Net-zero initiative launches online fusion forum

May 15, 2024, 7:05AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Ana Kova’s illustration of different types of fusion. (Image: Ana Kova/Global Fusion Forum)

The University of Michigan’s Fastest Path to Zero Initiative has launched the Global Fusion Forum, an online platform focused on fusion energy. It was created to foster international engagement and collaboration in the area of fusion technology.

The Fastest Path to Zero Initiative was established at the University of Michigan in 2019 as a collaboration between the university’s Energy Institute and its Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences (NERS). The initiative supports communities that are striving to reach ambitious climate goals; the Global Fusion Forum is one of its latest tools.

In a May 8 news release, NERS marketing and communications manager Sara Norman described the site as a place “where anyone can learn about fusion energy and offer their input as to how fusion energy systems should be developed and adopted.” Fastest Path to Zero acknowledges that different communities will have different needs when it comes to reaching climate goals. According to their website, “If it can help get us to zero, it’s on the table.” The new online forum aligns with this mission, creating a space for technology developers and communities to come together with a common goal.

Teamwork: The Global Fusion Forum is being led by Aditi Verma, an NERS assistant professor and Fastest Path team member. Verma is joined in the project by an interdisciplinary team that includes data scientists Gabrielle Hoelzle and Kevin Daley, senior research area specialist Andrea Morales Coto, technical communication lecturer Katie Snyder, University of Wisconsin–Madison assistant professor Steffi Diem, and science illustrator Ana Kova.

Getting it right: Verma explained why the forum was created: “Fusion energy systems are at an early stage of development. We developed this platform because we think it’s important for communities to understand this new energy technology and weigh in on how key decisions that would have socioeconomic and environmental impact should be made.”

She added, “Historically, technology developers have put off seeking this input until the late stages of development. With fusion being early enough in its development, we have a unique opportunity to get this process right and build trust with the public and communities from the earliest stages of creating this new energy technology.”

Engaging visuals: The forum, according to the news release, “will offer engaging visualizations and educational modules on fusion energy to make complex concepts accessible to a broader audience.”

Kova, a specialist in science illustration, visual narratives, and design strategy, said that her “goal as a visual communicator is to make meaningful knowledge more accessible.” She has amassed a portfolio of esteemed science and technology clients, such as CERN, DOE, Fermilab, Nature magazine, Symmetry magazine, Quanta magazine, Techstars, Quartz, and The Verge.

Kova especially enjoys working with fusion. “Fusion is one of my favorite science areas to illustrate because I’m very much inspired by what it represents: a vision of a future where we can have energy abundance without sacrificing our climate,” she said.

Range of participants: Fastest Path to Zero hopes that the forum will be useful for communities that already host energy facilities or are considering it the future. It will also allow for communities and people to address concerns and have their voices heard in matters of fusion energy.

The new Global Fusion Forum is intended for all, according to the release: “Anyone with an interest in science and technology advancements can discover a wealth of accessible resources and engagement opportunities. At the K-12 level, students, educators, and parents alike will find the forum an enriching space for learning and exploration.”

Getting started: If you’re interested in participating in Global Fusion Forum, click here to log in. A mobile device is recommended.

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