South Korea Plans its Fusion Demo, With Help from Princeton
January 5, 2013 • 10:54AM

South Korea's National Fusion Research Institute (NRFI) is developing a conceptual design for its K-DEMO fusion machine, which will be its last step before construction of a commercial magnetic fusion power plant. K-DEMO will be Korea's follow-on to the international ITER tokamak fusion experiment, which is under construction in France, designed to produce 500 Megawatts of fusion power, when it is completed in the 2020s. K-DEMO (the "K" is for "Korea") is a two-stage project, designed to produce 1,000MW of electricity from fusion. It will be comparable in size to ITER, a seven-story tokamak, and would be completed in the 2030s. K-DEMO benefits from the successful research on Korea's superconducting K-STAR tokamak, which is described in an interview with NFRI head, Dr. Gyung-Su Lee, in the Dec. 4, 2009 EIR. K-STAR benefited from cooperation with the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in the design phase in the 1990s, and Princeton scientists participate in experiments on that machine. Now, Princeton scientists will also collaborate on K-DEMO.

The initial collaborative agreement on K-DEMO is the fruit of six months of planning, according to Princeton. The plan calls for PPPL to provide engineering analysis of the Korean design, beginning this month. Princeton will be able to use the agreement to explore cutting-edge designs and technologies for fusion, and South Korea will gain access to Princeton's experience in designing and engineering fusion test facilities. As the project progresses, it is expected the collaboration with Princeton will continue.

This move to plan a demonstration reactor in South Korea stands in stark contrast to what Princeton scientists and the rest of the U.S. fusion program face, should nothing in Washington change. The Obama Administration's proposed FY13 budget cut $50 million from U.S. fusion research, which would leave more than one hundred scientists no chance to do leading-edge fusion research, except in South Korea or China.