Marco de Baar new director of DIFFER

Marco de Baar, professor and group leader at Plasma Fusion Operation and Control, has been appointed new director of NWO institute DIFFER, the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research. In mid-2020, he will succeed Richard van de Sanden, who will continue to work as DIFFER group leader in the theme Solar Fuels and will become the scientific director of the new Eindhoven Institute for Renewable Energy Systems.

photo Bart van Overbeeke

De Baar has been appointed as general director/scientific director of DIFFER for a period of two years. Since DIFFER’s building on the TU/e campus is currently closed due to corona-related measures, the starting date of the appointment will be decided in agreement with Marco de Baar and current director Van de Sanden. The aim is to make this effective as of July 1, 2020

De Baar knows DIFFER extremely well. He has been active as group leader since 2007 and as theme leader Fusion  Energy and member of the management team since 2014. De Baar will particularly give thought to DIFFER’s positioning in the field of national and international energy research. “DIFFER has so much to offer in terms of research and research infrastructure. The challenge will be to strengthen our international role in the highly diverse landscape of energy research.”

Besides his position at DIFFER, De Baar is a professor in the group Control Systems Technology of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at TU/e. As theme leader at DIFFER, he was the Dutch representative in EUROfusion, the European Consortium for the development of nuclear fusion by operating the ITER reactor and preparing for the demonstration reactor DEMO.

Powerful combination

De Baar describes himself as a physicist with a strong interest in control engineering. “A physicist wants to understand the very essence of a single phenomenon, whereas a control engineer tries to describe and optimize an entire system. These are two very different ways of tackling a problem, but they are enormously powerful if you know how to combine them. This is how we want to understand and control the fluctuating plasma in future fusion reactors. I look forward to further developing the combination of process and systems thinking at DIFFER in the themes Fusion Energy and Solar Fuels.”

NWO institute DIFFER carries out fundamental scientific research into materials, processes, and systems for worldwide sustainable energy infrastructure in close collaboration with Dutch and (inter)national academia and companies. DIFFER’s research is organized within the research themes Fusion Energy and Solar Fuels and contributes to the societal challenges in the areas of energy and sustainability.

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