European researchers achieve Fusion Energy Record

February 9th 2022

EUROfusion announced record results in a new deuterium-tritium campaign in JET. EUROfusion states these results are the clearest demonstration in a quarter of a century of the potential for fusion energy to deliver safe and sustainable low-carbon energy. DIFFER researchers of the Integrated Modelling and Transport-group led by Jonathan Citrin have made major contributions in the development of the core plasma transport models and were part of the EUROfusion team that predicted the performance that has been achieved in these experiments.

Record DT shot 99971 Credit:EUROfusion
Record shot #99971
Credit: EUROfusion

This achievement on JET, the largest and most powerful operational tokamak in the world at the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) site in Oxford, more than doubles the previous fusion energy record of 21.7 megajoules set there in 1997: a record-breaking 59 megajoules of sustained fusion energy, in record shot #99971 on 21 December 2021. The experiment demonstrates te potential of fusion. It comes as part of a dedicated experimental campaign designed by EUROfusion to test over two decades’ worth of advances in fusion and optimally prepare for the start of the international ITER project.

Culmination of two decades of research
Egbert Westerhof, Head of Fusion Energy at DIFFER: “These experiments form the culmination of the research efforts of the world wide fusion community over the past two decades and represent an enormous confidence boost for the development of fusion into a viable, carbon-free energy source for the future of mankind. In particular, the fact that the results are fully in line with the predicted performance demonstrates that fusion researchers have made great progress in the understanding of the core plasma physics in a fusion reactor and that we have now reached a predictive capability."

Egbert Westerhof. Photo: BvO
Egbert Westerhof. Photo: BvO

Between the previous experiments in 1997 and the current experiments, JET has undergone a major refurbishment. Westerhof: "As Head of the JET Operations Department between 2004 and 2007, the current DIFFER director, Marco de Baar, led  this refurbishment during which the current ‘ITER-like Wall’ was installed. The reactor wall was replaced by a metal wall of Tungsten and Beryllium, materials that will also be used in the ITER reactor. The choice of reactor wall materials has an important impact on the behaviour and performance of the plasma core. As such the present results are also great news for ITER as they confirm the expected performance of this future reactor."

Boost for ITER
The record and the scientific data from these crucial experiments are a major boost for ITER, the larger and more advanced version of JET. ITER is a fusion research project based in the south of France. Supported by seven members – China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the USA – ITER aims to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy.

More information
EUROfusion website
Interview Jonathan Citrin: Simulations for JET deuterium-tritium campaign

JET. Credit: UKAEA