Posted on: 25th June 2008
JET, the current largest operating fusion experiment in the world, came to life with the first plasmaon June 25 1983. On that day the plasma current (which characterises the confinement properties of the machine) reached 16 kiloamps, and JET went on to achieve one mega-amp (1MA) only a few months later. The preceding five years of frantic construction had made it possible for the JET Team to start, on that very day full of suspense and expectation, the process which opened the way for a string of successes and achievements. Two examples illustrate the milestones set by JET in International Fusion Research :
- in 1991 the first ever experiment in a Tokamak using the fuel mixture (deuterium-tritium) to be used in a future full-scale fusion reactor, where 2 MW of fusion power was produced
- in 1997 the world record in fusion power production (16 MW)JET has been operating with plasma currents up to 7 MA, with values of around 4 MA routinely being achieved. In 2005 the decision was made to build ITER, the next step experimental reactor. The mission of ITER is to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion power production (this includes the production of 500 MW of fusion power with a power amplification factor of 10). JET is the physics model for ITER and, without its results, ITER would not have been possible. Today, JET continues to play a major role in supporting ITER construction and operation, as clearly defined within the “JET Programme in support of ITER. Since 2006 JET has operated with ITER-like plasma shapes and, in the near future, experiments are foreseen with the same combination of materials for plasma-facing components as in ITER. This should deliver answers to urgent plasma-surface interaction questions, such as tritium retention, and provide operational experience in steady and transient conditions with ITER wall materials under relevant geometry and relevant plasma conditions.