Plasma community celebrates a year of fusion breakthroughs at 48th EPS Plasma Conference

Fusion Group members Tomas Bensadon and Adriana Ghiozzi participated in the 48th edition of the European Physical Society Conference on Plasma Physics. The event was held online due to continued concerns about the pandemic but featured a lively and fruitful dialogue nevertheless, with 612 attendees joining from countries both within and outside of Europe.

The event featured eight total poster sessions spread throughout the conference’s five-day lineup for an impressive total of 317 posters. Early in the week, group member Adriana Ghiozzi presented her work on Alfven wave modeling with a poster titled, “Modeling of Alfven cascades in the TJ-II stellarator with STELLGAP and AE3D”. The poster attracted numerous visitors throughout the hour-long session, many of whom had used the conference platform to look at the poster ahead of time and came armed with questions.

Adriana’s poster about Alfven cascade modeling within FusionCAT project as shown on the online conference platform

In the latter part of the week, group member Tomas Bensadon gave an update on his work studying plasma heating schemes with his poster, “Analysis of ITER performance with different heating schemes using predictive integrated plasma modelling”. The session featured a detailed discussion with experts from the plasma heating community.

Tomas’s poster about ITER heating schemes as shown on the online conference platform

The conference also featured an exciting lineup of plenary talks on the most recent breakthroughs in fusion from both the magnetic confinement and high energy density communities. Participants heard from Dr. Joelle Mailloux of JET about the recent deuterium-tritium experimental campaign that set a new record for energy produced in a fusion device. On the high energy density side, Dr. Andrea Kritchner gave an update on progress at the National Ignition Facility, which also demonstrated a milestone result when it achieved a burning plasma last year.

Another highlight came during a very brief talk on the first day of the conference, titled A historical note concerning JET and TFTR DT experiments”. The talk was given by Dr. Robert Goldston, former head of physics for the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor and Dr. Jean Jacquinot, former director of JET. During the session, the two described a bet they made at the 15th EPS Plasma Conference in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia: whose device would be the first to demonstrate 10 megawatts of fusion power sustained for one second? The terms of the bet required the loser to purchase a meal for every member of the winner’s collaboration.

If not for the requirement that the power be sustained for one second, the winner would have been Dr. Goldston and his team at the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor – the experiment demonstrated 10 MW of fusion power in 1994. That one second, however, would continue to elude the scientists and engineers at both devices until 2021, when JET pulse #99971 demonstrated 10 MW of fusion power for a whopping 5 seconds. This shot not only signaled a huge step forward for the fusion community, but also the conclusion of the more than 30-year-old bet.

Dr. Goldston presents a plaque that will be awarded to Dr. Jacquinot and the JET team in recognition of winning the bet.

As the winners, Dr. Jacquinot’s team members were set to each receive a meal from McDonald’s financed by Dr. Goldston. However, when Dr. Goldston calculated that such a gift would cost somewhere on the order of $10,000, he reconsidered whether it would be the best use of the money. With the support of Dr. Jacquinot, Dr. Goldston announced that he would instead be donating the $10,000 to the International Rescue Committee in order to help resettle refugees displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a touching conclusion to the long-lived bet.

The Fusion Group extends its gratitude to the organizing committee for facilitating the conference and to all the attendees to our group’s poster sessions for the insightful questions. The next edition of the EPS Plasma Conference is set to take place in Bordeaux in 2023 and is planned to be held in person – we hope to meet you there!

The FusionCAT project (001-P-001722) has been 50% co-financed with € 1.960.963,66 by the European Fund for Regional Development of the European Union within the framework of the 2014-2020 ERDF Operational Program of Catalonia, with the support of the Generalitat of Catalonia.

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