Nuclear Fusion Energy: Six Divertors Make the ITER Cut

Eurofusion July 12th 2017

Red marks the spot where the magic happens: JET’s divertor. Picture: EUROfusion

One crucial theme of the EUROfusion Roadmap is improving divertor designs in preparation for the demonstration fusion reactor. Divertors, often referred to as the ashtrays of a fusion device, are the components that deal with fusion exhaust products. To meet the need for improved divertors, the EUROfusion Roadmap has prioritised research into heat-exhaust systems.

In late 2015, EUROfusion called for proposals on the subject of plasma exhaust projects, which were then evaluated by an independent panel of experts. The call, termed Plasma Exhaust (PEX) Assessment, received ten proposals covering both conventional and alternative divertors, along with traditional materials and plasma facing units as well as advanced materials.

Focus on PEX

“There is never a dull moment for EUROfusion, and every year has its special feature,” says EUROfusion Programme Manager Tony Donné. “In 2016, it was the PEX assessment that required a lot of our attention,” he adds.

Paving the way for future experiments

“This is one of the most important decisions EUROfusion has taken since it forms the foundation for future experiments,” says Xavier Litaudon, Head of EUROfusion’s ITER Physics Department.

Support for three projects is currently on hold namely COMPASS-U (Czech Republic), the Divertor Test Tokamak, DTT, (Italy), and OLMAT-TJII (Spain).

DTT approval

The approval for the DTT, in particular, requires further assessment because unlike the other proposals, the Divertor Test Tokamak will be a completely new facility which is built from scratch. Moreover, the assessment team needs more information regarding whether and how the DTT will fit into the EUROfusion roadmap. A workshop in summer will partly help to answer these questions.

EUROfusion selected six of those ten projects to receive support. These included: ASDEX Upgrade at the Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics, Garching (Germany), JULE-PSI at Forschungszentrum Jülich (Germany), MAST-Upgrade at CCFE (United Kingdom), TCV at the Swiss Plasma Centre (Switzerland) and WEST at CEA (France) as well as a small project at the Josef Stefan Institute (Slovenia).