ARPA-E Announces $30 Million for Fusion AlternativesSeptember 16, 2014
In late August, The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced a program that will put $30 million over a three year period into 12-15 fusion projects using alternative approaches. Long in the planning, the new program will fund efforts that “help enable a path to economical fusion power through low-cost, high shot rate development.” It will specifically be aimed at devices that produce plasma in an intermediate density range of 10^18 to 10^23 ions/cm^3, between the low densities of the tokomak and the very high ones of laser fusion.
Update, Sept. 24: ARPA-E responded favorably on their website to LPP’s question about their new fusion Funding Opportunity Announcement. They had set a requirement that fusion yield be 5 times input energy—a requirement that was unnecessary for pB11 and probably impossible to meet. LPP had asked that the requirement be changed to take into account the much higher efficiency of energy conversion (and much more economical energy conversion) possible with aneutronic fuels. ARPA-E responded that we could instead use a requirement that electricity recycled back to the next pulse be no more than half the total electricity generated. (This is the same as requiring that net power be more than half of total electric power). They specifically mentioned higher efficiency with direct conversion of charged particles, typical of aneutronic fuels (although they did not mention the fuels themselves). Since Focus Fusion can meet this requirement, LPP will be applying for this grant.