Research for new energy

Research for new energy

The development of a sustainable energy supply on a global scale is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. The Max Planck Society is cooperating in this venture with the prestigious Princeton University in the US.

Several Max Planck institutes are involved in the Center’s collaborative efforts with the renowned Princeton University. “In the area of fusion research, in particular, it is essential that we pool our resources and knowledge,” stresses Max Planck President Peter Gruss. “This is the only way that we can develop nuclear fusion into something that the world requires very urgently for the years to come: safe, clean energy technology with sufficient baseload capacity.”

The Center’s partners in the area of fusion research are the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching and Greifswald (IPP) and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). The MPIs for Solar System Research (Katlenburg-Lindau) and Astrophysics (Garching) and the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University are also involved in the area of astrophysics. “The aim of the collaboration is to make greater use of the synergies between fusion research and astrophysics,” says Sibylle Günter, Director at the MPI for Plasma Physics. It has emerged that many methods developed by fusion research are also applicable in the field of astrophysics. At the same time, shared insights into fusion and astrophysical plasmas will be used in the further development of the theoretical models, and will advance the research on fusion power as a practically exploitable energy source.

Together with Stewart Prager from the PPPL and Jim Stone from the Faculty of Astrophysical Sciences, Sibylle Günter is part of the Leading Team of the Max Planck Princeton Center. Also involved are IPP Directors Per Helander and Thomas Klinger, Sami Solanki from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and Simon White from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.

All of the partners on both the German and American sides have extensive experience in the fields of fusion research and astrophysics, and they complement each other in a variety of ways. The IPP runs a Tokamak experiment (ASDEX Upgrade) in Garching, which is based on the design of the international nuclear fusion test reactor ITER. The IPP researchers in Greifswald are building the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator in Greifswald and the PPPL is already contributing hardware to this project. Günter assumes that this cooperation will further intensify with the establishment of the Center, as the PPPL is very interested in stellarator physics but does not have its own experiment. The PPPL, a leading institute in the field of fusion research in the US, operates a spherical tokamak (NSTX) and performs laboratory experiments on general plasma physics, on which work is also carried out in Greifswald. In the context of the Center, the partners from the Max Planck Society and Princeton University would like to exploit the experimental systems jointly and develop new theoretical models and codes.

Picture: The Tokamak test fusion reactor (NSTX) is the experimental centerpiece of fusion research in Princeton. ©PPPL

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