U.S. Department of Energy Announces $30 Million to Develop First-Wall Materials and Improve Sustainability and Commercial Viability of Fusion Energy

New Program Builds on ARPA-E’s History of Pursuing Innovative & Enabling R&D in Fusion Energy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $30 million in funding to develop first-wall materials—the materials used for the chamber or “fireplace” where fusion reactions occur—that can maintain design performance in a fusion power plant, an important element of the U.S. Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy. The Creating Hardened and Durable Fusion First-Wall Incorporating Centralized Knowledge (CHADWICK) program aims to support the development and production of these materials. As fusion energy advances toward commercial deployment, finding a material capable of optimized performance for a fusion first wall presents a significant scientific and engineering opportunity. Advancing fusion energy and the technologies that support it are crucial to achieving President Biden’s ambitious goal of a net-zero economy by 2050 and key to combatting the climate crisis.

“Deploying fusion energy presents an incredible opportunity to provide affordable, reliable clean energy to communities across the nation while also supporting President’s Biden’s climate goals,” said ARPA-E Director Evelyn N. Wang. “Commercial fusion requires materials that can maintain the performance necessary to operate in fusion power plants, and I look forward to seeing the teams that are a part of this important work.”

Managed by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the CHADWICK program seeks to reimagine what is possible in materials to ultimately enable the commercial viability of fusion power plants. In many envisioned fusion energy systems, the first wall faces extreme heat flux and is directly exposed to highly energetic charged and neutral particles. The safety and structural performance of the first wall are compromised over time by significant exposure to the extreme environment.

Projects funded through CHADWICK will go beyond optimization of known alloys and provide a comprehensive wide-ranging survey and analysis of new material chemistries and manufacturing processes by redefining what is possible in fusion materials.

CHADWICK continues ARPA-E’s history of enabling innovative fusion technologies. The program joins the Agency’s fusion portfolio, which includes the ALPHA, BETHE, and GAMOW programs. ALPHA supported the development of low-cost plasma heating and confinement concepts for future fusion energy systems. BETHE projects are improving the performance of inherently lower-cost fusion concepts, improving the economics of higher-performance concepts, and supporting capability teams to apply existing capabilities (e.g., theory/modeling, machine learning, or diagnostic) to accelerate the development of multiple concepts. GAMOW supports a wide range of fusion technologies outside of the fusion plasma to enable commercially attractive fusion energy.

Visit the ARPA-E eXCHANGE website for more information about CHADWICK, including key guidelines and dates for applicants.

ARPA-E advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies across a wide range of technical areas that are too early for private-sector investment. Learn more about these efforts and ARPA-E's commitment to ensuring the United States continues to lead the world in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies.


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