Top officials of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science visited the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in February. The point of the visit was to discuss the Lab’s primary mission to develop fusion energy as a clean, green and carbonless energy source.
“It’s very exciting,” said Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, director of the DOE. “This is obviously a place that has a great history in plasma and in fusion science. It’s been awesome to visit and to talk to everyone and see the excitement it will bring.”
The officials visited several locales on and near campus, including the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade, PPPL’s primary fusion experiment, which could provide an attractive and affordable model for a fusion energy pilot plant. They also visited the Fusion Research and Technology Hub Test Cell — formerly known as the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) Test Cell — which is being repurposed as future laboratory space for collaborations with private companies. Finally the officials visited the Facility for Laboratory Reconnection Experiment (FLARE), which will study magnetic reconnection, the process responsible for solar flares and other astrophysical phenomena.
Steve Cowley, PPPL director, said that PPPL “has been at the heart of” fusion energy development. “Delivering that goal is something that motivates us,” he said. “This is the place that contributes to fusion research worldwide.”
PPPL is one of 10 national laboratories that are part of the Office of Science and one of 17 DOE national labs.