Public-private partnership grants to speed the arrival of fusion energy

By John Greenwald

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An unprecedented six new public-private partnership grants have been awarded to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, which is managed by Princeton University, for research on the science and engineering of fusion. The partnerships — representing one-third of the 18 the DOE’s Innovation Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE) selected for 2023 — aim to accelerate the production of fusion energy, the same power that drives the sun and stars.

In one such partnership, PPPL scientists will team with Germany’s Gauss Fusion to explore a type of high-temperature superconductor designed to work with future fusion reactors, including spherical tokamaks that have high magnetic fields. Engineer Yuhu Zhai will use PPPL’s modeling capabilities to lead the exploration. The project also will compare low-temperature superconductors, which must operate in liquid helium at near-zero temperature, with high-temperature superconductors that can run at higher current density, temperature and magnetic fields.