DOE awards University PPPL contract

Jan. 15, 2009 6:41 p.m.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Jan. 15 that Princeton University has been awarded a five-year management and operating contract to continue managing the DOE's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The contract runs from April 1, 2009, to March 31, 2014, with a 60-day transition period beginning this month, and with a provision that permits the University to earn up to five additional years of management of the lab.

"We are very pleased that the Department of Energy has selected Princeton University to continue to manage the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory," Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman said. "We are proud of the lab's accomplishments in the past, and we look forward to even greater accomplishments in the future. For many reasons it is more important than ever that we continue to make progress toward developing fusion as a safe, clean and sustainable source of energy."

Princeton has managed the plasma physics lab for more than 57 years.

"I'm delighted that DOE has continued to entrust PPPL's management to Princeton," said A.J. Stewart Smith, Princeton's dean for research, who managed Princeton's contract submission and has oversight of the lab. "PPPL is a world-class laboratory that continues to make leading contributions to the basic understanding of plasma physics and to the progress toward practical fusion energy. PPPL's accomplishments over many decades help Princeton attract outstanding scientists and graduate students, and stimulate the larger Princeton research community intellectually and technologically."

In making its award announcement, the Department of Energy stated in its release, "PPPL is the nation's leading laboratory for research in plasma physics and magnetic confinement fusion."

The director of the lab, Stewart Prager, will oversee management of the lab under the new contract.

"As a DOE national laboratory, PPPL enjoys the responsibility and opportunity to help define a fusion program for the U.S. that will rapidly advance us toward fusion energy, and return our country to the world forefront in this quest," said Prager, who was appointed by Princeton as the lab's director last fall and who will now assume his position at the lab. "Within PPPL, the planned upgrade to the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) will prepare the U.S. for possible large next steps in fusion energy, as NSTX confines plasmas at very high pressure in a relatively small volume."

Prager added, "At PPPL, we will also advance the fundamental understanding of the plasma state of matter, and apply that knowledge even beyond fusion, from plasmas used in industrial processes to plasmas in the universe."

PPPL is one of 10 national science laboratories funded by DOE's Office of Science. Princeton received extensions of its previous management contract, which ended Sept. 30, 2006, until the competitive bidding process for the current contract was complete.

The Department of Energy's contract announcement release is available online (.pdf).