29th SOFT opens its curtains in Prague

ITER News 05 SEP, 2016 – Sabina Griffith

The 29th edition of the Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT) today opened its curtains in the Czech capital of Prague. With 30 exhibitors and more than 800 scheduled posters and presentations, SOFT once more proves to be one of the major platforms for exchanging the latest developments in fusion research and fusion technology.

30 exhibitors, more than 800 scheduled posters and presentations. SOFT, this year in Prague, is one of the major platforms for exchanging the latest developments in fusion research and technology. Photo: Christophe Roux – CEA

The line up of keynote speakers included András Siegler from the European Commission’s Directorate for Energy, who called the audience to action. “If we want to meet the historical agreement that was signed by 195 countries at the COP-21 in Paris last December—that is to keep the increase of the global temperature below two degrees—we have to achieve the shift to a 60 percent low carbon energy era. Could fusion be the solution?” Some people believe that fusion will come too late, Siegler said. “But when it comes to the decarbonization of the global energy system, advanced nuclear technologies such as fusion will never come too late.”

ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot then impressed the audience with a technology-intensive and high-speed presentation that reported the latest developments on the construction site, the manufacturing process of the ITER components and, last but not least, the recently implemented management changes. With a picturesque image of the construction site set against the snow-covered mountain ranges of the French Alps, Bigot closed by saying that his personal goal was to see fusion enter the international energy landscape.

ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot giving an interview to Daniel Stach, moderator of the popular National Czech TV program “Hyde Park Civilizace” (which will be aired in English this Saturday) in front of the illuminated Compass tokamak.

During this year’s edition the SOFT Fusion Innovation Prize, launched by Euratom in 2014, was awarded for the second time. Third prize went to Jonathan Naish from the UK for his work on innovative software (VORTEX) that combines the virtual reality environment with results of radiation transport calculations to allow improved radioprotection in radiation environments of high complexity.

The winners of this year’s Fusion Innovation Prize: Walter Fietz, Karine Liger, Silvano Tosti, Alessia Santucci and Jonathan Naish.

The second prize was awarded to an Italian/French research team for their work on a new type of palladium-based membrane that will have applications in tritium recycling (part of the fusion fuel cycle).

And finally the first prize went to a German/Swiss team led by Walter Fietz from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology for its contributions to the development of a novel and innovative type of high temperature superconducting “CrossConductor” cable based on REBCO material and the transfer of this innovation to industrial applications.