I always liked to participate in challenging projects

Professor Carlos Varandas, 55 years old, is Director of the Centro de Fusão Nuclear and Chairman of the European Fusion Development Agreement Steering Committee. He started his professional career at the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) in Lisbon as an electrotechnical engineer, later he focussed on Plasma Physics and Physics Engineering. After the adhesion of Portugal to the European Union in 1986 Carlos Varandas was one of six Portuguese researchers that decided to build a new fusion research unit. “I always liked to participate in challenging projects since the very beginning”, he explains his motivation.

Mr. Varandas, could you please describe the fusion landscape in Portugal?

First, there is the Centro de Fusão Nuclear (CFN), the research unit (RU) of the Contract of Association signed between EURATOM and IST in 1990. Since then, other Portuguese RUs have collaborated with CFN, such as the Centro de Física de Plasmas, the Instituto Tecnológico e Nuclear, the Centro de Electrónica e Instrumentação da Universidade de Coimbra, the Centro de Fisica Atómica da Faculdade de Ciências de Lisboa, the Instituto de Sistemas e Robótica, the Departamento de Física da Universidade da Beira Interior and the Departamento de Física da Faculdade de Engenharia do Porto. We are participating in the collective use of the JET facilities as well as in other projects like ASDEX-Upgrade, TJ-II, TCV, COMPASS-D, TORE SUPRA, TCA-Br, ETE and, of course, ITER. Our main areas of expertise are microwave reflectometry, control and data acquisition, real-time plasma control, heavy ion beam analyser, MHD, turbulence and transport, edge physics, lower hybrid physics and engineering, tokamak operation with AC discharges, interaction of liquid metals with plasmas, interaction of ultra-intense lasers with plasmas and materials characterization.

What will be the Portuguese contribution to the ITER project? How has the ITER project influenced your workplan?

Portugal would like to participate in the ITER project by leading the EU contribution on microwave reflectometry and digital instrumentation for control and data acquisition. Furthermore we hope to contribute to the European research teams and industrial consortia working on the fields listed above and hopefully provide staff for the International Team and ELE. An involvement in the ITER project would strongly influence our work plan for 2007-2011. It would mean important strategic changes to our scientific agenda, the construction of new laboratories, the implementation of quality assurance procedures, the increase of the number of engineers in our staff and technical assistance to the Portuguese firms that will participate in ITER.

Besides your manifold duties you are also a member of the International Organizing Committee of the Latin-American Workshop on Plasma Physics. Is it true that Brazil is interested in joining the ITER project?

Several Latin-American countries have theoretical and experimental activities on plasma physics. There are four tokamaks, three in Brazil (TCA-Br, ETE and NOVA) and one in Mexico (Novillo). So far, only Brazil has shown an interest in participating in the ITER project, as an Associate Party. Brazil has the largest fusion community of Latin-America and is currently implementing a national programme on nuclear fusion aiming at participating in the ITER project. Brazil is discussing an agreement on how to cooperate with EURATOM. In the meantime, the Brazilian fusion research units and CFN are carrying out joint works on microwave reflectometry, Alfvén waves, control and data acquisition, MHD, Thomson scattering and liquid metal limiters. This collaboration also includes the participation of Brazilian physicists in the JET and ASDEX- Upgrade programmes.

Coming back to Europe – you are the Chairman of the European Fusion Development Agreement Steering Committee. What is going to happen with EFDA once the European Legal Entity (ELE) is implemented?

“Fusion for Energy”, previously referred as ELE, will be responsible for the EU contributions to ITER and the Broader Approach (BA) as well as the project-oriented activities related to DEMO. ELE will be operational very soon. Then, the present EFDA activities related to ITER and a large majority of the Fusion Technology Programme will be transferred to ELE while a new version of EFDA is under discussion.The new scope of this agreement has already been approved by the EFDA Steering Committee and endorsed by the CCE-FU. A first version of the new EFDA and related instruments will be discussed in the forthcoming meeting of the EFDA Steering Committee in March in Aachen, Germany. The new EFDA will most probably be in force by September- October 2007. It will aim to reinforce the coherence within the EURATOM Fusion Programme by coordinating the physics activities within the Associations and by implementing a new scheme for preferential support.

ISSN 1818-5355

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editors: Örs Benedekfi, Sabina Griffith

layout: Stefan Kolmsperger

© Jérôme Paméla (EFDA Leader) 2007.

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