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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Harnessing Wisconsin Industry to Develop Materials and Fuel Breeding for Fusion Energy

Harnessing the enormous energy of the 14 MeV fusion neutron and closing the fuel cycle is one of the last remaining technical challenges for realizing fusion energy to address the climate crisis. Developing the materials that can withstand decades of neutron and ion bombardment as well as the design and testing of lithium containing blankets to breed the tritium isotope for fusion has not been possible simply because deuterium-tritium fusion sources have not been intense enough to test these components. Wisconsin industry partner Phoenix (PNL), a division of SHINE, has solved the problem of producing fusion neutrons at a level necessary to begin testing materials. This project creates a one-of-a-kind public-private partnership between the UW’s top-rated fusion energy program and PNL to design, construct and operate a national fusion facility based on PNL’s technology.  Program funds will be used to develop a conceptual facility design, pursue a tritium handling license, and engage with PNL on a proposal for a National User Facility, including planning for how UW faculty and external users will conduct experiments.


Paul Wilson, professor of engineering physics


Adrien Couet, professor of engineering physics

Cary Forest, professor of physics

Robert Paulos, director of the Physical Sciences Laboratory

Oliver Schmitz, professor of engineering physics


Jerry Kulcinski, professor emeritus of engineering physics


Phoenix, a division of SHINE