RSPE to work with Chinese scientists on fusion energy

Wednesday 12 April 2017

The ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering will work with the University of South China (USC) on fusion energy research, with the prospect of Australia providing China with its first plasma Stellarator device.

Energy pundits see nuclear fusion, which powers our sun and all stars in the Universe, as the Holy Grail – it has the potential to provide sustainable, zero-emission and relatively cheap power to grids.

Dr Cormac Corr, Director of the Australian Plasma Fusion Research Facility at ANU, said the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with USC was an important step towards developing a future energy source for the world.

"We're working towards making fusion a viable baseload power source by 2050, and Australia working closer with China on this technology will help to make this a reality," Dr Corr said.

After years of funding support from the Australian Government, ANU has developed strong technical expertise in a type of plasma fusion device called a stellarator, one of the two fusion devices that are most likely to be viable power sources.

ANU and USC will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Wednesday 12 April that will underpin a new fusion research relationship between Australia and China.

Dr Corr said Australia was poised to provide China with its first stellarator device.

"Australia will benefit from enhanced national investment, and for China the relationship will form the core of China’s first stellarator program," he said. 

"The agreement will be finalised in the next few months and will start with significant exchange of technical and academic personnel between the two institutions."

Professor Hanqing Wang, Chairman of the Council of USC and Professor Xueyu Gong, leader of the fusion program at USC are at ANU for the MoU signing.

China, the European Union, India, Korea, Russia, Japan and the United States are jointly funding the construction of the $30 billion ITER nuclear fusion demonstration facility in France that will start producing 500 megawatts of power by the late 2020s.

In September 2016, Australia became the first non-member state to enter a formal collaborative agreement with ITER.

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