Where will our energy come from in future? Young people, in particular, are very much aware of the serious economical and environmental issues  behind this question. Despite the high level of awareness with regard to energy issues, however, relatively few are more than superficially familiar with fusion power and even fewer realise the great potential it holds. The current Belgian EU presidency appeared to be the ideal pretext to provide an insight into the status of fusion research and to offer an opportunity to discuss the topic with experts by bringing Fusion Expo, an exhibition of EFDA and the European Commission, right into the heart of Brussels. Between 25th October and 15th (Photo: European Commission) November the exhibition was housed in the Atrium of the Palace of the Academies, right next to the Royal Palace. Belgian’s first Astronaut Viscount Dirk Frimout was given the honour of cutting the opening ribbon along with one of the students. Located conveniently near the train station, the exhibition drew not only a large number of school classes, but also hundreds of individual visitors. Many took the challenge to try how much energy they could produce by pedalling on the “bike power station”. Even the most furious of bikers were unable to produce more than about one quarter of the 1,000 Watts of electricity that an average Belgian consumes! Fusion Expo was also boosted by a new 3D interactive movie from the European Commission which appealed to younger visitors in particular. Wearing polarised glasses, they immersedthemselves into the world of the little girl Fusia. Steering with a joystick, they joined Fusia in her flying saucer on a journey to the sun where she explained what fusion is about.

Another 3D movie, Starmakers, immersed the audience into a computer animated ITER, its control room and its buildings, giving them a taste of the size and complexity of a real fusion machine.

An academic event took place on 24th September and provided extra exposure for the Expo, welcoming His Royal Highness Prince Philippe of Belgium, along with distinguished speakers representing the European Commission and the ITER project. Among them, the EC’s Research Director General Robert- Jan Smits placed ITER in the context of the current and future Framework Programmes and underlined the willingness to support this endeavour. The newly appointed director general of ITER, Professor Osamu Motojima presented ITER as an opportunity and a reality, saying that “the project has now gone beyond the stage of being a mere dream”. Dr Jérôme Paméla, director of ITER-France, outlined the timeline of ITER and emphasised the important role that Europe has to play in the realisation and success of this machine.

Both, Fusion Expo and the Academic Event were organised by the Association “EURATOM-Belgian State” together with ITER-Belgium, in collaboration with the DG Research of the European Commission.


Thanks to Dirk van Eester, ERM/KMS, for his input