Scientific community to conduct final tritium experiments at Joint European Torus

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The start of the final deuterium-tritium experiments at the Joint European Torus (JET) has taken place at the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in Culham, Oxfordshire.

JET is currently the world’s largest and most powerful operational tokamak, and the only machine able to operate with tritium within its fuel mix. It is operated by UKAEA and collectively used by all European fusion laboratories within the EUROfusion consortium.

The planned deuterium-tritium experiments, also known as ‘DTE3’, intend to run for seven weeks and focus on three areas: plasma science, materials science and neutronics.

DTE3 will see 36 experiments aim to reduce the heat load on the divertor exhaust system by injecting impurities into the plasma without compromising performance; use a diagnostic method called ‘laser induced desorption’ to measure the amount of tritium in the surface of the wall materials; improve real-time control of the plasma heat load; and understand the impact of bombarding neutrons on in-vessel materials, electronic components and data acquisition systems.

The third and final deuterium-tritium experiments come just 20 months after JET clearly demonstrated sustained fusion over five seconds at high power and set a world-record. JET’s first deuterium-tritium experiment took place in 1997.

JET’s research findings are critical to the development of ITER, the larger and more advanced version of JET. ITER is a fusion research mega-project supported by seven members – China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the USA – based in the south of France, to further demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy.

As well as ITER, the research findings have important implications for the UK’s STEP prototype powerplant to be built at West Burton, Nottinghamshire, the European DEMO prototype fusion plant, and other national laboratory and private projects around the world.