EPRI Perspectives on Developing and Deploying Advanced Manufacturing Methods and Materials in Support of a Robust Fusion and Advanced Energy System Supply Chain

D. Grandas, A. Sowder, M. Albert, B. Sutton
Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI),
United States

Keywords: Powder Bed Fusion AM (PBF), Advanced Cladding Processes, diode laser cladding, Electron Beam Welding (EBW)


The energy transition presents the opportunity for fusion energy to serve as an abundant, reliable, and low-carbon energy source. To meet aggressive technology development and deployment targets, advanced materials and manufacturing methods are needed to support a robust supply chain of components suitable for fusion applications. Beyond a workable fusion core, many structures, systems, and components must be developed and ready in time for commercial procurement and operation of a fusion plant. In growing the fusion supply chain, lessons learned from parallel development in other advanced energy systems (e.g., advanced nuclear reactors, concentrating solar power, thermal energy storage, and power plants with carbon capture and storage), can inform synergistic opportunities. Through collaborative workshops and research efforts, EPRI has engaged energy technology developers, component manufacturers, and other supply chain stakeholders to identify needs, gaps, and solutions for advanced materials and manufacturing in advanced energy systems. EPRI’s three Supply Chain Workshops for Structural Components in Advanced Energy Systems2,3,4 have investigated key themes for developing supply chains, including material and manufacturing methods qualification processes, component testing infrastructure, and workforce development needs. Both material and manufacturing process qualification have large long term data needs, which can be accelerated via coordinated collaborative efforts for qualifying priority materials and methods. Sharing learnings from test loops, pilot facilities, and other testing infrastructure will serve to provide practical experience with materials phenomena and to identify supply chain pinch points. Coordinating workforce development efforts between technical schools, universities, and industry groups serves to bolster the supply of skilled tradespeople, such as machinists and welders, that are essential to supply chain development. Alongside the Supply Chain Workshops, EPRI is developing, demonstrating, or qualifying multiple advanced manufacturing methods for advanced energy applications, including: - Powder Metallurgy-Hot Isostatic Pressing (PM-HIP) - Directed Energy Deposition Additive Manufacturing (DED-AM) 1 EPRI, Charlotte, NC, USA 2 Supply Chain Challenges and Opportunities for Structural Components in Advanced Energy Systems: EPRI Workshop Summary, EPRI, Palo Alto, CA: 2022. 3002025254. https://www.epri.com/research/products/000000003002025254. 3 EPRI Supply Chain Workshop II for Structural Components in Advanced Energy Systems, EPRI, Palo Alto, CA: 2023. 3002027773. https://www.epri.com/research/products/000000003002027773. 4 EPRI Supply Chain Workshop for Structural Components in Advanced Energy Systems - April 10-11, 2024. https://www.epri.com/events/C49BF5D1-BAFC-416A-99E3-931912444AB2. 2 - Powder Bed Fusion AM (PBF) - Advanced Cladding Processes (e.g., diode laser cladding) - Electron Beam Welding (EBW) Contributions and lessons learned from these efforts can be readily applied to fusion applications to support adequate availability of materials and components for fusion systems.