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Greenfield joins ORNL to bridge ITER, US fusion research

Chuck Greenfield, former assistant director of the DII-D National Fusion Program at General Atomics, has joined ORNL as ITER R&D Lead.
Chuck Greenfield, former assistant director of the DIII-D National Fusion Program at General Atomics, has joined ORNL as ITER R&D Lead. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Chuck Greenfield has joined the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory as ITER Research and Development lead for the Fusion Energy Division, or FED. He will be responsible for organizing and encouraging U.S. research in the international ITER project, now in assembly in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, France.

ITER is an unprecedented international collaboration of scientists and engineers working to design, construct, and assemble a burning plasma experiment that can demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion. As a member nation in the project, the U.S. has access to all ITER technology and data and has the right to propose and conduct experiments.

“The theoretical knowledge and technical information already developed for ITER can greatly benefit U.S.-based fusion energy research, including here at ORNL, where we are working on the development of a fusion pilot plant and next-generation fusion energy systems,” said Phil Snyder, interim FED director. “Chuck’s wealth of expertise and decades of experience in large-scale fusion projects will be vital in strengthening the connection between ITER and domestic fusion research as we look towards the future of fusion.”

As ITER R&D lead, Greenfield will build a framework for U.S. engineers, technologists, and physicists to participate in all phases of ITER commissioning, operation, and research, and establish a process for disseminating the accumulated knowledge from the project back to U.S. researchers. He will also be involved in the preparation of scenarios for operation, control, and risk mitigation when ITER is operational.

Greenfield has more than 35 years of experience in fusion energy research. He received his doctorate in nuclear engineering from the University of Washington before joining General Atomics in 1987. In 2012, he became assistant director of the DIII-D National Fusion Program, the largest magnetic fusion tokamak experiment in the U.S., operated by General Atomics for DOE’s Office of Science. He has also served as director of the U.S. Burning Plasma Organization, a national association of scientists and engineers researching magnetically confined fusion plasmas, since 2011.

"ORNL is a leading lab in the U.S. pushing toward fusion energy, with a great team working towards goals that I strongly resonate with," said Greenfield. "I look forward to working with my ORNL colleagues, in collaboration with US ITER and the public and private fusion communities, to make fusion a reality."

The United States’ contribution to ITER is coordinated by US ITER, a DOE Office of Science project managed by ORNL with partner labs Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and Savannah River National Laboratory.

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