JET is ready to go full throttle

Eurofusion July 12th 2017

Zoltán Köllő, Atlantis Cobalt, Paul Staniec and Tamsin Jackson (from left to right) during the D-T rehearsals in JET’s tritium plant control room. Picture: © Copyright protected by United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority

“We have to try again and see what is really the best performance for ITER we can deliver”, says plasma operations expert Eva Belonohy. She works at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE) and can’t wait for the next experiments to take place inside EUROfusion’s flagship – the Joint European Torus (JET).

JET, also referred to as ‘little ITER’, provides international researchers with the unique data required in order to prepare for the experiments at the world’s largest tokamak to come. ITER’s predecessor is the only fusion device in the world that is able to operate with deuterium-tritium (D-T). This is the fuel which is intended for use in future fusion power plants. In 1997, Europe’s flagship facility carried out the last D-T campaign and produced a total of 16 megawatts of fusion power. “We usually use hydrogen isotopes as fuel but if we inject tritium into the plasma we increase the performance by a factor of 100”, adds Eva.

Benchmarking ITER

EUROfusion makes sure that JET’s results will be efficiently exploited and shared. Xavier Litaudon, Head of the ITER Physics Department of EUROfusion, confirms that the planned D-T experimental campaign in 2019-2020 will benchmark the ITER relevant 14-MeV neutron detection calibration, the calculation of the neutron flux, and the machine activation. It will also enable the investigation of the radiation damage of functional materials for ITER.

Plasma operations expert Eva Belonohy shares her excitement about the upcoming experiments on EUROfusion’s flagship device. Picture: © Copyright protected by United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority

A brilliant campaign

All of this needs to be well arranged and practiced in advance. Since JET went into shutdown on 15th November last year, researchers and engineers have declared the recent campaign as one of the most successful in the long history of the European fusion device.

“The campaign was brilliant, the results were just great”, says Eva. The tokamak was able to meet almost all of the goals and, just as if to show that 34 years of operation is nothing but a number, JET delivered the most successful performance in years.

For this reason it is hardly surprising that Eva’s eyes glisten when she talks about the current D-T rehearsals at JET. Do you want to see the enthusiasm? Take a look at her explanations in this short YouTube video at the top of this page.