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Fusion world

Japan and Europe inaugurate largest tokamak in the world

It was 6:00 a.m. in La Bergerie, a former sheep barn located a few kilometres from ITER in the vast Château de Cadarache domain, and that had been converted in 2021 into a high-tech "remote experiment centre" by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and EUROfusion. Some 40 people, belonging to ITER, EUROfusion and the French Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research (CEA-IRFM) had their eyes glued to an array of large screens. They were waiting in excitement for a momentous event in the history of fusion research: the official inauguration of JT-60SA—"the world's largest tokamak" located 10,000 miles away in Naka, Japan—where the clock was just striking 2:00 p.m.

''Please show us now what JT-60SA can do!'' said Sam Davis, the deputy project leader. And the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, together with Japan's Minister for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Masahito Moriyama, and Japan's Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy, Sanae Takaichi, did exactly that: by pressing the red button, they initiated the sequence of a 10-second, one--million-ampere, 80-million-degree plasma. (Click to view larger version...)
''Please show us now what JT-60SA can do!'' said Sam Davis, the deputy project leader. And the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, together with Japan's Minister for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Masahito Moriyama, and Japan's Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy, Sanae Takaichi, did exactly that: by pressing the red button, they initiated the sequence of a 10-second, one--million-ampere, 80-million-degree plasma.
JT-60SA is one of the projects of the Broader Approach agreement—a scientific collaboration between the European Union and Japan to accelerate the development of fusion energy through advanced research in complement to ITER. Work on JT-60SA, a major modification of the JT-60U tokamak at the Naka Fusion Institute in Japan, was carried out between 2007 and 2020, followed by a lengthy period of commissioning that included the discovery, and repair, of a short circuit at the terminals of one of the machine's largest poloidal field coils. First plasma was successfully achieved on 23 October 2023. The ITER Organization has been closely associated with the upgrade project through collaboration agreements that ensured that it could learn from the assembly, installation, integrated commissioning and operation of the JT-60SA device.

With a plasma radius of 3 metres and a plasma volume of 130 m³, JT-60SA is the largest operating tokamak in the world.

The European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy (F4E) has managed Europe's contribution to the project, including the management of European funds and the coordination of the fabrication of components by Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, who all participated voluntarily in the project. EUROfusion, the consortium of 31 European laboratories, has also been contributing, and will continue to do so, by means of hardware and personnel. Japan's National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology (QST) is host to the device in Naka and manages the Japanese contribution in terms of equipment and staff. Some 500 researchers from Europe and Japan have been involved, and more than 70 suppliers have contributed to the manufacturing of its components.

Ten thousand miles away from Naka and eight time zones behind, staff from ITER, EUROfusion and the French Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research (CEA-IRFM) gathered at the recently created ''remote experiment centre'' (https://www.iter.org/newsline/-/3578) to be part of the celebration. (Click to view larger version...)
Ten thousand miles away from Naka and eight time zones behind, staff from ITER, EUROfusion and the French Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research (CEA-IRFM) gathered at the recently created ''remote experiment centre'' (https://www.iter.org/newsline/-/3578) to be part of the celebration.
At a ceremony held on 1 December 2023, Europe's Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, together with Japan's Minister for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Masahito Moriyama, and Japan's Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy Sanae Takaichi, were joined by senior politicians, representatives from industry, and the research community to inaugurate the JT-60SA facility.

ITER Director-General Pietro Barabaschi and ITER Deputy Director-General Yutaka Kamada were especially moved by the start of JT-60SA operation, as they had led the project for their respective stakeholders for a decade before joining the ITER Organization. "For me, JT-60SA is a machine that has a soul," said Director-General Barabaschi. "Its personality derives from the other face of this great experience, the social and human side. [...] Together we forged something of [extra] value—a powerful new way to cooperate in projects, which I really think provides a management model that we have created from scratch that I believe will and can be used for many projects to come. [...] With my brother-in-arms Kamada-san, we'll do our best to spread this approach to the ITER Project."

With the European JET soon to retire, JT-60SA is now the largest tokamak in the world, with a plasma radius of 3 metres and a plasma volume of 130 m³. ''With this tokamak, Japan and Europe are positioning themselves as world leaders on magnetic fusion research,'' said Europe's Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson. ©F4E/QST (Click to view larger version...)
With the European JET soon to retire, JT-60SA is now the largest tokamak in the world, with a plasma radius of 3 metres and a plasma volume of 130 m³. ''With this tokamak, Japan and Europe are positioning themselves as world leaders on magnetic fusion research,'' said Europe's Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson. ©F4E/QST
Minister for Science and Technology Policy Sanae Takaichi commented, "The successful generation of the first plasma is a significant achievement that will lead to the early realization of fusion energy. During the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation plenary session in June this year, I witnessed both Japanese and European researchers working very hard to realize the first plasma. I am very pleased that the efforts of these researchers have borne fruit. Based on the success of this first plasma generation, we would like to do our best for the development of fusion energy and its related industries, while fundamentally strengthening research and development and involving the industrial community to establish an industrial council."

European Commissioner Kadri Simson said, "Today is a milestone for fusion history. JT-60SA, the most advanced tokamak in the world, officially starts operating... With this tokamak, Japan and Europe are positioning themselves as world leaders on magnetic fusion research. [...] Its unique technology will allow for unprecedented scientific experiments, and the results of these experiments will feed the progress of the ITER Project."

See the press release issued after the event in English or French.

Watch a replay of the two-hour ceremony here.

From F4E see an introductory video on JT-60SA and an article on the event.




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