Demonstration of Low-Density, High-Performance Operation of Sustained Spheromaks and Favorable Scalability toward Compact, Low-Cost Fusion Power Plants

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Seattle, Washington
Project Term:
07/01/2020 - 06/30/2023

Technology Description:

The University of Washington will advance the technical viability of a novel method, Imposed-Dynamo Current Drive (IDCD), for sustaining and heating spheromak plasmas as the basis of compact, low-cost fusion power plants. A traditional tokamak fusion reactor has a toroidal confinement area, similar shape to a donut, with a hole in the middle. The spheromak reduces the size of the hole as much as possible, resulting in a spherical plasma shape similar to a cored apple. IDCD can efficiently couple large amounts of power to the plasma at much lower costs relative to other methods of higher-frequency plasma heating. The proposed R&D aims to achieve spheromak ion and electron temperatures > 100 eV during sustainment on an existing experimental prototype. Other R&D activities include computational tasks to support both the scientific and engineering design of next-step prototypes with higher fusion performance. This project will increase the technological readiness level of this lower-cost fusion concept to encourage further development toward commercial fusion energy with both public and private support.

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 our chances of meeting growing global clean-energy demand and realizing 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.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Ahmed Diallo
Project Contact:
Dr. Christopher Hansen
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

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