A Fusion of Ideas

EFDA and ITER had a strong presence at the Second European Energy Conference in April, with both the EFDA leader, Francesco Romanelli and the Director General of ITER, Osamu Motojima delivering plenary lectures. There were also papers presented by EFDA Associates on materials for fusion reactors and about modelling far-reaching energy scenarios to investigate fusion’s place in the future energy market.

There is no silver bullet

The conference brought together policy makers and specialists from many different fields, who shared the progress in their areas, with the aim to “optimise the necessary interdisciplinary cooperation and communication in energy research, development and the support to industrial innovation”. Over 300 participants heard lectures from research topics as diverse as primary energy production and supply networks to US energy policy and efficient end-use of energy. The shared feeling amongst the participants was that there is not a silver bullet which will solve the looming energy crisis, instead many different technologies will contribute to the solution.

Fusion strongly present

Both EFDA and ITER had stands in the conference expo, which attracted a steady stream of interested visitors. The EFDA stand included a remote handling hands-on demonstration, a recent addition to EFDA’s travelling exhibition, Fusion Expo. This exhibit simulates the operation of a robotic arm similar to the one used to conduct maintenance at JET. Visitors were challenged to manipulate “tiles” – wooden blocks – into their allotted spaces using only the on-screen camera view. However, the two minute time limit for the four tiles proved too testing for all but one contestant, giving visitors an appreciation of the skill that the JET technicians showed: During the 2009 – 2011 shutdown, they replaced 86,000 components inside the JET vessel using remote handling techniques.

The conference was presented by the European Science Foundation, the European Materials Research Society and the European Physical Society, and took place in Maastricht, from April 17 to 20, 2012.
Phil Dooley, EFDA