A new tokamak in town
After EAST in China and WEST in France, another of the cardinal points of the compass has been chosen to name a tokamak. Introducing NORTH—the NORdic Tokamak device that is enriching the physics and engineering programs at the Technical University of Denmark by offering students hands-on experience with all the aspects of creating a tokamak plasma.
What began as the ST-25 prototype at fusion start-up Tokamak Energy Ltd. (UK) has found a second life, like so many fusion devices, as a research and training instrument at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).
On 23 August 2019—inauguration day—Tokamak Energy Chief Scientist Mikhail Gryaznevich, Dean Henrik Bindslev (University of Southern Denmark), EUROfusion Programme Manager Tony Donné, F4E Deputy Chief Financial Officer Leonardo Biagioni, and former JET scientist Per Nielsen listen to the explanations of Stefan Kragh Nielsen, Senior Scientist at DTU. (Photo credit: Henrik Moltke/Altinget.dk)
The small spherical tokamak—with a plasma major radius of 25 cm and a plasma volume of ~100 litres—is on permanent loan from Tokamak Energy, according to Søren Bang Korsholm, who works as a senior scientist at DTU. The device arrived on five pallets late last year, and was re-assembled and re-wired by the DTU team in the basement of Building 309 on the DTU campus north of Copenhagen. Student-led projects contributed to equipping the device with an array of diagnostic instruments for measuring density, temperature and magnetic field.
"We are pleased that at the university founded by the person who discovered electromagnetism (Hans Christian Ørsted, 1777-1851), we now have the opportunity to contribute to the practical training of some of the fusion scientists and engineers who will bring fusion energy to the grid."
NORTH produced its first official plasma (7 seconds) at the recent inauguration at DTU on 23 August 2019, performing as expected. ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot tuned in to the event by video conference: "Today, DTU has joined the worldwide family of operating tokamaks, which ITER will soon belong to. We are all proud to be part of this great quest, which has been the dream of scientists and engineers for more than five decades. We are now closer than ever to making this dream a reality. I wish you the best for the coming years of fusion research at DTU."
"Although the machine is much smaller than ITER, the basic plasma physics is the same—allowing our students to perform experiments that will prepare them well for working at larger European fusion labs," says Søren.
The newly acquired device is expected to increase the attractiveness of the fusion plasma physics program at the university, but not only. The team aims to make NORTH available to engineering students with an interest in a broader range of topics like diagnostics, materials, energy system analysis, power supply and more, embracing many of the different capabilities required by fusion research and industry.
More information about NORTH, including a video, here.
More on the start-up Tokamak Energy here.
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