TRUMPF to Participate in Laser Fusion Energy Research Initiative

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Laser-Fusion-Research-Program-TRUMPF
Image Credits: trumpf.com

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has recently allocated $42 million to support the development of laser fusion technology, designating three new hubs for research and innovation. This strategic investment aims to propel laser-based fusion into a prominent role as a clean and sustainable energy source for the future. TRUMPF, one of the key players known for its laser expertise, is actively engaged in this project.

TRUMPF, one of the pioneering forces in the field of production technology, is working on advancing and digitally connecting manufacturing processes to enhance efficiency, precision, and future readiness. Positioned as one of the market and technology leaders in machine tools and lasers for industrial manufacturing, TRUMPF’s innovations span across diverse sectors. Their mission is rooted in making manufacturing, along with its upstream and downstream processes, more streamlined and effective, contributing to the creation of the industrial world of tomorrow.

TRUMPF’s software solutions play a pivotal role in realizing the vision of the Smart Factory, facilitating the integration of high-tech processes into industrial electronics. The company’s commitment extends beyond the present, with a focus on unlocking technological possibilities for future generations. TRUMPF‘s portfolio encompasses a wide array of technologies, including lasers, machine tools, EUV, and electronics. These technologies serve as catalysts, inspiring individuals to bring their creative energy to life, turning what was once unimaginable into a tangible reality both now and in the future.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California has been playing a crucial role in contributing to the global frontier in laser-based fusion technology. One year ago, on December 5, 2022, LLNL achieved a breakthrough by successfully achieving fusion with a net energy gain at the National Ignition Facility. The researchers have since replicated this success three times, achieving even higher energy yields, establishing LLNL as a pivotal institution in advancing fusion energy.

In recognition of the potential of laser fusion, the U.S. Department of Energy has committed $42 million to three new laser fusion hubs. These hubs, collaborative ventures involving academic institutions, national labs, and industrial corporations, including TRUMPF, will channel their collective expertise to address the fundamental challenges hindering fusion energy’s economical viability and environmental sustainability.

TRUMPF will contribute its expertise to the project. Stewart McDougall, Head of Research and Development at TRUMPF Photonics in Cranbury, New Jersey, emphasizes the pivotal role of modernizing diode lasers in achieving the goal of an Inertial Fusion Energy (IFE) power plant. The objective is to replace outdated pump sources from the 1980s with contemporary diode lasers, necessitating substantial increases in global laser diode production capacity. TRUMPF’s role is not merely limited to technological advancements; it extends to collaboration with consortium partners in addressing key aspects such as scaling, cost reduction, and standardization of diode pump sources.

Mr McDougall underlines the importance of a comprehensive approach, stating, “We will work with the consortium partners to address the key questions of scaling, cost reduction, and standardization of diode pump sources. We will also help produce a roadmap for the community.” The four-year project aims to leverage TRUMPF’s over two decades of experience in developing and commercializing diode laser pump sources for industrial solid-state lasers.

TRUMPF’s expertise encompasses the entire value chain, from materials to environmental and reliability testing, and integration with laser systems. Mr McDougall acknowledges the prolonged timeline associated with fusion power plant development and profitability, estimating that it might take decades before they become operational and financially viable. TRUMPF’s involvement as consultants in this future-oriented project is a testament to their expertise and underscores the company’s commitment to contributing valuable insights to this pioneering field.

It’s worth noting that while TRUMPF is an integral partner in advancing laser fusion technology, it does not receive direct funding for the project. The U.S. government’s funding aligns with the national objective set by the U.S. President, aiming to demonstrate validated concepts for various fusion power plants by 2032.

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