Nuclear Fusion: JET Receives ‘Unprecedented’ Funding
The European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA) has just announced the continued funding for their ‘JET’ operation, located at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), Oxfordshire, UK, that should see the facility run until late 2018.
JET, is an experimental test bed project that explores the magnetic confinement (MC) branch of nuclear fusion, and aims to provide essential research data and engineering know-how for the next generation of toroidal tokamak reactors— such as ITER (see below), which is currently under construction, and should be operational by 2020.
To generate fusion reactions conditions are extreme, with temperatures of one million °C required for fusion to occur. To overcome this engineering problem magnetic fields have been utilised to confine and ‘bottle’ plasma—made from hydrogen isotopes—away from the inner walls of the reactor.
Once conditions are correct, the confined deuterium/tritium atoms fuse together to produce helium nuclei and high speed neutron by-products—these reactions release the required energy. The total power per reaction has been calculated to be approximately 17.6 Mev, which is 10 million times more powerful than current sources, making fusion potentially the golden egg of energy research.
The funding amounts to an unprecedented 283 million euros for the JET project, which should ensure the experiment runs until ITER is completed. As Tony Donné, Manager of the European Joint Programme states: ’The fact that we can now rely on a five year contract until the end of 2018, makes it easier for us and CCFE to fulfil the goal defined in the new EU framework programme.’
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