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Funds put MIT’s fusion research back on track

Senator Elizabeth Warren attended the restart of MIT’s Alcator C-mod fusion reactor Monday.David L Ryan/Globe Staff

With the push of a button Monday, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology resumed efforts to try to harness the process that powers the sun — nuclear fusion — in the hope of developing a stable, nonpolluting source of energy.

Researchers have been unable to conduct experiments and collect data since 2012, when funding for the project was cut.

With the money restored in the 2014 federal budget, signed recently by President Obama, MIT restarted the Alcator C-Mod, a mini fusion reactor housed at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center.

Earl Marmar, head of the Alcator project, said it will take three or four weeks to bring the system up to full power capable of heating hydrogen to more than 100 million degrees Celsius and creating a fusion reaction.