Fort Collins, USA, December 7th – The U.S. Department of Energy will fund a newly established Inertial Fusion Science and Technology hub, named RISE. Headquartered at Colorado State University (CSU), the new hub will focus on advancing inertial fusion energy, or IFE, an energy source that will dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of how energy is supplied globally. RISE will receive $16 million in funding by the DOE over the next four years.
The RISE hub will complement Marvel Fusions and CSUs research and plans to construct the world’s most advanced short-pulse laser facility, announced in August 2023. Within the RISE hub, Marvel Fusion will perform experiments at Colorado State’s existing ALEPH laser facility with the goal of validating its fusion technology. For over two years, Marvel Fusion and CSU jointly conducted research on laser-based fusion at Colorado State’s ALEPH laser facility, establishing CSU as a leading environment for IFE.
Marvel Fusion is pursuing the commercialization of a fusion concept based on newly identified interactions between ultra-short, high-contrast laser pulses and small-scale nanostructures. Based on these findings, the RISE Hub will investigate this new concept for its scaling with laser and target parameters and its integration into novel IFE target designs. The conducted research of the RISE hub will precede Marvel Fusions and CSUs research at the planned laser facility.
In addition, the RISE hub will conduct experiments at other laser facilities to advance laser-based fusion and develop scalable and cost-effective manufacturing processes for different fuel target designs. “To commercialize fusion energy, public private partnerships are indispensable. The RISE hub explores new regimes of fusion-related physics we collaboratively identified and greatly enhances our understanding of inertial fusion,” says Georg Korn, Chief Technology Officer of Marvel Fusion.
Colorado State University and the DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, operated by Stanford University, will lead the new hub. They are working in partnership with experts from University of Illinois, Cornell University, Texas A&M, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Naval Research Laboratory, and three commercial companies: Marvel Fusion, Xcimer Energy, and General Atomics.
Fusion, the process that powers the stars, could be the key to enabling a safe, clean, and reliable energy source. Inertial fusion energy is a promising approach to fusion energy that uses powerful lasers to heat a small target containing fusible material.
Lasers are fundamental tools in IFE research. Last winter, for the first time in history, scientists at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory generated fusion gain, meaning more energy came out of a fusion reaction than laser energy that went in. RISE researchers aim to build on the momentum of that breakthrough to help make commercial fusion a success.
Experiments at CSU will leverage the power of its ALEPH laser, a high repetition rate petawatt-class (1 peta-watt: million billion watts) class laser system to be upgraded to 2 petawatts. ALEPH was built in-house under the leadership of University Distinguished Professor Jorge Rocca, in partnership with local experts in ultra-intense laser interaction with ordered nanostructures leading to fusion.
Carmen Menoni, University Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, serves as director of the new hub. Her team will use laser technologies to harness the potential of fusion for abundant clean energy. “We envision the hub to become a center of excellence for IFE science and technology and a magnet to attract talent and develop workforce to support DOE’s mission in IFE,” said Menoni. “We are thrilled to partner with a world-class team of experts who are committed to making IFE a commercial reality.”
The RISE hub is funded by the DOE’s Office of Science, Fusion Energy Science through the DOE’s Inertial Fusion Energy Science and Technology Accelerator Research (IFE-STAR).
The RISE hub will combine innovative target concepts with new developments in excimer gas lasers and solid-state laser drivers to open up novel IFE regimes. The hub will also prioritize the involvement of students and workforce development, and university-industry-national laboratory collaborations.
Marvel Fusion, founded in Munich in 2019, pursues a new and fast-track route to commercialize fusion energy. Its unique technology concept is based on highly intense short-pulsed lasers and proprietary nano-structured fuel targets. The company has validated fundamental physics factors of the theoretical model in continuous experiments over four years and demonstrated significant fusion reactions using ultrashort pulse high-intensity lasers and nanostructured fuel targets. The company will build a demonstration facility in Colorado for its technology jointly with the Colorado State University until 2026 worth $150 million.
Under the scientific leadership of Georg Korn and Hartmut Ruhl, Marvel Fusion is scientifically supported by renowned scientists in the field of fusion research, including Gérard Mourou, Nobel laureate in physics, Siegfried Glenzer from Stanford, and Florian Metzler from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Marvel Fusion is also part of the RISE hub on laser-based fusion research, led by Colorado State University and the DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The hub is operated by Stanford University in partnership with experts from University of Illinois, Cornell University, Texas A&M, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Naval Research Laboratory, Xcimer Energy, and General Atomics.
The company currently has €105 million in private funding and public cooperation projects and a team of 70 employees.
Jannik Reigl, Marvel Fusion
80339 Munich, Germany
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