Chair of House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development Observes Fusion Experiment and Speaks with Early Career Scientists

San Diego, August 18th – Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, visited General Atomics (GA) and toured the DIII-D National Fusion Facility. While at DIII-D, Rep. Kaptur met with early career scientists conducting research at DIII-D, observed a magnetic fusion experiment, and discussed the role of the facility in achieving the goals of the White House Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy and a fusion pilot plant.

“We were deeply honored to introduce Rep. Kaptur to the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in person,” said Dr. Anantha Krishnan, Senior Vice President of the Energy Group. “During her visit, she had a unique opportunity to observe some of the important research being conducted at DIII-D, and to see how hundreds of collaborating partners from around the world are working together to achieve the promise of fusion energy. We are grateful for the continued support from the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development under Rep. Kaptur’s leadership and look forward to many new discoveries on the road to commercial fusion energy.”

“DIII-D is a world-leading fusion research facility, and I am grateful to Rep. Kaptur for taking the time to see us in action,” said Dr. Richard Buttery, Director of the DIII-D National Fusion Facility. “Fusion is our best chance at affordable, safe, carbon-free electricity, and the people working at this facility are dedicating their lives to achieving what was once thought to be science fiction. DIII-D is working as an open user facility for the whole nation, to rapidly innovate the new solutions and technologies needed to realize this reality.”

Rep. Marcy Kaptur and Dr. Richard Buttery in the “Pit” of the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, overlooking a Neutral Beam Injector. Courtesy: General Atomics

“As Chair of the House Energy and Water Subcommittee, my focus in on delivering the investments that advance America’s full energy potential. By undertaking world-class research, the talented professionals at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility are closing key gaps and paving the way for a U.S. fusion pilot plant. I look forward to continuing to support the U.S. Department of Energy as we work to accelerate energy innovation for the road ahead,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.

DIII-D is the largest operating magnetic fusion research facility in the United States and is operated by GA for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The heart of the facility is a tokamak that uses powerful electromagnets to produce a doughnut-shaped magnetic bottle for confining a fusion plasma. Plasma is the fourth state of matter in which electrons are stripped from the atoms, producing a highly ionized “soup” of nuclei and electrons that can be controlled by magnetic fields. In DIII-D, plasma is routinely heated to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius, approximately 10 times hotter than the Sun. At such extremely high temperatures, and under enormous pressures created by the electromagnets, hydrogen isotopes fuse together to create helium and release energy.

During the visit, Rep. Kaptur received an overview of the DIII-D National Fusion Facility, its unique capabilities, and its mission. Dr. Buttery then gave Rep. Kaptur a tour of DIII-D, where she observed an experiment in the facility’s control room. While there, Kaptur spoke with some of the early career scientists and researchers studying fusion, including Dr. Kathreen Thome, a plasma physicist who studies how to improve the performance of fusion plasma scenarios. Dr. Thome and Rep. Kaptur discussed their mutual alma mater, University of Wisconsin-Madison, a school that has trained many plasma physicists in the United States and led them to successful careers at DIII-D.

Dr. Richard Buttery explains how fusion plasmas are created in front of the at-scale cross section of the DIII-D tokamak at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility. Joining Rep. Kaptur and Dr. Buttery were Dr. Anantha Krishnan and Dr. Wayne Solomon, Vice President of Magnetic Fusion Energy. Courtesy: General Atomics

After leaving the control room, Rep. Kaptur was shown the “Pit,” where she was able to see the DIII-D tokamak and a neutral beam injector up close, and learn about some of the recent upgrades implemented at DIII-D.

The successes of the DIII-D program have significantly influenced the design of ITER, an international project currently under construction in France. The mission of ITER is to demonstrate the viability of fusion as an energy source. At one-fourth the scale of ITER, the DIII-D program team maintains a comprehensive program of refurbishment, modernization, and system enhancements to keep the facility at the forefront of fusion science. This has made DIII-D one of the most productive tokamak facilities in the world, and a key resource for ensuring the success of ITER.

“When you look at the need for abundant and clean baseload energy, and options for ensuring energy security, it is clear we need a bold solution. Fusion is the answer,” added Dr. Buttery. “No matter how fusion is commercialized, the science and innovative solutions we are developing at DIII-D will be critical to ensuring its success. This is the biggest challenge in human history, and the stakes could not be higher.”

About General Atomics: Since the dawn of the atomic age, General Atomics innovations have advanced the state of the art across the full spectrum of science and technology – from nuclear energy and defense to medicine and high-performance computing. Behind a talented global team of scientists, engineers, and professionals, GA’s unique experience and capabilities continue to deliver safe, sustainable, economical, and innovative solutions to meet growing global demands.

 About the DIII-D National Fusion Facility. DIII-D is the largest magnetic fusion research facility in the U.S. and has been the site of numerous pioneering contributions to the development of fusion energy science. DIII-D continues the drive toward practical fusion energy with critical research conducted in collaboration with more than 600 scientists representing over 100 institutions worldwide. As a U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science User Facility, participation in DIII-D research is open to all interested parties. For more information, visit