A new Cooperation Agreement provides the legal framework for the EUROfusion consortium to send select experts, scientists and engineers to the ITER Neutral Beam Test Facility in Padua, Italy, and—by doing so—support the development of ITER's most powerful external heating system.
While routinely used on fusion devices, ITER neutral beam injection will be first-of-a-kind due to its scale, which imposes enhanced requirements—particle beams have to be much thicker, for example, and the particles have to be injected at faster speeds in order to reach the core of the plasma. Two bus-sized injectors will be installed on ITER, but before then component design and physics and technology issues will be explored at the ITER Neutral Beam Test Facility.
Two neutral beam injectors on ITER will deliver 33 MW of heating power to the ITER plasma—over half the external heating required.
ITER's chosen technology—the acceleration and neutralization of negative deuterium (D-) ions—will be tested and validated through the operation of two testbeds at the Neutral Beam Test Facility (NBTF) in Padua, Italy, where scientists will have the chance to test component design and explore physics and technology issues before installing the system on ITER. The facility's ITER-scale negative ion source, SPIDER, is already functioning
; the prototype injector, MITICA, is under construction.
Europe has been closely involved in the development of radio-frequency-driven negative ion source technology from the start, and the ITER source is based on a radio-frequency-driven negative ion source that has been evolving over several generations of prototypes at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Garching, Germany.
Under the terms of a Cooperation Agreement signed with the ITER Organization and Consorzio RFX, the European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy (EUROfusion
) can provide select experts from European labs—up to 14 professionals per year (PPY)—to work on the neutral beam project at ITER's facility in Padua. EUROfusion is also providing 6 PPY to support the development of the half-size negative ion source in Garching (ELISE
For Deirdre Boilson, head of the Heating & Current Drive Division at ITER, EUROfusion has made a strong commitment. "The NBTF Facility is a necessary step in the realization of the ITER neutral beams, which is a most challenging endeavour. The injector components are technology intensive, with demanding requirements and first-of-a-kind performance. Full-scale prototype experiments are a must prior to implementation on ITER. We welcome the support of our European colleagues and experts in developing and operating the ITER facility."
The NBTF test facility
has been a collaborative endeavour from the start, built through the support of the ITER Organization; the Italian government (test centre site, buildings, auxiliaries and power); Europe (all test bed mechanical components including beam sources and accelerators); Japan (high voltage components for the full-scale injector); and India (acceleration grid power supply for the ion source). Consorzio RFX, the host lab, is providing a large contribution to expertise.
, the ITER Organization and Consorzio RFX concluded an agreement for the construction and operation of the ITER Neutral Beam Test Facility through the testing of prototype components—as well as later, when the facility serves as a testbed for ongoing performance enhancement. In that agreement, Article 45 provides for the invitation of "other entities in a position to further the mission and objectives of the NBTF project [...]"
ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot welcomed the news. "I am confident that with this new agreement and the enlarged team, we will achieve the desired objectives of SPIDER and MITICA and continue to reap the benefits of this type of collaboration, which draws upon the best of global expertise."
Read more about the ITER Neutral Beam Test Facility here. See an announcement by EUROfusion here.