The Trilateral Euregio Cluster TEC, a fusion research cooperation in of the Euregio of The Netherlands, Belgium and the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, renewed its contract and defined future research priorities. Based on the unique competence of its partners – the Ecole Royal Militaire/Koninklijke Militaire School at Brussels, the FOM Institute for Plasma Physics at Nieuwegein and Forschungszentrum Jülich – TEC will concentrate on the investigation of plasma-wall interaction processes. During the signing ceremony on July 8th 2010 at Forschungszentrum Jülich, the consortium also welcomed a new partner,the Belgian Studiecentrum voor Kernenergie/Centre d’étude de l’énergie Nucléaire (SCK·CEN) at Mol. TEC was established in 1996 and has been a real success story. It also integrates the euroregional universities for fusion education and joint research.

Plasma-Wall Interaction (PWI) research is vital to the development of suitable first wall materials for ITER and future fusion reactors (see FN December 2009), a task, which has been identified by EFDA as one of “seven missions” required to ensure the rapid and efficient realisation of fusion energy (EFDA Facility Review of 2008). The review states that Europe still lacks experimental facilities for research into first wall materials, which are in contact with boundary plasmas and therefore contain tritium for the success of ITER and subsequent fusion power plants.

The partners in the Trilateral Euregio Cluster share the necessary key knowledge and experience that will enable installations in the Euregio or further enhance existing ones: JULE-PSI at Jülich, MAGNUM in The Netherlands and VISION-I at Mol in Belgium. These specialised linear plasma machines will soon form a centre of competence for the study of plasma-wall interaction in future the investigation of tritium retention and removal whilst taking account of safety aspects, the investigation of erosion and re-deposition of activated materials, the development of advanced boundary plasma and plasma-surface interaction in order to be able to handle wall materials which are radioactive and contain tritium. Together the envisaged devicesdeliver particle fluxes and ion energies which are ideal for studying the mechanisms and are irradiated by neutrons. These facilities are an absolutely essential prerequisite them to build new experimental fusion reactors that will be unique worldwide. TEC’s new scope comprises diagnostics and control tools – and much more. The new experiments at Jülich and Mol will be conducted in hot cells that take place in the ITER divertor.

Ralph P. Schorn, Forschungszentrum Jülich