It is the best time to be at JET right now” says a passionate Eva Belonohy. The member of JET’s Exploitation Unit has recently organised a very successful workshop (Read: DT-time at JET). It was aimed to ‘refresh’ the knowledge of European fusion researchers regarding the Joint European Torus (JET) but that was a classic understatement. The meeting was a fully-fledged overview on JET’s capabilities which have tremendously changed in the past. The tokamak has gone through major upgrades since it saw its first deuterium tritium campaign in 1997. Those include not only an ITER-like wall but also an increase of the heating power by 50 percent. Those are just a few facts which underline the importance of the Joint European Torus as the world’s most developed fusion experiment. The tokamak, located in Culham, England, is currently still the only one able to operate with the ‘real’ fusion fuel …. and presumably will be until ITER starts operating DT in 2035.
The renowned magazine ‘Nature’ has acknowledged the singularity of JET in an editorial in May this year pushing, between the lines, for funding after 2018 so that the planned European experimental campaign can still be carried out, although ‘Brexit’ is glooming.
Then there are the catchy claims of fusion start-ups which promise to achieve fusion energy within the next 15 years. Our Fuel For Thought author Scott L. Montgomery addresses those, among other challenges in fusion research, in his article ‘Wealth and Needs’. The advocate for fusion speaks out for an improved funding policy.
EUROfusion’s approach is stepwise. Its roadmap follows scientific milestones along the road to fusion power and, moreover, defines what happens after ITER – namely DEMO, the first demonstrational fusion power plant. DEMO requires a lot of preparation, tests and pilot studies as well as new research sites, for instance the Divertor Test Tokamak (DTT) facility. But it will be at the earliest in 2022 when the consortium decides about funding this new experiment (Read: The DTT question).
In the meantime, Fusion in Europe highlights the seemingly little research steps that, in the end, change a big machine. Such as ITER which is about to modify some valves thanks to the latest simulations of Wei Zhang. The postdoc, located at IPP Garching, has received the prize of the European Physical Society for his ITER-changing study. Indeed, he follows the European approach when asked about his secret of success: “Set yourself small goals and you will succeed.”