Yesterday’s New York Times featured an op-ed by Stewart Prager, director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, on the future of nuclear fusion, which he describes as an abundant, safe and clean energy source that may be closer to becoming a reality than many think.

“Fusion energy generates zero greenhouse gases,” Prager writes. “It offers no chance of a catastrophic accident. It can be available to all nations, relying only on the Earth’s oceans. When commercialized, it will transform the world’s energy supply.

But, Prager notes. there’s a catch: making nuclear fusion work is one of the most difficult science and engineering challenges ever undertaken. “Among other challenges, it requires production and confinement of a hot gas — a plasma — with a temperature around 100 million degrees Celsius.”

A number of researchers affiliated with the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment  are collaborating with PPPL to overcome the  technical challenges of taming plasma. Bruce Koel, for example, is conducting investigations into surface science that will be of great interest, ultimately, to fusion research. Other Andlinger researchers working in the area of fusion include Alexander Glaser, Clarence Rowley, Howard Stone, Edgar Choueiri, and Emily Carter

Read the full Times article here.

Photo by Elle Starkman and Charles Skinner, courtesy Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory