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Research for ITER operation

New and existing European facilities, such as the Joint European Torus (JET), will be used to assess specific ITER technologies and to prepare for ITER operation through practical experiments as well as theory and numerical modelling.

Current tokamak sizes
compared to ITER
©EC-RTD-EURATOM

The aim of the focused physics and technology programme under Euratom FP7 is to consolidate choices for the operation of ITER. This will also work towards the rapid launch of ITER operations following construction, and significantly reduce the time and cost of achieving ITER's objectives.

The programme is executed through coordinated experimental activities using the JET facilities and other European magnetic confinement devices such as the ASDEX Upgrade tokamak in Germany, the Tore Supra tokamak in France, the TCV tokamak in Switzerland, the MAST spherical tokamak in the UK, and the FTU tokamak in Italy, amongst others.

This programme includes the assessment of specific key technologies for ITER operation through the completion and exploitation of enhancements to JET, including an ITER-like first wall, new heating systems and extended diagnostics. ITER operating scenarios will be explored through targeted experiments on JET and other facilities, as well as through coordinated modelling activities.

Theoretical research is important for improving our understanding of the behaviour of fusion plasmas and numerical modelling is becoming increasingly valuable since modern supercomputers allow highly detailed simulation of the behaviour of the plasmas and other parts of the system. The numerical tools being developed will be essential for the preparation of efficient and cost-effective experiments in ITER.

JET - the model for ITER

Inside of JET ©JET

JET is the only fusion device currently able to run on the deuterium/tritium fuel mix that will power ITER.

Launched in 1978, JET came into operation in 1983. It is a tokamak device approximately 15 metres in diameter and 12 metres high. JET boasts extensive plasma measurement systems (diagnostics) and a highly sophisticated system of magnetic field coils that is able to 'fine tune' the positioning and shape of the plasma. It holds the current world record for fusion power: 16 megawatts achieved in 1997.

Recent upgrades to JET include new radio-frequency plasma heating systems that will enable plasma operation close to those anticipated in ITER. JET is also able to test many of the advanced technologies, such as heating and control systems, new materials for plasma-facing components, and remote-handling devices that will be required for ITER in conditions close to those required for fusion power production.