More than 15 fusion experiments are currently operating or under construction in Europe. Many of these are big machines that have required years of planning and financing. These machines are essential for training the next generations of fusion scientists, who will be needed to operate ITER and develop and build fusion power plants.
The experiments throughout Europe each have their own specialisation in certain aspects of fusion research, which allows for a diversity of experiments to be carried out, enabling the selection of an optimal configuration for a future power plant. In addition, engineering R & D is carried out on a number of technological facilities.
The Joint European Torus (JET)
JET, based in Culham, UK, is the central research facility of the European Fusion Programme, and the largest and most successful fusion experiment in the world. As a joint venture, JET is collectively used under EUROfusion management by more than 40 European laboratories. Over 350 scientists and engineers from all over Europe currently contribute to the JET programme. The operation of the JET Facilities is provided by the European Commission as an in-kind contribution to the EUROfusion Consortium via a contract with the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy.
Other fusion devices in Europe
The various tokamaks in the European fusion programme encompass a wide range of configurations, sizes, shape and heating systems, and so are able to explore a variety of operational scenarios. This provides for a greatly increased knowledge base for decision-making regarding future designs of fusion devices.
ASDEX Upgrade is run by IPP at Garching, Germany. It investigates ITER-relevant divertors, plasma-wall interactions and advanced operational scenarios. ASDEX Upgrade is one of three medium size tokamaks making experimental time directly available to EUROfusion.
The IPP.CR Research Unit in Prague, Czech Republic, hosts the COMPASS-D device, a spherical tokamak. It studies high-confinement operational scenarios (H-mode plasmas). COMPASS is the only tokamak located in the new EU countries and is expected to become a regional centre not only for research but also for training new scientists. IPP.CR also operates the small tokamak CASTOR.
The spherical tokamak MAST is situated at Culham in the UK and run by Culham Centre for Fusion Energy. Along with NSTX – a complementary experiment at Princeton in the USA – MAST is one of the world’s two leading spherical tokamaks (STs). MAST Upgrade is one of three medium size tokamaks making experimental time directly available to EUROfusion.
ENEA at Frascati in Italy operates FTU, a compact tokamak featuring high magnetic field and high plasma density at values close to ITER. The device also investigates new radio-frequency plasma heating techniques using electron cyclotron technology.
The Portuguese Research Unit IST operates ISTTOK, a small tokamak in Lisbon. It is used for fundamental physics studies, in particular developing theoretical descriptions of plasma and novel diagnostics.
TCV is a variable configuration tokamak for the study of differently shaped cross-sections of the plasma run by the EPFL/CRPP Research Unit in Lausanne, Switzerland. TCV is one of three medium size tokamaks making experimental time directly available to EUROfusion.
The French Research Unit CEA runs one of the largest tokamaks operating today: TORE SUPRA at Cadarache in France. This device is the first tokamak to use a series of superconducting coils to generate a permanent magnetic field. It can run long pulse plasmas on a regular basis and hence allows the exploration of new scientific questions in ITER-relevant conditions, such as erosion and hydrogen wall trapping, real time discharge control and performance optimisation. Tore Supra is currently being modified into WEST, the Tungsten (W) Environment in Steady-state Tokamak.
Stellarators offer potential for continuous operation are therefore an alternative concept for fusion power plants. The Fusion Roadmap therefore dedicates a seperate mission to stellarator research. One experiment is currently operated in Spain, while another one is under construction in Germany.
The advanced Stellarator Wendelstein 7-X is currently being commissioned IPP by IPP at Greifswald in Germany. It will test a magnetic field optimised to overcome the difficulties of previous stellarator concepts. The quality of plasma equilibrium and confinement will be comparable to that of a tokamak.
Reversed Field Pinch devices
Two Reversed Field Pinch devices (RFP) contribute to studies on achieving high-performance operation and controlling plasma modes.
EXTRAP-T2, sited at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, supports RFX by looking, in particular, at wall stabilisation: a situation where changes to some electrical properties of the chamber wall can affect the stabilisation of the plasma.
Linear fusion devices
Dutch Institute For Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER) at Nieuwegein, Netherlands, operates Magnum PSI, an experiment to investigate plasma-surface interactions.
Another linear plasma generator for studying plasma wall interactions, PSI-2, is operated by Forschungszentrum Jülich
Technology development and testing faciliaties
There are also a large number of other devices devoted to technological aspects of the fusion programme. These include:
MANTIS, which is a neutral beam test bed and FE 200, a thermal fatigue test facility using a 200kW electron gun, run by CEA in France and Framatome respectively.
SULTAN – a test facility for superconductor and joint samples, run by CRPP in Switzerland.
The divertor test and refurbishment platform DTP2 is run by TEKES and VTT in Tampere, Finland. Information about DTP2 can be found in Fusion News.