Capability in Theory, Modeling, and Validation for a Range of Innovative Fusion Concepts Using High-Fidelity Moment-Kinetic Models

Default ARPA-E Project Image

Project Term:
05/04/2020 - 06/30/2023

Critical Need:

Controlled fusion has long been thought of as an ideal energy source—safe, clean, abundant, and dispatchable. Fusion is on the cusp of demonstrating net positive energy gain, spurring interest in both the public and private sectors to adopt a more aggressive development path toward a timely, grid-ready demonstration. A critical need today is to increase the performance levels and the number of lower-cost fusion approaches that might eventually lead to commercial fusion energy with competitive capital cost and levelized cost of energy. To address this need, the BETHE program supports (1) advancing the performance of earlier-stage, lower-cost concepts, (2) component-technology development to lower the cost of more-mature concepts, and (3) capability teams to assist multiple concept teams in theory, modeling, and diagnostic measurements.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

As fusion machines move toward a burning-plasma regime, liquid first walls and blankets may be needed to handle first‑wall heat-flux, reduce erosion, and eventually to convert energy and generate tritium fuel. Repetitively pulsed fusion designs may require extreme electrode survivability, where the electrode may be solid, liquid, or a combination of both. It is critical to address how plasma dynamics in the fusion plasma will couple with both liquid-metal and electrode-material dynamics for fusion energy to become realizable. This Capability Team will use fluid and reduced kinetics, including building on its existing open-source simulation technology, Gkeyll, and a multi-phase, incompressible magnetohydrodynamic model, to study liquid- and solid-wall dynamics in the presence of fusion plasma and to experimentally validate aspects of the modeling tools. The team will perform high-fidelity kinetic plasma simulations that can account for complex plasma-wall interactions to support the development of multiple lower-cost fusion concepts.

Potential Impact:

Accelerating and lowering the costs of fusion development and eventual deployment will enable fusion energy to contribute to:


Fusion energy will ensure the U.S.’s technological lead and energy security.


Fusion energy will improve the chances of getting to cost-effective, net-zero carbon emissions, while minimizing pollution and avoiding long-lived radioactive waste.


As a disruptive technology, fusion energy will likely create new markets, opportunities, and export advantages for the U.S.