Europe's nuclear fusion researchers have been granted access to the network of Europe's most powerful supercomputers, the European Commission has announced. The hope is that access to the immense processing power of DEISA ('Distributed European infrastructure for supercomputing applications') will enable scientists to carry out complex simulations of the processes taking place inside a fusion reactor. Researchers across Europe are working on the ITER project, which seeks to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power as a clean, safe and reliable source of energy. Fusion energy powers the sun and the stars; energy is released when two hydrogen atoms fuse to become a helium atom. (This is different from fission, or atom splitting, which is used in today's nuclear power plants.) A prototype fusion plant is currently being built in Cadarache, France. In addition to the EU, Japan, China, India, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the USA are partners in the initiative. Supercomputers have a vital role to play in this ambitious project. 'Large-scale simulations of nuclear fusion and material properties on cutting-edge supercomputers are essential to the operation and design of present and future fusion experiments,' commented Professor Frank Jenko of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany. 'European scientists working on fusion have already greatly benefited from European supercomputing services for several years,' added Dr Hermann Lederer of the German Supercomputing Centre RZG. 'Essential simulations can now be performed with the full power of modern supercomputers.' DEISA, which has received funding from the Sixth and Seventh Framework Programmes (FP6 and FP7), brings together Europe's leading national supercomputing centres, linking them together via the EU's high-bandwidth academic internet, GÉANT. 'We expect the new partnership between the supercomputing services of DEISA and the European nuclear fusion community to make an enormous contribution to nuclear fusion's potential as a viable energy source and power Europe's role in this quest. This shows how pooling its best scientists and infrastructures helps Europe's scientific community remain at the forefront of global research,' said Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media. 'The long relationship of trust between the most renowned national supercomputing centres and the Commission is now paying off in key areas of European research,' she added. 'Advancing the study of fusion power could bring us closer to a potential answer to Europe's energy needs.'