Just two years after its launch, EUROfusion put in an impressive performance at this year’s Fusion Energy Conference (FEC) in Kyoto. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the FEC organiser, has awarded Sebastijan Brezinsek’s teamwork on the “ITER-like” wall in JET with the Nuclear Fusion Journal prize.

European success in Kyoto

To some researchers it’s THE fusion event: The 26th IAEA FEC in Kyoto has again proved to be the most important conference for discussing key physics and technology solutions for nuclear fusion. It was certainly a success for EUROfusion: One third of the overview presentations were held by consortium members.

The Fusion Energy Conference 2016 in Kyoto. Picture: NIFS, Japan

The Fusion Energy Conference 2016 in Kyoto. Picture: NIFS, Japan

Metal, the material for the tokamak interior

Moreover, Sebastijan Brezinsek from the Forschungszentrum Jülich, one of three EUROfusion Research Units from Germany, won this year’s Nuclear Fusion Journal Award as lead author of the paper ‘Fuel Retention Studies with the ITER-Like Wall in JET’. The study has delivered experimental evidence of the first wall and divertor materials choices made for ITER. It confirmed that, from the point of view of fuel retention and sustainable fuel cycle, metal, as opposed to carbon, is better suited for the interior wall of tokamaks.

Improving ITER physics

According to Richard Kamendje from the IAEA, the study is a giant step for ITER’s progress: “The choice in favour of beryllium and tungsten will meet the expectations of reduced tritium retention as compared to carbon”, says the nuclear fusion expert. For him, the international science community is progressing when it comes to addressing ITER-related physics. “The current ITER physics basis is improving and, moreover, the confidence with regard to ITER fulfilling its mission has been reinforced”, adds Richard.

This award is for the entire team participating in the fuel retention studies and for all contributors who have worked with the ITER-like wall in JET.

Made an impact

Winner Sebastijan does not take sole credit for the achievements. “This award is for the entire team participating in the fuel retention studies and for all contributors who have worked with the ITER-like wall in JET”, he says. Although having sometimes felt somewhat “absorbed” by the work at EUROfusion’s flagship facility, he is now quite honoured that this particular research has made its impact on the magnetic fusion community. The physicist indicates that the next Nuclear Fusion Journal award might be given to a publication which discusses material research for DEMO or the coupling between plasma core and the plasma-surface interface, as has since been observed in different metallic devices.

More world-class work from Europe?

The future will reveal whether it will be European scientists who will again receive the award. Nevertheless, Richard finds that EUROfusion is on a good way to compiling all the necessary efforts: “European research is becoming transparent for the world. I appreciate the intellectual diversity it brings in terms of the exploitation of its fusion devices. However, more time is probably required in order to enable us to demonstrate the efficiency of the approach by producing more world-class work”, he says.

International fusion collaborations materialise

During the FEC, it was clear that many countries wished for further international collaborations. Several of these were taking shape as the regular bilateral meetings between the European Commission and Japan, Russia, Korea and China were held at the periphery of the conference.
The meeting with China, specifically, led to the signing of a Technology Management Plan. Under the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy agreement, Dr Andras Siegler (Director for Energy Research from the European Commission) and Dr Luo Delong (Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China) agreed to reinforce and formalise the cooperation between Europe and China.
“Fusion in Europe” will continue to report on the exchange.