Fusion meeting of research and industry in Garching with premiere appearance of two start-up initiatives
Around 70 representatives from industry and research as well as from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) met on 8 December for the 2nd Forum FUSION Germany.
This time, the event was hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching. The new ITER Director-General Pietro Barabaschi was one of the participants. Two new German start-up initiatives presented their plans for the development of a commercial fusion power plant to the public for the first time.
FORUM Fusion Germany is a series of events that brings together representatives from public research and industry active in fusion. The organiser is the German Fusion Industrial Liaison Office (FILO), funded by the BMBF, on whose behalf FILO officer Heinz-Ullrich Kraft was able to welcome around 70 participants. At the second meeting of this kind, host Prof. Sibylle Günter, Scientific Director of the IPP, pointed out the enormous dynamics that the fusion industry is currently experiencing. With a total of more than four billion dollars, private investors in the USA are promoting merger start-ups. Dr. Peter Schroth, head of the department responsible for mergers at the BMBF, reported that the dynamics in the merger industry are perceived very positively in the ministry. He emphasised the importance of involving industry at an early stage on the path to a commercial fusion power plant.
Dr. Hans Altfeld, Head of the Project Control Office at the international fusion experiment ITER, which is currently under construction, reported on the current status of the project in southern France. He also explained how smaller German SMEs can successfully apply for contracts at ITER. In the further course of the event, an important topic was how smaller German companies can meet the requirements of the complex European tendering rules. Representatives of Fusion for Energy, the organisation that manages and coordinates the European contributions to ITER, commented on this.
Pietro Barabaschi, Director General of ITER since September, reported on how he is currently working on reorganising the project's organisational structure.
An industrial initiative for the construction of a commercial fusion power plant was presented in Garching to the public for the first time. Several European companies that have been developing and supplying technologies for fusion experiments for years founded Gauss Fusion GmbH for this purpose. They include Bruker, Research Instruments, Alsymex, ASG Supercoductors, and IDOM. "Technically we are a start-up, but de-facto it is an industry initiative of very experienced partners," Frank H. Laukien said, chairman of the board of Gauss Fusion and in his main job CEO of Bruker. "Our goal is to build a European fusion power plant in 20 years after a two-year analysis phase. "He is aiming for a public-private partnership with the best European research institutes. It is a matter of securing European energy independence.
IPP physicist Jorrit Lion presented a second start-up initiative: the IPP spin-off Proxima Fusion, which is currently being founded. In cooperation with IPP, the scientists involved want to create the design for an optimised stellarator that will lead to a commercially viable fusion power plant.
The next Forum Fusion will take place in Berlin on 5 June 2023.