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PPPL partners with China in an ambitious new center for fusion research

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has joined with five leading Chinese research institutions to form an international center to advance the development of fusion energy. Creators of the center organized its framework in March at a two-day session in Hefei, China, that brought together leaders of the world’s major fusion programs.

The new venture, called the Collaborative Innovation Center for Advanced Fusion Energy and Plasma Science (CIC), will promote cross-border lectures and workshops and joint experiments on fusion facilities in China and the United States. “This will provide another mechanism for strong collaboration with our partners in China,” said Michael Zarnstorff, PPPL deputy director for research, who will serve on the CIC science and technology committee that will guide the center’s research agenda.

The new venture seeks funding from the Chinese government under a program to establish up to 100 scientific enterprises at universities throughout China. Start-up funds for the center come from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), which houses the center and co-founded it last year with PPPL and the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute for Plasma Physics. Three more Chinese science and engineering institutions have since joined the venture.

Plans call for the center to build a world-class work force to advance fusion development in China. Research programs will stress innovation and contributions to ITER, the international fusion experiment under construction in France. Also planned are design and construction of the China Fusion Engineering Test Reactor, the country’s next-step fusion facility.

PPPL already partners with China on fusion and science-education programs. PPPL researchers collaborate in experiments on EAST, China’s main fusion facility, for example. Hong Qin, a principal research physicist at PPPL, is also a professor of physics at USTC and will head the new center’s science and technology committee.

PPPL participants in the center include PPPL Director Stewart Prager, who serves as deputy director of the cen- ter council, which functions as a board of directors. Re- tired PPPL physicist Dale Meade sits on the international advisory committee that will provide outside guidance to the center.

The new venture could speed the development of fusion in China, which aims to reduce its heavy reliance on coal to generate electricity. “A new fusion center anywhere in the world is a good thing,” said George “Hutch” Neilson, the head of advanced projects at PPPL and a member of the center’s science and technology committee. “A center like this serves to create more momentum for fusion.”

U.S. Department of Energy
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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