Introduction to Fusion Energy, the ITER Fusion Project, and the US Role in ITER

with David Rasmussen, US ITER
Friday, November 3, 2023, 10:10 – 11:00am 
1000 Torgersen

Fusion reactions power the sun and the stars. To achieve fusion power on earth, a fusion reactor requires a burning plasma, where plasma energy is maintained primarily by self-heating due to internal fusion reactions. The mission of the international ITER project is to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy, using strong magnetic fields to confine fusion fuels in a plasma state hotter than the sun. Fusion has the potential to yield carbon-free, abundant, safe energy that can be a major contributor to the US energy portfolio in the future. ITER will allow scientists to study reactor-scale burning plasmas and explore technical challenges related to the development of a power-producing fusion reactor. 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 partners are jointly responsible for the construction, operation, and decommissioning of this experimental fusion facility. The European Union, as host for the ITER facility, is responsible for 45% of ITER’s construction cost; the remaining partners contribute roughly 9% each. The facility is being assembled at St.-Paul-lez-Durance, France, using components fabricated in the United States and in other partner nations. The US contribution consists of R&D, hardware design, manufacturing, and delivery for 12 different ITER subsystems.

David Rasmussen is the senior advisor for US ITER, having served in multiple roles including most recently as head of fusion systems integration. He has more than 30 years of plasma science experience in diagnostics and technology for magnetic, inertial confinement, and plasma processing systems. David led the Plasma Technology and Applications Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Fusion Energy Division through 2012. In that role he led the development of plasma heating and fueling systems that have been deployed worldwide on fusion experiments. He has conducted plasma heating research at the Advanced Toroidal Facility, Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor, Compact Helical System stellarator, Wendelstein stellarator, DIII-D tokamak, and National Spherical Torus. From 1995 to 1997, he managed the semiconductor Plasma Processing Diagnostic Program at SEMATECH in Austin, Texas. Throughout his career at US ITER and other organizations, he has been committed to mentoring the next generation of fusion professionals, including interns and early career staff. David earned a bachelor’s degree in physics, a master’s degree in engineering-applied science, and a PhD in applied science plasma physics from the University of California, Davis.