In Moscow on 18 May, participants to the T-15MD launch ceremony lauded the start of the "first new fusion installation at the Kurchatov Institute in 20 years." Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Mikhail Kovalchuk, President of the Kurchatov Institute, pressed a symbolic start button and spoke over video link with Bernard Bigot, the Director-General of the ITER Organization, who congratulated them on the facility's launch.
The upgraded Russian tokamak will extend the operational domain of ''ITER-complementary'' machines, with an experimental program that will contribute to the determination of optimal operating parameters for ITER and for future fusion reactors.
Experiments on T-15MD will also pursue another line of investigation, according to the Kurchatov team—using the neutrons generated in this mid-sized tokamak to explore the feasibility of a hybrid fusion/fission model. In a hybrid model, neutrons generated by the fusion reactions incite fission in otherwise non-fissile fuels contained in the blanket of the vessel. Alternately, they are used to transmutate long-lived high-level waste products from nuclear fission (actinides) into shorter-lived products.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin (left) and Mikhail Kovalchuk, President of the Kurchatov Institute, press a symbolic start button on 18 May 2021. T-15MD is the first new fusion installation at the Kurchatov Institute in 20 years.