The ITER project is being designed and built by seven partners: China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States. The ITER Agreement, signed November 21, 2006, and in force October 24, 2007, established a membership duration of 35 years for the participating partners. The Members have divided the scope and are strongly mutually dependent, sharing the work and the benefits. U.S. participation in the ITER Agreement is essential to ITER’s success.
PPPL is designing and building diagnostic equipment and developing scientific data and software coding for the international facility. (See below.)
At right: Photo of a sector of the ITER vacuum vessel that will confine the plasma that fuels fusion reactions
What is ITER?
ITER (Latin for "the way") will play a critical role advancing the worldwide availability of energy from fusion — the power source of the sun and the stars.
To produce practical amounts of fusion power on earth, heavy forms, or isotopes, of hydrogen are joined together at high temperature with an accompanying production of heat energy. The fuel must be held at a temperature of over 100 million degrees Celsius. At these high temperatures, the electrons are detached from the nuclei of the atoms, in a state of matter called plasma. The nuclei are then brought together to release enormous amounts of energy.
U.S. and PPPL Contributions to ITER
U.S. ITER is a DOE Office of Science Fusion Energy Sciences project. As an ITER member, the United States receives full access to all ITER-developed technology and scientific data, but bears less than 10% of the total construction cost. Most of U.S. ITER funding for hardware contributions goes to U.S. industry, universities and national laboratories.
The U.S. contribution consists of R&D, hardware design and manufacturing for 12 essential ITER systems, plus financial support for common construction and operations expenses. As of December 2023, $1.4B has been awarded to U.S. industries and universities and obligated to DOE national laboratories in 46 states plus the District of Columbia.
PPPL successfully delivered 75% of the components for the steady-state electrical network of the huge fusion energy experiment in 2017. The Laboratory has also been leading the design and construction of six diagnostics that will analyze the behavior of ITER plasmas. PPPL physicist Richard Hawryluk, a major contributor to fusion research, served as ITER Deputy Director-General from 2011 to 2013.
All U.S. ITER project activities are managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in partnership with PPPL and Savannah River National Laboratory.
Visit the ITER website and the U.S. ITER website.
Other Devices and Collaborations
PPPL scientists have been a part of international tokamak collaborations since the Lab's inception. We participate in the day-to-day-operation of major devices, including DIII-D in San Diego, EAST in China, JET in the United Kingdom, KSTAR in South Korea, the LHD in Japan, and the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) device in Germany.
We are, for example, the leading U.S. collaborator on the W7-X project and have designed and delivered a set of magnetic coils that fine-tune the shape of the plasma in fusion experiments. We have conducted lithium-coating experiments to prevent the loss of heat on the EAST and KSTAR tokamaks and have stationed physicists at DIII-D to plan and conduct experiments.
We also actively participate in the DOE’s Innovation Network for Fusion Energy’s (INFUSE) program that facilitates collaboration between national laboratories and U.S. industries to speed the development on Earth of the fusion energy that powers the sun and stars. PPPL has collaborated in nine public-private ventures since INFUSE began in 2019, contributing its world class computing, experimental and engineering expertise to five private fusion developers in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.