ORNL's Role in Enabling an Aggressive Path to Fusion Energy
Dr. Mickey Wade
Fusion Energy Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Monday, March 27, 2023
Boggs Building, Room 3-47
404 894 6838
Heralded by a series of community reports, a new era in US fusion energy development has dawned, focused on delivering fusion electricity as soon as possible. Achieving net electricity is no small task requiring robust solutions to three major challenges: 1) creating/sustaining a fusion heat source; 2) deploying materials that can survive fusion's extreme conditions; and 3) closing the fusion fuel cycle while simultaneously producing net electricity. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is well positioned to play a key role in the development (and ultimately integration) of each of these areas. Through its role delivering US contributions for ITER and successfully deploying fusion technologies on devices worldwide, ORNL has gained valuable experience in designing and fabricating fusion-reactor-class components. This experience is reinforced by ORNL's strong burning plasma physics program that has supported the ITER design in the areas of plasma fueling, disruption mitigation, power exhaust, particle control, RF heating, core-edge integration, and energetic particles. ORNL is a world leader in fusion materials and has begun construction of the Materials Plasma Exposure eXperiment (MPEX), a facility capable of assessing material behavior and plasma-facing-component performance in fusion-reactor-relevant conditions up to end-of-life levels of plasma exposure. ORNL leads the US blanket research program and has recently completed assembly of a Helium Flow Loop to enable tests of cooling performance of advanced manufactured blanket components. These capabilities are supported and augmented by world-class capabilities in computation, theory & simulation, diagnostic development, model validation, and fusion system design, providing a strong foundation for developing an integrated design capability for optimization and/or evaluation of future fusion pilot plant designs. The envisioned role for ORNL in enabling an aggressive, yet highly collaborative, US fusion program in the next decade while simultaneously supporting the fusion aspirations of the private sector will be discussed.
Dr. Mickey R. Wade is the Director of the Fusion Energy Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he leads a diverse team of scientists and engineers in developing scientific and technological solutions for fusion energy. Previously, Dr. Wade was the Director of the DIII-D National Fusion Program and has made numerous contributions to advancing US interest in ITER and in leading key community strategic planning activities. He is the author of over 30 first-author papers, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and previously served on the Editorial Boards of Nuclear Fusion and Physics of Plasmas. Dr. Wade received his master's and doctorate degrees in Nuclear Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1987 and 1991, respectively.