Press Release
Senator Joe Pennacchio Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26)
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Contact: Robbie Kenney / (609) 847-3600
February 10, 2020
Pennacchio Bill to Position NJ as the Leader in the Evolution of Clean, Safe Fusion Power Earns Senate Approval

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Initiates Scholarships for Scientists Specializing In Fusion Energy and Plasma Physics

Senator Joe Pennacchio’s legislation to help establish New Jersey as a trailblazer in fusion energy was endorsed by the Senate today.

Sen. Joe Pennacchio’s legislation that would provide scholarships to help attract top-level scientists to the fields of fission energy and plasma physics passed the Senate. (SenateNJ)

“The successful development of fusion as an affordable, efficient and eco-friendly source of energy would herald a new era of economic and scientific growth across the globe,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “New Jersey is the home of Princeton Physics Lab and a growing network of startups committed to making fusion power a reality. Just as California has its Silicon Valley, New Jersey could have its Fusion Epicenter if we play our cards right. This bill is a big step in that direction.”

To attract top-level scientists to the field, Pennacchio’s bill (S-296) requires New Jersey’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) to administer a scholarship program for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers studying or conducting research in fusion energy and plasma physics.

“For years, it was assumed the promise of fusion was decades in the future, but some experts now believe it could become a reality in as little as five years,” Pennacchio said. “This bill will ensure the most talented and promising scholars can pursue educational and career opportunities to help advance the limitless potential of fusion for safe, economical, and sustainable power for our long-term energy needs.”

Current nuclear plants generate power through fission, a process that splits uranium isotopes to start a chain reaction. Both the fuel and the waste are highly radioactive.

Fusion, on the other hand, is a nuclear reaction occurring when two light nuclei smash together and fuse, creating a heavier nucleus and releasing energy. Fusion produces only a fraction of the waste nuclear fission produces.

Under Pennacchio’s measure, 10 scholarships would be awarded annually for $12,500 each, and universities would be required to match the awards, providing student recipients with a total of $25,000 in aid.

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