As commercial fusion continues its march towards viability, there are still key R&D challenges that remain including the need for materials development and innovation in various areas. Materials technology meets the current needs for other types of reactors but will need to be engineered to far more challenging standards for fusion energy in terms of temperatures, pressures, neutron degradation, corrosion, and a host of other material properties.
The fusion power reactor has specific components including the divertor for magnetic fusion, first wall, and blankets for deuterium-tritium fusion designs that still are at low TRL level. Generally, the material properties being sought are improvements in neutron degradation, thermal mechanical loading, corrosion, fracture toughness, erosion protection, and thermal conductivity.
Additionally, the area of high temperature superconducting (HTS) magnets is a key enabling technology for magnetic fusion reactors. New innovations are needed to achieve higher fields and current densities than the well-established options in magnet materials such as NbTi and Nb3Sn materials.
Finally, the pursuit of fusion energy is an international effort by many types of organizations including over 30 private firms, government labs, public-private partnerships, and one of the largest and most ambitious international collaborations in the form of ITER. Recent achievement of ignition at the National Ignition Facility has now engendered great interest in inertial fusion energy as well. The diversity of this effort will be critical to ultimately achieving commercial fusion energy.
This special symposium will focus on the materials research for commercial fusion for all potential reactor designs with specific topics shown below. Additionally, it will highlight the growing private sector involvement as well as private-public partnerships that are playing an increasingly important role in achieving fusion energy commercialization.
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