Posted on: 21st May 2012

It is an exciting week for the fusion community – the Plasma Surface Interaction Conference – at which the much-anticipated results from JET’s ITER-Like Wall have a starring role.

For Dr Guy Matthews, leader of the ITER-Like Wall project, delivering the very first talk of the conference will be the culmination of many years of hard work. “It’s a moment I’ve looked forward to for a long time”, he says, “and it’s better than I could’ve hoped for. I have so many interesting and important new results, I’m spoiled for choice!”

“People thought it might be difficult to operate with the beryllium wall and tungsten divertor, and we might have trouble avoiding melt damage.” he continues. In an environment where tiny irregularities in design can have a major impact on the heat load, the stringent manufacturing tolerances for the new wall components – a mere 40 micrometers – have paid off. “We have had H-mode plasmas up to the power levels we used with the carbon wall, and the new machine has been extremely clean. Its low residual carbon levels have made plasmas very reproducible with really low fuel retention.”

The positive feelings are balanced by some new challenges – for example the plasma’s radiation characteristics are very different with the new wall – so Dr Matthews is not planning to rest on his laurels. “There are some issues, such as tungsten accumulation, which restrict JET’s operating conditions, but we are developing the tools to address them.” he says with a smile. It might mean more work, but you get the feeling he wouldn’t want it any other way.

About fifty papers on JET will be presented at the conference, which takes place in Aachen, Germany from May 21st to 25th. It is hosted by Forschungszentrum J├╝lich, which is a signatory to the European Fusion Development Agreement.