Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, believes that $25 million in federal dollars, requested by University of Utah officials to build a fusion center in Utah, is in the bag.
"You don't even get a blip in the budget unless you ask for $100 million," the senator told the Deseret News editorial board Thursday.Hatch, however, believes that Congress may be more willing to contribute money if an International Fusion Research Center were established in Salt Lake City - and not a National Solid State Fusion Institute established specifically at the U.
"It (the international center) could be at the U. - in Research Park or at Fort Douglas. That may even make it more certain that the U. gets the fort, although I think it will anyway," he said.
Placing an international flavor to the center would also encourage scientists from around the world, not just the United States, to come to Utah to study fusion and conduct research, Hatch said.
"This would really serve two purposes," he said. "It could unite scientists and draw on their expertise, while still promoting Utah as the headquarters." That, in turn, would benefit Utah financially, while usurping international fusion competition, he said.
Hatch, who Monday visited the cold nuclear fusion labs at the U. and at Brigham Young University, said under an "international center" - even if it is located at the U. - BYU and other universities may feel better about participating.
U. officials could still be in control of the international center - perhaps wearing two hats, Hatch said. But the link with the U. likely would be less obvious and thus more acceptable politically.
The bottom line, he said, is that senators from other states would look more favorably to funding an international center where scientists from their states could be involved.