The Joint European Torus (JET) fusion reactor is gearing up to start experiments using its new reactor vessel wall lining.
The Oxfordshire-based reactor is now equipped with beryllium and tungsten tiles of the sort that will be used in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) — the next-generation fusion reactor currently being built in the south of France.
The research is co-ordinated under the European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA).
‘The coming experiments will aim to verify that the wall materials chosen for ITER will behave as expected,’ said Lorne Horton, head of the EFDA’s JET department.
Between October 2009 and May 2011, engineers from the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire removed and replaced approximately 86,000 components, largely using remote handling technology.
The upgrade comprises new materials inside the JET vessel, more heating power and additional diagnostic systems. Beryllium is being used in the main wall, whereas tungsten, with its high melting point, is the choice for the exhaust component known as the ‘divertor’ that has to withstand high heat flux.
The other main enhancement is a 50 per cent increase in heating power. With the extra power, the JET will achieve higher plasma temperatures and approach condition planned for the ITER.
New diagnostics and control systems, developed by the EFDA associate laboratories, will allow a deep investigation of the scientific challenges in preparing for the ITER.
Francesco Romanelli of the EFDA said: ‘We have plans to use the deuterium-tritium fusion fuel mix of the ITER in 2015 to allow full exploitation of the JET’s new capabilities. We hope to set new performance records and provide the best possible preparation for the ITER.’