EUROfusion Engineering Grants for fifteen innovative researchers

Article by Gieljan de Vries

The EEGs aim to attract top engineering talent by granting early-career engineers the opportunity to work on key technological challenges and develop skills that are essential to the European fusion programme.


Fusion energy holds the promise of providing safe, sustainable and low-carbon baseload energy that complements other clean energy sources like solar and wind. Realising fusion means solving many science, engineering and technology challenges in a comprehensive research programme.

In Europe, the EUROfusion research consortium takes up the fusion challenge with its strongly goal-oriented Roadmap to Fusion Energy. By involving talented young engineers in its research, EUROfusion accelerates its progress towards the scientific exploitation of ITER and developing the European demonstration fusion power plant EU DEMO.

EUROfusion’s governing body, the General Assembly, approved fifteen EEG grants to the top fifteen proposals in its December meeting. The EEG selection was based on the recommendations of the experts in the ERG evaluation panel. EEG recipients will dive into topics such as developing and monitoring materials for the harsh conditions in a fusion device, novel designs for components directly facing the plasma, end-of-life recommendations for nuclear waste, and more.

Attracting and developing excellent fusion engineers

As Europe's fusion research community, EUROfusion is highly committed to developing a workforce capable of solving the physics and engineering challenges towards a fusion power plant. The EUROfusion Engineering Grants support excellent early-career engineers as they hone their skills on key technological questions for the development of fusion energy.

The EEG are awarded at a post-master and post-doctoral level and cover the salaries of recipients and part of the cost of their research activities and missions for up to 3 years. Recipients will also participate in the new Joint Training Programme to develop skills and competences, increase their visibility and build up their fusion networks.

EEG recipients awarded to start in 2022

Vincenzo Narcisi
Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile (ENEA), Italy

EU DEMO coolant purification system

The coolant purification system (CPS) is fundamental for tritium control in primary coolant. This EEG aims at developing solutions for tritium removal and processing from possible coolant medium (water and helium). The activity will face integration aspects among the CPS, the tritium plant, and the primary heat transfer system.


Imre Katona
Centre for Energy Research (EK-CER), Hungary

Development of Optical Diagnostics for ITER and EU DEMO

The overall objective of the Work Programme is that the candidate acquires a strong background in optical fusion diagnostic technologies. The training encompasses studying diagnostics on present-day experiments, reactor relevant problems by participating in ITER diagnostic development and finally designing EU DEMO optical diagnostics in the Eurofusion WPDC project.


Federico D'Isa
Consorzio RFX, Italy

Thomson Scattering
The trainee, based at Consorzio RFX, will work on the development and commissioning of Thomson scattering (TS) diagnostics for JT60-SA tokamak, within a joint EU-Japan collaboration, and on progressing advanced TS techniques. Full knowledge and control of the TS systems will be gained, essential for a profitable scientific exploitation of the diagnostics.


Jelle Slief
Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER), the Netherlands

Development of software tools for ECH exploitation (JT-60SA and ITER)

Of vital importance for ITER is the ECRH heating system (electron cyclotron resonant heating) which uses microwaves to heat the fusion fuel and sustain the fusion conditions. This proposal develops the necessary software tools to control and monitor the system during its lifetime to guarantee safe and reliable operation.


Federica Dematté
École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland

High Current Conductors for EU DEMO Magnets
This EUROfusion Engineering Grant will focus on lowering significantly the discharge voltage of DEMO TF coils to avoid insulation degradation and preserve magnet integrity. This will be done by increasing the operating current above 100kA, thus reducing the coil inductance. For the first time such high current conductors will be produced and tested.


Erwan Grelier
Fresnel Institute / Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives (CEA), France

Development of Infra-Red monitoring system using artificial intelligence techniques in view of ITER application
Automatized wall monitoring is becoming a key asset in the operation of fusion machines, as their performance increases toward steady state power operation. The proposal contributes to the goal of automatized wall monitoring by developing an artificial intelligence based system for the processing of thermal images of the vessel’s interior.


Laurent Krier
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany

Advanced control of gyrotrons for heating, plasma stabilization and diagnostics
Intelligent control of megawatt-class gyrotron oscillators used for Electron Cyclotron heating offers operation at highest possible output power and efficiency close to the stability limit. It allows for accurate phase-/frequency control of gyrotrons for e.g. Collective Thomson Scattering diagnostics. Finally, it might enable completely new applications, such as direct ion heating using beat waves of two frequency-controlled gyrotrons. World-leading W7-X EC heating system will be used to implement those new control systems and to investigate all those exciting possible applications.


Mathias Jetter
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany

A methodology for cracks tolerance assessment in irradiation embrittled EUROFER Reduced Activation Ferritic Martensitic (RAFM) Steel
In-Vessel Components of fusion power plants experience non-homogeneous irradiation embrittlement resulting over short distance in change of material behaviour from brittle to ductile which significantly influences propagation/arrest of a crack postulated for fracture assessment. The aim is a Finite Element simulation approach combining experimental testing with modelling for defect assessment in partly embrittled components.


Sander Van den Kerkhof
KU Leuven, Belgium

Numerical optimization for advanced divertor engineering design with SOLPS-ITER
In this project, a framework for constrained divertor shape and magnetic field optimization in SOLPS-ITER is developed, based on efficient adjoint and augmented Lagrangian techniques. This provides the fusion community with an automated tool to significantly accelerate the design process of divertors for next-generation reactors, ensuring feasible and optimal designs.


Bartłomiej Jabłoński
Lodz University of Technology (TUL), Poland

Development of Infra-Red monitoring system using artificial intelligence techniques in view of ITER application
My proposal concerns the research and development of efficient real-time image processing algorithms and adaptive artificial intelligence models for machine protection and control with infrared diagnostics. The primary objective is to facilitate longer plasma discharges based upon the W7-X stellarator and the WEST tokamak devices for future application in ITER.


Alexander Feichtmayer
Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP), Germany

Test technologies for the characterization of in situ irradiation effects under applied loading conditions
The aim of this project is to investigate the synergistic effects of irradiation damage, hydrogen retention and mechanical stress on the mechanical properties of tungsten. Therefore, in-situ experiments are performed on thin tungsten wires, during irradiation with high-energy ions and simultaneous loading with low-energy hydrogen.


Priti Kanth
UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), UK

EU DEMO Nuclear Waste Management
The project aims to develop a software tool for EU DEMO waste management studies, which includes end-of-life recommendations for radioactive waste, identification of possible routes for recycling or repurposing low-level waste, providing guidelines for detritiation and tritium recovery methods, and evaluation of waste consequences for accident scenarios.


Leon Bogdanović
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (ULFME)

Refactoring and deployment of the TOKES tokamak plasma transient code

This project aims to uptake TOKES, a code suited for the simulation of fast transient heat loads on tokamak PFC. It will be refactored and deployed to HPC environments with IMAS. Specific engineering use cases and benchmarks against experiments in plasma gun facilities are planned.


Andrea Quartararo
University of Palermo, Italy

Novel EU DEMO Divertor Concept Solutions for Simplified Maintenance and Exchange
The research will be focused on the investigation of novel solutions to optimize the design of EU DEMO divertor Plasma-Facing Components (PFC), easing their replacement. This will be pursued following a multiphysics approach, developing new monoblock-based PFC designs, and investigating new solutions inspired by Thermoelectric Magneto-Hydrodynamics and/or Heat Pipe target concepts.


Andris Freimanis
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Finland

A methodology for cracks tolerance assessment in irradiation embrittled EUROFER Reduced Activation Ferritic Martensitic (RAFM) Steel
The next step in fusion reactors is the EU DEMO power plant. We, however, don’t fully understand the crack tolerances of irradiated steel components. This project studies the steel cracking at the microscale - which defines material behaviour – and develops structural scale computational tools, crack assessment methodologies, and design rules to review EU DEMO designs for safe operation.