Ten outstanding scientists receive EUROfusion Researcher Grants

Article by Gieljan de Vries

ERG grants enable early-career researchers to develop innovative ideas and techniques to advance EUROfusion's Roadmap to Fusion Energy.

 

The EUROfusion consortium for the realisation of fusion energy has awarded ten EUROfusion Researcher Grants (ERG) to talented post-doctoral researchers across Europe. The ERG grants enable early-career researchers to develop innovative ideas and techniques to advance EUROfusion's Roadmap to Fusion Energy.

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 excellent young scientists and their innovative ideas in its research, EUROfusion accelerates its progress towards the scientific exploitation of ITER and developing the European demonstration fusion power plant EU DEMO.

ERG grants: supporting excellent fusion researchers

The EUROfusion Researcher Grants programme supports excellent scientists at the post-doctoral level in their career development. 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.

EUROfusion’s governing body, the General Assembly, approved the ten highest-scoring proposals to receive an ERG grant in its December meeting. The ERG selection was based on the recommendations of the experts in the ERG evaluation panel. ERG recipients will dive into topics such as novel superconductor technologies, determining impurities flowing into the plasma, predicting unwanted energy outbursts from the fusion plasma and more.

The ERG grants cover the salaries of the selected candidates and part of the cost of their research activities and missions for up to 2 years.

ERG recipients awarded to start in 2022

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

Low cost chemical routes towards iron-based coated conductors
The outstanding transport properties and simple structures displayed by iron-based superconductors (IBSCs) make them possible game changers in the exploitation of superconductivity for nuclear fusion applications. This project aims to develop new low-cost, chemical methodologies for the integration of IBSCs in the state-of-the-art conductor technology, with significant economical advantages.

 

 

Aaron Ho
Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER), the Netherlands

Tokamak simulation pipeline for large-scale turbulent transport model validation

This proposal investigates the predictive capabilities and boundaries of the turbulent transport components of the JINTRAC-IMAS tokamak plasma simulator, a crucial preparatory step towards its use in ITER analysis. This involves setup automation and large-scale validation against previous plasma experiments, providing additional focus for model development within the EUROfusion community.

 

Stephan Ertmer
Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ), Germany

Untangling the atomic data of W I using passive and laser-assisted spectroscopy
Passive and laser-assisted spectroscopy shall be used to reduce the uncertainty within the initial atomic level population distribution of sputtered tungsten as well as its energy and angular distribution. These are crucial parameters for the determination of the tungsten flux from the reactor wall into the fusion plasma.

 

 

Luis Gil
Instituto de Plasmas e Fusão Nuclear (IPFN) and Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), Portugal

Towards a physics-based understanding of the EDA H-mode
This project will develop and study the EDA H-mode in several European tokamaks, namely AUG, TCV and JET. Dedicated experiments, data analysis and modelling will advance the physics understanding of this promising ELM-free regime, allowing a more reliable assessment of its compatibility with future reactors such as ITER and EU DEMO.

 

 

Andres Cathey
Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP), Germany

Non-linear extended MHD simulations of small- and no-ELM regimes in tokamaks to reveal underlying physics and assess applicability in larger devices
Tokamaks are often characterised by repetitive events that expel hot plasma towards the material walls. Fusion power plants will not be able to handle such heat loads and, therefore, must be avoided. This project investigates, aided by high performance computing simulations, regimes of operation that completely avoid such destructive events.

 

 

Ou Pan
Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP), Germany

Highly dissipative divertor regime towards EU DEMO
The proposal aims to predict the performance of highly dissipative divertor regime in alternative divertor configurations in EU DEMO, which is a potential solution for the critical power exhaust problem in future fusion reactors, utilizing numerical simulations based on experiments and modelling in present-day devices.

 

 

Mads Senstius
Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Denmark

Assessment of nonlinear degradation of electron Bernstein wave heating in MAST Upgrade
Heating high density plasmas efficiently is challenging. Microwave schemes involving electron Bernstein waves are promising at low power but may be subject to nonlinear wave interactions during high power operation planned at MAST Upgrade. This project aims to assess the impact of such nonlinear wave effects in MAST Upgrade.

 

 

Raheesty Nem
Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Denmark

New Thermography system for heat load measurements in ITER-like ELM-free plasma on ASDEX Upgrade
The new infrared thermography system at ASDEX Upgrade aims to improve the understanding of steady-state power load on the divertor tiles in ITER-relevant plasma scenarios with high density plasma. This diagnostics measures the heat load on the divertor manipulator, allowing direct measurements on ITER mono-blocks that will be tested.

 

 

Riccardo Rossi
Tor Vergata University, Italy

Development and implementation of a physics-based multi-machine plasma instability detection and classification system for disruption avoidance, prevention, and mitigation
Disruptions remain a potential showstopper on the route to developing commercial tokamak reactors. The prediction of their occurrence is a prerequisite of any avoidance or mitigation action. The research on predictors, based on artificial intelligence and including essential disruption physics is, therefore, a strategic priority of the international community.

 

 

Alexandra Dudkovskaia
York Plasma Institute, University of York (UK)

Kinetic theory of MHD instabilities in tokamak plasmas: Neoclassical Tearing Modes and Kink-Ballooning Modes
To understand the role of current density in the conditions for (1) the onset criteria of a plasma instability called the neoclassical tearing mode, and (2) the kinetic theory of small scale instabilities that drive plasma turbulence in regions of steep plasma pressure gradient (e.g. the so-called ”pedestal region”).