General Atomics announces plans for fusion pilot plant

General Atomics (GA) announced a new concept for a fusion pilot plant (FPP) to deliver clean, safe, and economically viable fusion energy.

GA’s FPP concept utilizes 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.

“Excitement for fusion energy is at an all-time high, with historic interest from private industry and government,” said Dr. Anantha Krishnan, Senior Vice President of the General Atomics Energy Group. “We look forward to working with our partners to make our vision for economic fusion energy a reality. Now is the time for fusion, and General Atomics plans to lead the way.”

Fusion is the process that powers the stars and offers the potential for nearly limitless clean energy. It occurs when two light nuclei combine to form a new one, releasing vast amounts of energy. Researchers can achieve fusion using a “tokamak,” which uses heat and electromagnets to create the necessary heat and pressure to force the nuclei to fuse.

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 firm energy for generations.

“The General Atomics Fusion Pilot Plant is a revolutionary step forward for commercializing fusion energy,” said Dr. Wayne Solomon, Vice President of Magnetic Fusion Energy at General Atomics. “Our practical approach to a FPP is the culmination of more than six decades of investments in fusion research and development, the experience we have gained from operating the DIII-D National Fusion Facility on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, and the hard work of countless dedicated individuals. This is a truly exciting step towards realizing fusion energy.”

“General Atomics has a long and storied history of being at the forefront of fusion innovations,” said Dr. Brian Grierson, Director of the Fusion Pilot Plant Hub at General Atomics. “We are proud to be a world leader in plasma theory and modeling, advanced materials engineering, and other areas necessary for commercializing fusion. We intend to bring the full strength of our institutional expertise to this effort as we advance our vision for fusion energy.”

The GA FPP concept capitalizes on GA innovations and advancements in fusion technology. The facility would utilize GA’s proprietary Fusion Synthesis Engine (FUSE) to enable engineers, physicists, and operators to rapidly perform a broad range of studies and continuously optimize the power plant for maximum efficiency. GA has also developed an advanced modular concept (GAMBL) for the breeding blanket which is a critical component (of the fusion power facility) that breeds tritium, a fusion energy fuel source, to make the fusion fuel cycle self-sufficient.

General Atomics recently announced a joint research partnership with Savannah River National Laboratory to address challenges of tritium handling as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Innovation Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE) grant program.

With extensive experience in at-scale manufacturing and established relationships across industry and government, GA is actively engaging with leading institutions around the world to pursue the most rapid, economically practical path to fusion energy—including leading universities, national laboratories, government, and industry. GA is working with a wide range of energy stakeholders to ensure that fusion is deployed in a way that meets the needs of local and global communities.

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