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A US government agency has launched a new $30m programme to support alternative approaches to generating energy from nuclear fusion. The initiative has been created by the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), which falls under the auspices of the Department of Energy (DOE). In August, the DOE invited researchers to "develop and demonstrate low-cost tools to aid in the development of fusion power". Research teams need to outline their proposals by 14 October with three-year grants ranging from $250,000 to $10m up for grabs.

Fusion researchers have welcomed the new programme, which comes as fusion research in the US faces severe budget constraints. As one of seven partners in the €16bn ITER fusion project, the country has to provide 9% of the reactor's components – at a cost of $3.9bn – despite a flat overall national fusion budget, which has put a squeeze on domestic fusion facilities. Next year's budget is also far from certain after the White House recommended static spending, the House of Representatives called for an increase and the Senate even voted to kill the US contribution to ITER.

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