JET, like any research facility, must be continuously developed and upgraded in order to remain at the cutting edge in its field. JET, in particular, as the largest operating tokamak in the world is often called upon to test new concepts in conditions as close as possible to those foreseen for ITER, JET’s international successor. Indeed, the presently running upgrade programme for JET, the so-called Enhancement Programme 2 or EP2, is specifically targeted at support of ITER. Such enhancement programmes necessarily involve industrial participation in manufacturing and, often, developing the necessary components. The budget for procurements for EP2, for example, is over 60 Million Euros, funded largely directly by the European Commission but also in part by the JET Joint Fund to which not only the Commission but also the European Fusion Associates contribute.

The benefits to industry in Europe of working with JET are more than simply the value of the contracts received.

The largest activity in EP2 is the so-called ITER-Like Wall Project in which the plasma-facing components inside JET will be changed from carbon to the combination of beryllium and tungsten. This is the combination of materials that is foreseen for the wall in ITER. In order to accomplish this, more than 80,000 parts are being procured with the work divided between 19 different industrial contracts. Furthermore, in support of this change of wall material, the JET diagnostic suite is being significantly upgraded in order to be able to properly interpret the new results with the metal wall.

The benefits to industry in Europe of working with JET are more than simply the value of the contracts received. The technologies developed can have applications also in other fields. A recent example is a detector made of artificial diamond developed by the Italian Association ENEA for measuring the number and energy spectrum of neutrons emitted from the JET plasma. These detectors are being considered for application to high-energy physics research. For many firms, improvements in quality control necessary to meet JET standards are also qualifying them to bid for work on ITER. Moreover JET, as a high profile, high-tech research centre, provides a valuable reference for firms seeking to build a positive technical or scientific reputation.

Lorne Horton