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EU and Japan initial Broader Approach Agreement on fusion research

The EU and Japan formalised their 'Broader Approach' to fusion technology on 22 November when representatives from both initialled an agreement on three large research projects to be carried out in Japan. The agreement creates a privileged partnership between the EU and Japan...

The EU and Japan formalised their 'Broader Approach' to fusion technology on 22 November when representatives from both initialled an agreement on three large research projects to be carried out in Japan. The agreement creates a privileged partnership between the EU and Japan, and is intended to complement ITER, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project. It will have a duration of 10 years, and will receive €340 million in EU investment. 'This agreement is the result of extensive technical and political discussions between the EU and Japan,' said EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik. 'This 'Broader Approach' will be pursued alongside ITER, and will bring together research strengths and interests, making the most of our investment in R&D to make fusion energy a reality.' Mr Potocnik initialled the agreement along with Japan's Deputy Minister for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The Broader Approach guarantees Japan certain benefits in the context of ITER and its accompanying activities. Japan had been eager to host the ITER reactor, but a site in Cadarache, France, was eventually selected. The first project is the detailed engineering design for the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF). The facility will enable the testing of advanced materials in an environment similar to that of the future fusion power plant. Fusion will require materials that maintain their physical properties but do not remain radioactive after exposure to the thermal and irradiation conditions inside a fusion reactor. The second project is the Japan-EU 'Satellite' Tokamak Programme. During the construction of ITER, major experimental facilities will be required to test operating scenarios and address key physics issues. The JT-60U tokamak in Japan has been identified as being able to fulfil these objectives, but will need to be first upgraded to an advanced superconducting tokamak. It will then be used as a satellite facility to ITER. The third and final project covered by the agreement is the International Fusion Energy Research Centre. The Centre will have a coordinating role for research, simulation and experimentation facilities, and will also facilitate participation in activities by a broad range of scientists. The final signature of the Broader Approach Agreement is foreseen for early 2007. The initialling of the Agreement comes one day after the signature of the ITER treaty and on the same day as an agreement between the EU and the Republic of Korea on closer cooperation in fusion research.

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