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Experts call for thermonuclear fusion research to be international

Although the European Union clearly leads the world in fusion, the European Commission's Expert Advisory Group (EAG) has said that construction of the Next Step should take place within the framework of international cooperation, such as ITER (International Thermonuclear Exper...
Although the European Union clearly leads the world in fusion, the European Commission's Expert Advisory Group (EAG) has said that construction of the Next Step should take place within the framework of international cooperation, such as ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), possibly with a reduced number of partners.

Reviewing the Euratom Key Action "Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion", the EAG endorsed the general orientation of the European fusion programme, with its overall aim of developing the necessary basis for the future construction of an experimental reactor as Next Step. To contribute to base-load electricity generation in the second half of the next century, fusion needs sufficient support to maintain this experimental reactor orientation.

The performance objectives of the Next Step will have to match the funding available, but the EAG believes that the minimum target for the Next Step should be a device capable of sustaining a burning plasma with a suitable fusion energy gain. For that, the relevant technologies should be developed, such as superconducting magnets, remote handling and tritium handling.

Priority in technology development should be given to studies relevant to the Next Step rather than to demonstrations of technology relevant to prototype reactors, according to the EAG. Also, although development of tritium-breeding blanket technology is important for the development of fusion, it could be slowed without major damage to the fusion programme, the EAG said.

Source: European Commission, Directorate-General XII

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