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Of Interest

See archived entries

SOFT 2014: catching up on the latest in fusion research

Sabina Griffith

With over 1,000 participants, SOFT once again proved to be one of the most important platforms for the exchange of information on the design, construction and operation of fusion experiments and future fusion power plants. (Click to view larger version...)
With over 1,000 participants, SOFT once again proved to be one of the most important platforms for the exchange of information on the design, construction and operation of fusion experiments and future fusion power plants.
The posters advertising the International Film Festival had not yet been taken down when another international crowd took over the avant-garde Kursaal congress centre located in the Basque city of San Sebastián last Monday.

For the twenty-eighth time, scientists, engineers, manufacturers and students from all around the world were convening for the Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT), organized this year by the Spanish Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT). With over 1,000 participants, SOFT once again proved to be one of the most important platforms for the exchange of information on the design, construction and operation of fusion experiments and future fusion power plants.

The range of oral presentations spanned from the latest updates on the ITER Project and the Japanese tokamak JT-60SA (currently being upgraded to support ITER operation) to the latest developments on tritium breeding concepts, materials research and power plant technology.

Representatives from the new EUROfusion consortium, to be officially launched this week, presented the first conceptual design ideas for a European DEMO machine with some novel approaches in the areas of magnet design and the blanket technology.

More than 180 posters were on show every day, allowing participants to form a broad view of the current status of fusion research as well as learn more on related topics such as biomass fusion hybrid reactors, the energy balance of helium 3 lunar mining, and Italian-Russian cooperation within the compact tokamak project, Ignitor.

During a special ITER Industrial Infoday, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima stressed the importance of industrial involvement in the development of fusion power. (Click to view larger version...)
During a special ITER Industrial Infoday, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima stressed the importance of industrial involvement in the development of fusion power.
During a special ITER Industrial Infoday, ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima stressed the importance of industrial involvement in the development of fusion power. Henrik Bindslev, director of ITER's European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy, followed up by sketching out the European technology procurements planned beyond 2016.

"ITER is one of the biggest scientific experiments in history," emphasized Luisa Poncela, secretary general for Science, Technology and Innovation within the Spanish government. "And Spanish industry is very proud to participate to this endeavour." More than 100 contracts, valued at over EUR 500 million, have been signed with Spanish companies so far.  

During this latest SOFT, which ran from 29 September to 3 October, the European Prize for Innovation in Fusion Research was awarded for the first time by the European Commission. The first recipients were the German researchers Christian Day and Thomas Giegerich from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), based on their novel fuel cycle concept called KALPUREX (short for: Karlsruhe liquid metal based pumping process for fusion reactor exhaust gases).

The next SOFT conference will take place from 5-9 September 2016 in the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague (www.SOFT2016.eu).



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