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June 1, 2023

Devens fusion company awarded slice of $46M DOE milestone program

Photo | Courtesy of Commonwealth Fusion Systems Commonwealth Fusion Systems campus in Devens.

Commonwealth Fusion Systems is one of eight companies nationwide to receive funding as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s $46-million Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program, as part of an effort to produce a pilot-scale demonstration of fusion energy generation within a decade.

Photo | Courtesy of Commonwealth Fusion Systems
Bob Mumgaard, CEO of Commonwealth Fusion Systems, in Devens

“This program is part of the bold commitment from the Biden-Harris Administration to bring clean fusion energy to the grid within the next decade,” CFS Co-founder and CEO Bob Mumgaard said in a Wednesday CFS press release. “It leverages the strengths of the private and public sectors and encourages collaboration to accelerate progress.”

CFS’s work in the field of fusion was already on DOE’s radar. When the company opened its new $2-billion Devens headquarters and manufacturing facility in February, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm was among the high-profile attendees, which included U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), U.S. Congresswoman Lori Trahan (D -MA District 3), Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll in attendance. 

In the $46-million program, funding will be distributed as reimbursement only after pre-established commercialization milestones are achieved and verified by the DOE, according to the press release. While CFS did not detail how much it expects to receive, awards will be between $5 million and $25 million, according to the DOE’s funding opportunity announcement.

For the first 18 months of DOE’s program, CFS milestones focus on its commercially relevant net energy fusion device, called SPARC. CFS milestones include manufacturing and testing its first fusion magnet for SPARC, launching a fusion community benefits program that includes strong commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility and energy justice as part of that process, developing the design and technology roadmap for CFS’ first commercial fusion power plant, and submitting its ARC physics basis papers.

The DOE fusion milestone program is modeled on a NASA program, Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, which leveraged public-private partnerships (SpaceX and Orbital) to significantly reduce the cost of space flight, leading to an entirely new commercial space industry. 

“There is a growing global race for commercial fusion energy, and this DOE program will serve as a clear, data-driven and transparent way to measure private sector progress and ensure that the U.S. is playing a leading role. We hope this milestone program continues to grow in ambition and funding, which will be incredibly important as we work to bring this fundamentally new clean technology to the world,” said Mumgaard.

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