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Hope for Alcator C-Mod

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations met Wednesday to discuss the energy and water appropriations bill — the same one that proposed to cut funding to MIT’s Alcator C-Mod for fiscal year 2013.

Alcator C-Mod is MIT’s tokamak reactor, a toroidal plasma confinement fusion device that is a critical part of fusion research at MIT. It is one of only three such machines in the United States.

A recommendation from the Department of Energy suggested cuts for the domestic fusion program ­for FY 2013 — including Alcator. A statement to the committee from Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen suggests that Alcator may not be cut for next year.

“Funding for American innovation and competitiveness also receives priority treatment,” Frelinghuysen said, “Within science research, funding for the domestic fusion program is restored to last year’s level, and the international fusion program is increased to come closer to our commitments.”

The budget for nuclear energy will remain at last year’s level of about $90 million, he said.

While this statement does not guarantee that C-Mod will be around next year, there seems to be a chance.

—Jessica J. Pourian