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Two LLE scientists awarded DOE funding for fusion research

April 20, 2020
headshot of Valeri Goncharov

Valeri Goncharov

Two scientists at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE)—Valeri Goncharov and Petros Tzeferacos—have received funding awards from the US Department of Energy (DOE) for research in fusion energy.

The DOE recently announced the winners of $32 million in funding for 15 projects as part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s (ARPA-E) Breakthroughs Enabling THermonuclear-fusion Energy (BETHE) program. These projects will “work to develop timely, commercially viable fusion energy, with the goal to increase the number and performance levels of lower-cost fusion concepts.”

Rochester was the only institution to receive multiple awards.

Fusion has long been viewed as an ideal energy source due to its potential to be safe, clean, and reliable. However, to make it a viable energy source, there remains a need to lower the costs and accelerate the timeline of fusion development.

Goncharov, an assistant professor (research) of mechanical engineering, a senior scientist at the LLE, and director of the LLE’s Theory Division, was awarded $1.75 million to develop advanced laser-drive, high-target design technology for inertial fusion energy. These designs will be based on a novel, hot-spot ignition concept and are expected to mitigate the deleterious effects of various laser-plasma processes, potentially allowing for greater and more symmetric energy coupling to the target.

headshot of Petros Tzeferacos

Petros Tzeferacos

“For many years, progress in inertial confinement fusion was accomplished mainly by building bigger and more powerful (hence, more expensive) laser systems,” Goncharov says. “Our proposed approach is different. This will drastically change the landscape of fusion energy research, making the new laser technologies a compelling tool in achieving the challenging goals for inertial fusion energy applications.”

Tzeferacos, an associate professor of physics and astronomy and senior scientist at the LLE, was awarded $2 million to provide BETHE projects with theory and modeling capabilities and other such support in developing simulations of new fusion experiments and concepts.

“This project assembles a world-class resource team of computational scientists who will leverage a suite of highly capable simulation codes to design and enable new fusion concepts,” Tzeferacos says. “We are eager and excited to be bolstering ARPA-E’s BETHE program with state-of-the-art numerical modeling.”

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Category: Science & Technology