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. Contributions to ITER are a DOE Office of Science Major Item of Equipment (MIE) project. The project consists of the procurement of hardware (including supporting R&D and design) and assignment of personnel (U.S. engineers and scientists) to the ITER site in Cadarache, France. Included are Field Teams in the ITER parties, and cash contributions to the ITER Organization for the U.S. share of common expenses such as personnel infrastructure, assembly and installation.
PPPL contributions to ITER have included delivery of three quarters of the components for the steady-state electrical network of the huge fusion energy experiment. The Laboratory also leads the design and construction of seven 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 the U.S. ITER Project Office at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The project is a collaboration of DOE laboratories, universities, and industry.
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.