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ITER fuel: High tech and smart people

-Sabina Griffith

Osamu Motojima, Director-General of the ITER Organization, attending the reception on Capitol Hill. (Click to view larger version...)
Osamu Motojima, Director-General of the ITER Organization, attending the reception on Capitol Hill.
While on Capitol Hill in Washington the Federal Budget (and thus the budgets for many American scientific endeavors) was eagerly disputed this week, only a stone's throw away in the Rayburn Building the ITER project stepped onto an exceptional stage by inviting members of the US Congress to an evening reception.

Amongst the guests that evening was Congressman Rush Holt from New Jersey, introduced as having "a long history in fusion" by Thom Mason, Director of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). "A long history...and I hope a future too!" countered Holt.

From left to right: Stewart Prager; Ned Sauthoff; Ed Synakowski; Bill Brinkman; Osamu Motojima, Thom Mason and Terry Michalske (Click to view larger version...)
From left to right: Stewart Prager; Ned Sauthoff; Ed Synakowski; Bill Brinkman; Osamu Motojima, Thom Mason and Terry Michalske
The evening reception was hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and its partners in the U.S. ITER project: Stewart Prager, Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and Terry Michalske, Director of the Savannah River National Laboratory. The event gathered many key people within the US fusion community such as William Brinkman, the Director of the Office of Science within the Department of Energy; Ed Synakowski, the Associate Director for Fusion Energy Sciences within the Office of Science; U.S. ITER Project Director, Ned Sauthoff; Fusion Power Associates Dale Meade and Stephen Dean; representatives from US ITER suppliers AREVA Federal Services, Luvata Waterbury and Oxford Superconducting Technology USA; and - last but not least - the Director-General of the ITER Organization, Osamu Motojima.

Thomas Vanek, from the US Department of Energy, welcoming guests to the reception. (Click to view larger version...)
Thomas Vanek, from the US Department of Energy, welcoming guests to the reception.
The gathering aimed to "provide the delegates with information about the ITER project and the important role of the United States in this next step toward fusion energy as a power source". As Thom Mason put it: "ITER is a challenging project fuelled by high tech and smart brains. A project that will move us toward a promising long-term solution to the energy challenge. Fusion energy has the potential to be a major contributor to the global supply of energy."

The total budget for the U.S. ITER project is $2.2 billion, or about 9% of the total cost of ITER, Mason pointed out. "In return, we will have access to 100% of the technology and research benefits of ITER. We are gaining experience in the design, construction, and operation of a reactor-scale fusion facility."

So far, the U.S. ITER project has awarded more than $90 million in procurements to U.S. industry and universities; U.S. industry is also winning contracts to supply other ITER Members. "Together," Mason said, "we are playing an essential role in an extraordinary international research partnership."


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