Interfacial-Engineered Membranes for Efficient Tritium Extraction

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Golden, Colorado
Project Term:
01/01/2021 - 12/31/2023

Critical Need:

For more than 60 years, fusion research and development (R&D) has focused on attaining the required fuel density, temperature, and energy confinement time of the plasma fuel of a viable fusion energy system. Currently, relatively modest investments have been made in the required and equally critical enabling technologies and advanced materials surrounding the plasma fuel. The GAMOW program supports innovative R&D that will help establish both the technical and commercial viability of (i) all the required technologies and subsystems between the fusion plasma and the balance of plant, (ii) cost-effective, high-efficiency, high-duty-cycle driver technologies, and (iii) novel fusion materials and advanced manufacturing of these materials.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

One of the biggest challenges facing the practical deployment of fusion energy-based power is the effective management of tritium resources. Tritium, an isotope of hydrogen with a short half-life, is a fusion fuel and must be continuously generated, recovered, and recycled in any tritium-fueled fusion power plant. Currently, scalable tritium extraction and pumping technologies do not exist. Colorado School of Mines will develop and demonstrate engineered composite membranes for efficient tritium extraction from breeder media and the vessel exhaust. These membranes will be engineered for high performance, stability, and environmental compatibility. Atomic layer deposition and reactive sputtering will be used to modify surfaces and impart desired functionality. This technology enables a lower-cost and safer fusion energy system by eliminating major fuel cycle components and reducing tritium inventory, release, and required breeding ratios.

Potential Impact:

Successful development of fusion energy science and technology could lead to a safe, carbon-free, abundant energy source for developed and emerging economies.


The GAMOW program will advance American leadership in fusion energy science and technology.


If successfully developed and commercialized, fusion energy can provide abundant, zero-carbon energy.


Advances in GAMOW’s technical areas will help accelerate progress toward commercial fusion energy and a new zero-carbon energy economy.


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


Idaho National Laboratory

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