At the Joint European Torus (JET), opens an external URL in a new window in the UK, a European research team has succeeded in generating 69 megajoules of energy from 0.2 milligrams of fuel. This is the highest amount of energy ever achieved in a fusion experiment. JET is a so-called tokamak reactor in which strong magnetic fields are used to confine the hydrogen plasma, which has a temperature of around 100 million degrees Celsius, in a donut-shaped vacuum chamber. JET is currently the only fusion experiment in the world that works with the same fuel mixture of deuterium and tritium that will also be used in commercial fusion power plants.
A major problem in realising nuclear fusion is protecting the walls of future fusion reactors from the hot plasma. There are various proposals to solve this problem, some of which were tested for the first time in a deuterium-tritium environment during the last experiments at JET. These included an operating scenario that was developed two years ago by fusion researchers at our institute (Dr. Georg Harrer, DI. Lidija Radovanovic and Prof. Dr. Friedrich Aumayr) together with German colleagues led by Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Wolfrum from IPP Garching in the journal "Physical Review Letters", opens an external URL in a new window.
After the new operating scenario (named QCE for Quiet Continuous Exhaust) had already been tested in medium-sized fusion experiments such as ASDEX Upgrade and TCV, it has now been successfully demonstarted for the first time on a big machine like JET and during D-T operation!
Instead of large, potentially destructive instabilities of the plasma, so-called type I ELM bursts, the QCE scenario deliberately accepts many small instabilities that are unproblematic for the reactor walls. Due to this success, it is to be expected that this scenario will also be realisable in future larger fusion reactors such as ITER. The European research consortium EUROfusion, opens an external URL in a new window and in particular the Austrian fusion research community, opens an external URL in a new window are pleased that they have succeeded in showing how the plasma edge can be brought into a stable state and thus prevent large destructive energy bursts from reaching the reactor wall.
- Press Release ORF (German)
- Press Release ÖAW (German)
- Press Release Fusion@ÖAW (German)
- Presse Release "Die Presse" (German)
- Press Release "Der Standard" (German)
Univ.Prof. Dr. Friedrich Aumayr
Institute of Applied Physics
Wiedner Hauptstraße 8-10, 1040 Vienna
Phone: +43 1 58801 13430