Transferring the technology
A significant challenge in building ITER and future fusion power plants is to ensure that the technological innovation generated by ITER-orientated research is swiftly transferred to industry. This boosts the competitiveness of European industry and makes sure Europe is ready to meet the opportunities of the future fusion power market.
Attaining the goal of fusion power production involves exciting and stimulating technological challenges. The underlying basic science, plasma physics and a whole range of supporting technologies have made significant advances thanks to Europe's coordinated research efforts on fusion.
equipment at JET © EC-RTD-EURATOM
Along the way, many of these leading-edge technologies are being pushed to new limits, in many cases providing innovative solutions to challenging problems in applications far beyond the bounds of fusion power generation.
There are numerous examples of spin-offs from the research programme that have found applications in industry. The exploitation of spin-offs from the technologies developed within the fusion research programme is of great benefit to European economic competitiveness.
Specific spin-offs include state of the art remote handling systems, new semiconductor manufacturing techniques, large-area plasma etching and deposition, a number of extreme ultra violet (EUV) techniques such as lithography, thin film deposition and precision EUV optical elements, X-ray micro-lithography, direct write e-beam arrays using nano-tube electron field emitters, ion implantation techniques, and plasma high definition TV (HDTV) display panels amongst many others.
The new technologies are found in a wide range of sectors such as the medical and health sector. Technology-driven examples include laser cavity drilling, medical isotope separation, tissue welding, continuous glucose monitors, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
While in the material processing sector new fusion-related technologies include microwave sintering, enhanced chemical vapour deposition (EPCVD), laser machining, and rapid crystal growth techniques.
The waste processing sector has also benefited from technologies such as waste vitrification, plasma torches, and microwave spallation of contaminated surfaces.
Examples of further spin-off ventures can be found in the brochure Fusion energy moving forward.
Joint development with Industry
Currently, further efforts are being made to ensure that the skills and knowledge acquired whilst building systems and components for ITER can boost European industrial competitiveness.
A Fusion Industry Policy Unit in DG Research has been specifically formed to assist industry to exploit the high technology fruits of fusion energy research.
The unit can provide extensive information and technical details on the technologies emerging or already developed from the various Euratom Research Programmes and many more technology packages developed by the various European Fusion Development Association (EFDA) partners across Europe.
The Unit can also advise on forthcoming industrial opportunities in the Euratom Fusion Research Programme and the ITER programme. It is vital that industry capitalise on the public investment in fusion research that Europe has already made.
Fusion technologies can offer EU industry exciting competitive advantages, and European enterprises - both small and large - are encouraged to seize these unique opportunities for the benefit of all.
A number of case studies have been published in the EC Brochure Fusion and Industry together for the future.