TU/e launches MSc programme ‘Science and Technology of Nuclear Fusion’

Nuclear fusion, energy from hydrogen, the power of the stars. Clean, safe, for all and for ever… You know the slogans. But, the technology needed for fusion power plants is so complex that it will still take a few decades before fusion power will flow from the wall plug. However, the development of fusion power is progressing rapidly. Countries from around the globe are collaborating in the large proof-of-principle project ITER, presently under construction in the south of France. This development needs highly skilled engineers and scientists. The TU/e plans to provide part of that work force. The brand-new MSc programme ‘Science and Technology of Nuclear Fusion’ combines breadth and depth.

The programme is interdisciplinary, bringing together the departments of Applied Physics, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering. Moreover, the international development of fusion is done in worldwide collaboration, and already during their studies students participate in international teams, often in large research centres.
The MSc programme aims at delivering engineers that are at home in an international, multidisciplinary environment, have been trained to work in goal-oriented projects and have a good sense for the socio-economical aspects of the their work. With these characteristics, the ‘fusion masters’ will qualify for a career in a wide range of high-tech industries, as well as of course for the field of fusion energy.
The first cohort of students has started. Students choose this programme because of the extreme scientific and technological challenges, the long-term goal of clean energy, and the multidisciplinary, international character of the field.
Prof. Niek Lopes Cardozo, nuclear fusion professor at TU/e, says: “Presently, there are only a few countries in Europe which offer fusion education at the master level, mostly as a specialisation of a physics curriculum. The new MSc at the TU/e, which is the only dedicated 2-year programme, stands out because of its interdisciplinary character, and the combination of breadth and depth. The TU/e is coordinator of the European Fusion Education Network FuseNet.”

Nuclear Fusion and DIFFER
The target group for the ‘fusion’ master programme are both Dutch and international students, and with this unique curriculum, the TU/e sharpens its profile. Fusion is one of the four pillars of the Eindhoven Energy Institute, which shapes the TU/e strategic area ‘Energy’. This will be further strengthened when the FOM-Institute DIFFER (Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research) will move to the TU/e campus in 2015. DIFFER is the Dutch centre for research in the field of nuclear fusion, with whom the fusion group at the TU/e already closely collaborates. The TU/e is also partner in the consortium ‘ITER-NL’, in which it collaborates with TNO, FOM, NRG as well as a large number of companies in order shape the Dutch participation in the ITER project.

Nuclear Fusion and ITER
Nuclear fusion is the process in which two light nuclei  fuse to form a heavier nucleus. In this process a lot of energy is released. It is the fundamental energy source of the universe, i.e. of stars like the sun. The international test reactor ITER is a collaborative project of China, S-Korea, Japan, India, Russia, the USA, and the host Europe. The project, with a price tag of about 15 Billion Euro, is scheduled to start operation in 2020. It will deliver 500 MW of fusion power, 10 times the power needed to run the machine.