Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

  • European Commission
  • Programmes
  • Specific research programmes (Euratom) to be implemented by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) - Controlled thermonuclear fusion -, 1995-1998

Framework programme


Previous programme


Programme funding

EUR 46 million

Official Journal Reference

L 361 of 1994-12-31

Legislative Reference

94/919/Euratom of 1994-12-15
To contribute towards the objectives of the Community's Fusion programme with particular emphasis on improving the safety and the environmental compatibility of thermonuclear fusion as a future energy source.


The institutional research activities conducted by the JRC in the area of controlled thermonuclear fusion form an integral part of the Community's long-term Fusion programme. Building on the work carried out by the JRC in this area under previous framework programmes, the JRC's contribution continues to focus on improving the safety and the environmental compatibility of thermonuclear fusion as a future energy source and, more specifically, of future machines intended for the European programme. The bulk of the work is to be dedicated to support for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) being developed jointly by Euratom, Japan, Russia and the USA, but may also involve any other fusion reactor.

For this purpose, the JRC has designed and constructed the European Tritium Handling Laboratory (Ethel) at Ispra, the aim of which is to develop methods for handling tritium. In particular, special attention is to be paid to the verification and validation of methods of preventing and reducing tritium and activation product waste in the work area and the environment under both normal and accidental conditions. The capabilities of the Ethel laboratory are also to be made available to any other European organization which is a member of the Community's Fusion programme or associated with it.

Another part of the JRC's activities concerns the development and characterization of materials to meet the following requirements: good compatibility with tritium; and behaviour as effective barriers against infiltration of tritium with low induced radioactivity.

In addition to all the above activities, more general studies, including operational safety during maintenance, are to be conducted by the JRC in line with specific demands relating to the ITER or, more broadly, the Fusion programme, in particular, studies on low-activation materials and remote handling.


Three areas:

- European Tritium Handling Experimental Laboratory (ETHEL):
To develop, verify and validate for large-scale application concepts and tools the safe handling of macro quantities of tritium in fusion reactor devices, in particular the ITER. Two general activities:
. To provide and operate a tritium infrastructure to allow the undertaking of R&D activities for investigating the propagation modes of tritium in materials, components, equipment and, ultimately, complete process systems;
. To identify tritium transfer mechanisms, mitigate its propagation, minimize its dilution and optimize its confinement with the objective of assessing tritium transfer pathways in process plants and the environment and enhancing the effectiveness of worker protection;

- Fusion materials:
To develop and characterize low activation materials for the long-term technology programme of the European Fusion programme and to support the ITER's technology needs for the selection and characterization of materials through the development of a data bank;

- Operational safety and remote handling:

To contribute to the acquisition of the knowledge required for the safety assessment of a nuclear reactor and to participate in the following ITER tasks:
. Operational safety during maintenance;
. Passive safety in post-accidental evolution of the whole reactor;
. Structural integrity under plasma disruption transients.


The JRC programme on thermonuclear fusion is established under the framework of the specific programme of research, technological development and demonstration to be implemented by the JRC for the European Atomic Energy Community (1995-1998).

The Commission, assisted by the Board of Governors of the Joint Research Centre (JRC), is responsible for implementing the direct actions covered by the programme. The activities relating to these actions are performed in the relevant institutes of the JRC.

The programme comprises institutional research activities implemented through shared-cost projects, concerted actions and direct research activities. Provision is made for a number of accompanying measures, including:

- The organization of visits to JRC institutes of grant holders, visiting scientists and seconded experts;
- Organization of the secondment of JRC staff to national laboratories, industrial laboratories and universities;
- Systematic exchange of information, through the organization of scientific seminars, workshops, colloquia, scientific publications, etc.;
- Specialized training with an emphasis on multidisciplinarity;
- The independent scientific and strategic evaluation of the performance of the projects and programmes.

In the implementation of its research activities the JRC is required to participate in, or organize networks of, public and private laboratories in the Member States or European research consortia, whenever this is appropriate or feasible. Particular attention must also be paid to cooperation with industry, especially with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

On the basis of the criterion of mutual benefit, the JRC may, at the request of the Commission, execute projects with legal entities established in third countries provided this is deemed to make an effective contribution to the implementation of JRC activities. Where applicable, cooperation on projects may also take place within the framework of agreements for S&T cooperation between the Community and third countries. Particular attention is paid to cooperation with research laboratories and institutes in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and in the independent states of the former Soviet Union.

The total funds estimated as necessary for the execution of the JRC specific programme in the area of thermonuclear fusion is ECU 46 million. This is drawn from the overall operational budget of ECU 300 million allocated to JRC activities under the Framework Programme of Community activities in the field of research and training for the European Atomic Energy Community (1995 to 1998), of which a sum equivalent to approximately 6% is reserved for exploratory research. The overall operational budget includes the resources necessary for the JRC to participate in shared-cost actions.

Knowledge gained through the implementation of the projects under the programme is to be disseminated by the JRC itself.

The Commission is required to submit an annual report on the implementation of the JRC actions under the specific programme of research, technological development and demonstration to be implemented by the JRC for the European Atomic Energy Community (1995-1998) to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee before 15 April each year. In addition, regular assessments of the activities covered by the specific programme will be conducted by independent experts who, upon completion of the programme, will carry out a final evaluation of the results achieved compared to initial objectives. A report of this final evaluation will be communicated to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee.


Nuclear Fusion - Safety
Record Number: 552 / Last updated on: 2014-03-05