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Paola Batistoni is project leader for the next deuterium-tritium (DT) campaign at JET. The neutronics expert explains why chasing little particles is so important for ITER, the largest fusion experiment to come, and what it is like to guide scientists working in laboratories all over Europe. Picture: private

Yes, Wendelstein 7-X is one stellarator of a kind. Chancellor Angela Merkel inaugurated the fusion experiment with a simple push of a button releasing the first hydrogen plasma into the vessel. This push has taken international scientists more than eleven years to achieve. Wendelstein 7-X also raises a lot of questions: Are we now one step closer to fusion powered energy on Earth? How can the stellarator Wendelstein 7-X support the upcoming world’s biggest tokamak ITER? And why did the shot only last a tiny quarter of a second? This issue of ‘Fusion in Europe’ supplies the answers.

At the age of 28, Luxherta Buzi has already explored four European fusion Research Units. She has now landed in the United States where her work supports the outcome of the spherical tokamak at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Picture: private

At the age of 28, Luxherta Buzi has already
explored four European fusion Research
Units. She has now landed in the
United States where her work supports
the outcome of the spherical tokamak at
the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Picture: private

The European Commission has contributed 20 percent of the stellarator’s total costs of 370 million Euros. A fact which pushed Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, to speak out in favour of fusion. Surely, EUROfusion must take advantage of the W 7-X. The consortium is currently readjusting its roadmap towards realising fusion energy. Also since the ITER Council in November 2015 revealed what was already known behind closed doors: ITER won’t meet its launch date in 2019. ‘Fusion in Europe’ explains how the EUROfusion team, specifically, is revising its work plan. Additionally, Won Namkung, the new Chair of the ITER council, talks about priorities.

If your immediate thought was JET, you are correct! JET is currently preparing its second deuterium-tritium campaign and we asked project leader Paola Batistoni why this is so important. JET’s data is a treasure trove if you know what to look for. A new dashboard developed by Anthony Shaw, Alex Meakins and Matthew Car puts all the tokamak’s data in one place.

Wendelstein will produce pulses which last about 30 minutes maximum. This will happen in about four years. The actual experimental period only continues until mid-March. Then, carbon tiles to protect the vessel walls and a so-called “divertor” for removing impurities will be installed. That is why the first shot was so short. Do you want to know what a divertor is? You will find the answer in the article “Snowflake and its several divertors”.

Maybe you watched the opening ceremony of Wendelstein 7-X on the livestream feed from Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP). While some physicists excitedly waited for a first photo of the hydrogen plasma, others implemented another historical benchmark. The picture showing Prof Sibylle Günter, Scientific Director of IPP, and Dr Angela Merkel appears to be a good example of “Girl power”. As the entire world talks about gender equality in science, a modern stellarator might show the female shape of things to come. In “The infamous leaky pipeline”, you can read about what Prof Günter thinks of the gender issue and why JET’s environment might again serve as a role model.