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Research Departments
Designing Proliferation-Resistant Fusion Reactors – Ideas for Developing an Effective and Just Nuclear Order for the Twenty-First Century (closed)


This project is a cooperation between the Darmstadt University of Technology and PRIF.


The project is directed by:

Prof. Dr Franz Fujara, Dept. of Physics of Darmstadt University of Technology

Dr Wolfgang Liebert, IANUS at Darmstadt University of Technology

Prof. Dr Klaus Dieter Wolf, PRIF and Institute of Political Science of Darmstadt University of Technology


Research associates are:

Dr. Matthias Englert, IANUS, Darmstadt University of Technology 

Giorgio Franceschini, PRIF and Institute of Political Science of Darmstadt University of Technology


Fusion energy might yield an important contribution to the global energy mix of the second half of the 21st century. Still, when commercial fusion reactors will start operation around 2050, a number of regulatory challenges will have to be addressed, both in the realm of safety, of environmental impact and with respect to nuclear non-proliferation. The latter aspect, a possible military dimension of future fusion reactors, is not on the radar of the (mainstream) security community.


Our project tries to quantify these risks, and to yield quantitative and qualitative estimates of weapon-grade material a fusion reactor could produce during normal operation.

A major research question of the project addresses regulatory options to prevent a non-peaceful use of fusion reactors: as we deal with an emerging technology, concepts of „anticipatory governance“ play a major role, which in the case of a fusion reactor translates into the demand to design the reactor in a proliferation-resistant manner and to implement safeguards against a military use from scratch (“safeguards by design“). Furthermore the projects identifies the major stakeholders, which should be involved in such a design of anticipatory governance: they comprise both states, international organizations (IAEA, EURATOM), but also non-state actors such as the nuclear industry, epistemic communities and civil society at large. All these actors will have a greater maneuvering room, if they are involved early on in the project of developing commercial fusion reactors, since the experience shows that nuclear regulations „ex-post“ are usually less effective and more difficult to implement than regulations, which were already conceived in the design phase. A wider perspective of the project is to develop ideas for a more just and effective nuclear order of the 21st century, especially in the light of a possible global „nuclear renaissance“.


Klaus Dieter Wolf
Research Fellows:
Giorgio Franceschini