EFDA Leader appoints new Senior Advisor

In December 2011, Duarte Borba took on the position of the Senior Advisor to the EFDA Leader, succeeding Michael Watkins, who recently retired. After starting his fusion research career at IST in Lisbon, Duarte joined JET in 1991 as a scientist. He later worked in the JET Programme Department and was deeply involved in the formation of EFDA from 1999. During the last four years Duarte Borba headed the ITER Physics Department at EFDA CSU Garching.

Welcome back to JET, Duarte! What will you focus on in your new position?

My main work will be managing and expanding JET’s international – meaning beyond Europe – cooperations. JET is part of a global network of large tokamaks and we already have a significant number of scientists, mostly from Japan, Korea and the US, here in Culham. Now we plan to expand these collaborations in order to prepare for ITER. We need multi-machine experiments to investigate conditions we cannot create in one single tokamak.

Is the preparation for ITER also the motivation of our international partners to seek a collaboration with JET?

Precisely. Being the largest device and the only one to operate with tritium and now also with a tungsten-beryllium wall, JET’s characteristics are closest to what we expect for ITER. Last year an international panel reviewed the JET Programme and strongly recommended JET to play a key role in the network of devices that prepare the operation of ITER.

JET is the best training ground for future ITER scientists.

So JET will become more international?

This is the view of the EFDA management and that of the review panel. Bringing new partners into JET will also attract funds, as there must be a mutual benefit. Our current stakeholders have a position to protect, as machine resources are limited. We will have to develop agreements that allow us expand the way we do science at JET beyond Europe. This could lead to operating JET beyond the currently planned time span.

Could JET be a training ground for ITER not just scientifically but also for working within an international environment?

Yes. Running multicultural organisations bears challenges and JET is a good example of how these can be overcome efficiently. Having international scientists’ teams at JET before they move on to ITER would make them familiar with each other and with the routines of a complex experiment. They could start their work at ITER more efficiently.

EFDA has a lot of experience with mobile teams of scientists and also with data analysis and storage, which some of the EIROforum partners might benefit from.

You represent EFDA in the Coordination Group of EIROforum, the partnership of Europe’s eight large international laboratories. How does EFDA contribute to this network?

Big Science facilities have many common challenges regarding technology, management and analysis methods for data, or publications management. We also share the need to support and manage the careers and mobility of our scientific and technical personnel. EFDA has a lot of experience with mobile teams of scientists and also with data analysis and storage, which some of the EIROforum partners might benefit from.

What are EFDA’s aims with regards to EIROforum?

One of the key issues during EFDA’s Chairmanship of EIROforum in 2010/2011 was to have one strong voice during the shaping of the European research framework programme, Horizon 2020. Speaking with one voice also becomes increasingly important regarding software licensing, for example. We all need software for data analysis or data management. Joint negotiations might get us better deals.

As former Head of the EFDA ITER Physics Department, where do you see the main issues for European fusion research with respect to ITER?

Operating ITER will be more difficult and challenging than working on any device we know. ITER will only perform a few pulses a day. Scientists will have to use the existing tokamaks to narrow down their experiments to the most promising ones. Let me give you just one example: The large heat of ITER plasmas requires us to understand ELM instabilities and develop mitigation methods. We can test various techniques on all tokamaks in Europe and then transfer the successful ones to the larger machines like ASDEX Upgrade and JET. We must select which methods we test at JET and we can take even less of these to ITER. The challenge for the EFDA Physics Department will be to coordinate these efforts in the most efficient way in terms of manpower, facilities and funding.