Retrospective of the ARPA-E ALPHA Fusion Program
This paper provides a retrospective of the Accelerating Low-cost Plasma Heating and Assembly (ALPHA) fusion program of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) of the U.S. Department of Energy. ALPHA’s objective was to catalyze research and development efforts to enable substantially lower-cost pathways to economical fusion power. To do this in a targeted, focused program, ALPHA focused on advancing the science and technology of pulsed, intermediate-density fusion approaches, including magneto-inertial fusion and Z-pinch variants, that have the potential to scale to commercially viable fusion power plants. The paper includes a discussion of the origins and framing of the ALPHA program, a summary of project status and outcomes, a description of associated technology-transition activities, and thoughts on a potential follow-on ARPA-E fusion program.