A new player in the world of fusion was introduced at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in August 2019. NORTH, the NORdic Tokamak device, was inaugurated at DTU and it is expected to provide hands-on experience to physics and engineering students in all the aspects of creating a tokamak plasma. This small spherical tokamak—with a plasma major radius of 25 cm and a plasma volume of ~100 litres—is on permanent loan from fusion start-up Tokamak Energy LTD. to DTU. NORTH produced its first official plasma (7 seconds) at its inauguration at DTU on 23 August 2019, performing as expected.
On 19 July 2019, IPP Greifswald marked its 25th anniversary. Founded a quarter of a century ago, the site is home to the world’s largest stellarator, Wendelstein 7-X. The stellarator itself began operations in December 2015, and it is expected to be able to confine the 100-million-degree Celsius plasma discharges for up to 30 minutes. The aim is to demonstrate the possibility of continuous operation. Among other things, EUROfusion researchers are investigating the device to determine the suitability of a stellarator concept for a power plant.
Performance metrics of the ITER project obtained in June of 2019 showed that the project execution to First Plasma stood at 63 percent as of June 2019. More than 70 percent of the buildings and infrastructure required for First Plasma are in place on the ITER construction site in Saint Paul-lez-Durance, France. This was indeed great news for the whole fusion community, and for EUROfusion, which places ITER at the heart of its Roadmap.
SPIDER, the ion source prototype for ITER, probably had the best first birthday celebration possible! A year after its inauguration, SPIDER, housed in Padua Italy fired its first accelerated hydrogen beam.
SPIDER is the world’s most powerful negative ion source and will be exploited by the fusion community to understand key scientific aspects in the field of powerful heating systems. The knowledge acquired will be crucial when ITER begins operations. F4E, Consorzio RFX, ITER India, ITER Organization, together with approximately 120 companies, contribute to this experiment.
The achievement of the first hydrogen beam was celebrated by a commemorative strip by well-known cartoonist Stefano Intini.
Keeping with the comicstrip theme, the experiment was central to the plot of the September 2019 Italian edition of Mickey Mouse! Check out what how SPIDER features alongside beloved Topolino in “Topolino e il padrone del buio”
Today, we start looking back at the highlights of 2019 from the world of fusion research. And what better story to start with than the announcement from March: a piece on the future of JET operations. An agreement between the European Commission and the UK made sure that JET’s funding was secured till the end of 2020, regardless of the political climate.
EUROfusion’s flagship device and the world’s largest operational fusion research facility, JET, is crucial to the world of fusion research. Referred to occasionally as ‘little ITER’, JET is currently the only tokamak capable of operation with Deuterium-Tritium, the fusion fuel of the future. And with its ITER-like wall, and other diagnostics, the EUROfusion flagship serves as a test bed for ITER. The European Commission and the UK have signed a contract extension that will secure at least €100m from the EU over the next two years. You can go back and read the entire piece.