IPP Greifswald celebrates its 25th anniversary

From Bavaria to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania / Anniversary event and neighbourhood party

June 25, 2019

IPP Greifswald celebrates its 25th anniversary on 19 July 2019. It was founded a quarter of a century ago as the second site of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching, Bavaria. IPP Greifswald operates Wendelstein 7-X, the world's largest fusion device of the stellarator type.

Twenty-five years ago, on 19 July 1994, the State of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the Max Planck Society signed the framework agreement for the establishment of the IPP Branch in Greifswald. Here, more than 800 kilometres away from its parent institute in Garching in Bavaria, the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics set up a second site in the course of the ‚rebuilding of East Germany‘. Wendelstein 7-X, planned already from the 1980s, was to be built there – the world’s largest stellarator-type fusion facility.

The two IPP sites are pursuing the same goal at their different devices: a power plant that – like the sun – generates energy from the fusion of atomic nuclei. The fuel is an ionised hydrogen gas, a “plasma”. To ignite the fusion fire, it must be confined in magnetic fields with virtually no contact and heated to high temperatures of over 100 million degrees C. The ASDEX Upgrade research facility in Garching is developing the basics for a fusion power plant of the tokamak type; Wendelstein 7-X in Greifswald is to demonstrate the suitability of the stellarators for use in power plants.

Review and outlook
Steffie Schnoor, then Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, emphasized in 1994 when the agreement was signed that “The framework agreement that we are signing here today will integrate this young  state in the reunified Germany into the European research network and will strengthen Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania as a place to do research in the long term. Last but not least, a piece of German unity is being achieved right here today.” The then Federal Minister of Research, Dr. Paul Krüger, saw things in a similar light: “The harmonisation of living standards between East and West, i.e. also in the area of research and technology, is and will remain a priority.” The stellarator project would create a site for European research in Greifswald.

Two years later, the European Union confirmed that it would cover 45 percent of the investment costs, and the first contracts were put out to tender throughout Europe. In 2000, the institute moved from rented premises to the new institute building in Wendelsteinstraße. In parallel to the industrial production of the components, the assembly of the large-scale experiment began in 2005. After ten years and well over a million assembly hours, the construction of Wendelstein 7-X was completed. Numerous research institutes in Germany and abroad participated in this project. The investment costs borne to date by the state, federal and EU governments amount to about 400 million euros. Orders worth about 100 million euros were awarded to companies in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

In 2015, Wendelstein 7-X produced the first helium plasma, and in 2016 scientific experiments started with the first hydrogen plasma. Just one year later, Wendelstein 7-X set the stellarator world record for the fusion product. The upgrade of the facility, which is currently running for about two years, should make it possible to produce plasmas lasting up to thirty minutes instead of the ten to one hundred seconds achieved so far. This will make it possible to check whether Wendelstein 7-X can maintain a hot hydrogen plasma permanently. The aim is to demonstrate the great advantage of stellarators, the possibility of continuous operation.

“The hopes of the then IPP Director Professor Klaus Pinkau, who was a significant driving force behind the new site in Greifswald, have been fulfilled. The scientific success has come completely”, says project head Professor Thomas Klinger: “Wendelstein 7-X was launched as a national and European project. In the meantime, the facility has attracted international attention and cooperation partners from all over the world. The Wendelstein team includes more than 400 scientists, half of whom are from the laboratories of the European Fusion Research Programme, as well as from the USA, Japan and Australia.  

Isabella Milch



Journalists are cordially invited to the anniversary event on 19 July 2019 at 11 a.m. at the IPP in Greifswald. We will be happy to send you the programme: Tel. 089-3299-2607,

On the evening before, 18 July 2019 at 6 p.m., the IPP invites its neighbours in Greifswald and the surrounding area to join in the celebrations. The programme includes the science comedy group Physikanten & Co., a lecture on Wendelstein 7-X and a tour of the facility. Tickets for the event can be applied for until 8 July:
The winners will be notified by 12 July.

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