DOE 2013 Budget Request Would Cut 300 High Tech Jobs in Massachusetts

Posted by Rezwan Razani on Feb 29, 2012 at 11:04 AM
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Information from on the impacts of the 2013 Federal budget on the Alcator C-Mod.

Proposal Shuts Down Alcator C-Mod, an Essential Clean Energy Research Facility at MIT

Proposal Endangers U.S. National Fusion Effort

The DOE budget attempts to fund a committed $50 million U.S. contribution to the International ITER Fusion project by cutting American fusion programs.  The result is a broad set of cuts, the most serious of which is the termination of the MIT Alcator C-Mod experiment at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), one of only three major national magnetic fusion facilities. 

This untimely action would rob the domestic fusion program of a unique and essential resource critical to harnessing fusion as a practical energy source. Maintaining funding for C-Mod operations would cost ~$15M.

Impact on jobs:

Alcator supports 300 jobs, most in Massachusetts.  These include 120 research staff, faculty, engineers, technicians and research assistants (students).  Another 60-80 are subcontractors for materials and services.  Another 80-100 work to improve and maintain the facility.

Impact on education, workforce development and public outreach

Alcator is the largest single training facility for fusion science in America, including thirty graduate students. These are tomorrow’s leaders in energy research.   In addition, 15-20 MIT undergraduates participate in research projects each year.

Alcator introduces the state, national, and world public to Massachusetts leadership in fusion science and energy. Last year, more than 1300 visitors toured the facility. PSFC at MIT also supports a wide range of public outreach activities to thousands of students of all ages through on-site C-Mod tours and classroom visits. This program introduces fusion and plasma physics to more than 30,000 K-12 students a year! Developing future scientists and leaders is a core component of Alcator’s role.  

Impact on the Fusion Energy Program

Closing Alcator C-Mod would significantly hinder U.S. and global efforts to develop fusion energy.

Notable recent contributions include:

  1. World-leading program to study metal walls and divertors operating under conditions prototypical of a fusion power plant.
  2. Exploration of high-performance, steady-state plasmas with less thermal effect on the chamber walls.  These experiments address perhaps the most critical physics issue for any power plant, including ITER with severe implications for the success and cost of that international project.
  3. Development of heating and drive systems operating at the magnetic field, plasma density and RF frequencies prototypical of a fusion power plant.

Closing Alcator would mean loss of decades of accumulated fusion expertise now centered in Massachusetts. Equipment replacement cost in a future national fusion effort would be in excess of $200 million. The cost in leaders, present and future, cannot be reckoned in dollars.

More information can be found at:

Massachusetts vendors and subcontractors supported by about $6 million annually from Alcator include:

HC Stark - Newton

Cambridge Valve and Fitting, Inc. - Cambridge

Ramsay Welding - Woburn

Essex Engineering - Essex

Banner Industries - Danvers

TDF Metal Finishing, Co. - Danvers

Kinetic Systems - Roslindale

Allied Electronics - Wrenthem and Franklin

MKS - Wilmington, Andover and Methuen

Minuteman Controls - Wakefield, Andover and Lawrence

Toupin Rigging - Dracut

Turner Steel - Bridgewater

Grindco, LLC - Chelmsford

William’s Machine - Norwood


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