Fusion at work
The long-term goal of the seventh Euratom Framework Programme (2007-11) remains "the creation of prototype reactors for power stations which are safe, sustainable, environmentally responsible and economically viable". The specific goals for FP7 are to develop the knowledge base for this long-term aim and to realise ITER as the next major step towards it.
The proposed FP7 programme comprises:
- realisation of ITER
- R&D for ITER operation
- technology activities for DEMO
- human resources, education and training
- technology transfer processes
The realisation of ITER involves site preparation, establishing the ITER Organisation and the European Joint Undertaking for ITER, management and staffing, general technical and administrative support, construction of equipment and installations, and support to the project during construction.
To prepare for ITER operation, a focused physics and technology programme will exploit the facilities and resources in the fusion programme, including JET. It will assess specific key ITER technologies, consolidate ITER project choices, and prepare for ITER operation through experimental and theoretical activities.
Preparation for DEMO will entail the vigorous development of fusion materials and key technologies for fusion. In addition, a dedicated project team will be established to prepare for the construction of the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF) to qualify materials for DEMO. It will include irradiation testing and modelling of materials, studies of the DEMO conceptual design, and studies of the safety, environmental and socio-economic aspects of fusion energy.
Activities directed towards the longer-term needs include further development of improved concepts for magnetic confinement schemes with potential advantages for fusion power stations (focused on the completion of the construction of the W7-X stellarator device), theory and modelling aimed at a comprehensive understanding of the behaviour of fusion plasmas.
In view of the immediate and medium-term needs of ITER, and for the further development of fusion, other initiatives will aim at ensuring that adequate human resources will be available in the future, in terms of numbers, range of skills, and high-level training and experience.
The Euratom FP7 (and the preceding FPs) require the fusion programme to maintain "keep in touch" activities on scientific & technological developments in the field of inertial fusion (IFE working group site). As compared to magnetic fusion, with "laser driven confinement" of inertial fusion, reactions are induced by compressing small, high density fuel pellets using, for example, high energy particle beams or lasers, for very short periods of time.