • San Diego's Role in Creating Something that Could Change the World

    Darren & Jack Talk With Guest General Atomics Director of Engineering and Projects John Smith About Building The Worlds Biggest Magnet.

  • World's strongest magnet developed in San Diego, being sent to Europe

    World's strongest magnet developed in San Diego, being sent to Europe

    John Smith, director of engineering and projects at General Atomics, joins ABC 10News to discuss the development of the world's strongest magnet and its eventual usage.

  • UK Eyes 2025 Operation Date for Fusion Demo Plant as Powerful Magnet Heads to ITER

    This week marked two major milestones for fusion energy. On June 15, San Diego-based General Atomics (GA) said it was ready to ship the first module of the Central Solenoid—the world’s most powerful magnet—which will become a central component of ITER, the world’s largest experimental fusion facility that is under construction in France.

  • World's Most Powerful Magnet Will Help Recreate the Sun's Power on Earth

    The strongest magnet in the world, capable of lifting an aircraft carrier, is set to head to France, where it will be used as part of a nuclear fusion generator. The 59-foot tall, 1,000-ton Central Solenoid magnet will form a crucial part of the fusion generator because it will use its intense magnetic field to control a band of superheated plasma at temperatures of tens of millions of degrees.

  • This giant magnet can lift aircraft carriers and could power the future of energy

    It may turn out to be one of the most consequential road trips of all time. This week, key components for one of the world’s most powerful magnets, so strong it can lift an aircraft carrier 2 metres off the ground, were strapped onto a 24-axle truck in California.

  • This Magnet Can Lift an Aircraft Carrier And Will Attempt Nuclear Fusion

    One of the world’s most powerful magnets is the Central Solenoid of the megaproject ITER. It will be as tall as a six-story building, can lift an aircraft carrier, and is designed to play a central role in an upcoming experiment that might just provide humanity with the means to produce limitless energy without harming the planet.

  • World's most powerful magnet being shipped to ITER fusion reactor

    The world’s most powerful magnet is being shipped to France for installation in the core of ITER, the experimental fusion reactor. It is hoped that ITER will prove the feasibility of creating fusion energy on an industrial scale by replicating the process seen in the centre of our sun.

  • World's most powerful magnet begins journey to heart of giant fusion experiment

    Engineers in the U.S. are preparing to ship the first part of the world's most powerful magnet to France, where it will help power a state-of-the-art nuclear fusion reactor.

  • World's most powerful MAGNET is ready to be shipped to France for a nuclear fusion project that will replicate reactions in the SUN to create 'the ultimate clean energy source'

    The world's largest magnet, a decade in the making, is ready to be shipped to France where it will form the centrepiece of a project to replicate the power of the sun. This will form a central part of ITER, a £17 billion ($23.95 billion) machine that creates fusion energy on Earth, built in France by 35 partner countries to find a 'true renewable power'.

  • The ‘beating heart’ of international nuclear fusion project ships out of San Diego area this week

    General Atomics is about to ship the first piece of a crucial component of an ambitious and expensive international nuclear fusion project under construction in France. In segments, the San Diego-based company is building the world’s most powerful magnet — called the Central Solenoid — that will be inserted into the ITER project, which seeks to harness the power of nuclear fusion and deliver on the long-anticipated prospect of generating a virtually inexhaustible supply of carbon-free energy to the globe.

  • Physics in the pandemic: ‘We’ve been surprised at how easy it’s become to do high-level experiments from our homes’

    Ben Penaflor is computer systems manager at General Atomics, which operates the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego, California, for the US Department of Energy. This post is part of a series on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the personal and professional lives of physicists around the world.