The development of fusion energy has led to many important spinoff technologies that are being used around the world, including the GA-developed Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), which leveraged expertise from the DIII-D National Fusion Facility. The U.S. Navy is using EMALS on the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and GA is under contract to deliver EMALS on all future Ford-class aircraft carriers.
Funding for research in nuclear fusion was fully restored by Congress in the omnibus spending bill, reversing what supporters feared might be declining interest in the research. An executive of General Atomics said during his March 6 testimony in Congress that he sensed a new attitude toward fusion science.
Theresa Wilks has come full circle, at least geographically. After receiving an MS and PhD from Georgia Tech, she returned to her home state of California in 2016 as an MIT postdoctoral associate doing fusion energy research at the DIII-D tokamak. Her research is part of a growing collaboration MIT has with DIII-D, a national user facility in San Diego operated by General Atomics.
After months of doubt, the federal government has agreed to boost 2018 funding for the U.S. share of the world’s largest and most ambitious nuclear fusion project. That means what may be the endeavor’s most important piece — a massive magnet being assembled by San Diego-based General Atomics — will continue this year without interruption.
Dr. Mickey Wade, director of advanced fusion systems, Magnetic Fusion Energy Division, for General Atomics, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy at a hearing on The Future of U.S. Fusion Energy Research.