Aalto researchers contribute to fusion energy record

Record-breaking 59 megajoules of sustained fusion energy demonstrate potential of fusion to deliver safe, low-carbon energy
The Joint European Torus is the largest and most powerful operational tokamak in the world. Image: EUROfusion

Researchers from the EUROfusion consortium – 4,800 experts, students and staff from across Europe, co-funded by the European Commission and including researchers from Aalto University, VTT and the University of Helsinki – used the Joint European Torus (JET) device to release a record 59 megajoules of sustained fusion energy. This energy was released in one plasma discharge, about 10 seconds, and would be enough to boil a barrel of water.

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. 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.

'The JET deuterium-tritium experiments in 2021 were an unique and exciting opportunity for students and junior-level researchers at Aalto University to experience fusion closest to the burning plasmas foreseen in ITER. These researchers will be the future ITER operators, plasma-performance optimizers and data analysists. Our research into the physics of plasma confinement, fast-particle physics and plasma-wall interactions significantly contributed to the success of the JET fusion energy world record in 2021', says Mathias Groth, professor for Nuclear Engineering at Aalto University.

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.As pressures mount to address the effects of climate change through decarbonising energy production, this success is a major step forward on fusion’s roadmap as a safe, efficient, low carbon means of tackling the global energy crisis.

“These experiments are a culmination of several years of preparation, and JET has now exceeded the goals that were set in the 1980’s, says Tuomas Tala, Principal Scientist at VTT.

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