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Australian researchers attend meeting on world’s largest fusion energy project

The global engineering project to develop fusion energy, ITER, is now 60 per cent complete, with scientists from around the world attending the latest coordinating committee of the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA) in France.

International fusion researchers, including Dr Richard Garrett from Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, attended the meeting. It was the first time an ANSTO representative has taken part in the gathering, which brings together an international network of fusion scientists and machines dedicated to solving scientific questions related to ITER.

ITER is seeing the collaboration of 35 nations to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy. 

ITER will be also the first fusion device to test the integrated technologies, materials, and physics regimes necessary for the commercial production of fusion-based electricity.

“The world’s largest engineering project to develop fusion energy is now 60 per cent complete, and we could see evidence of the progress on our tour,” said Garrett.

“The innovation involved in this undertaking extends to all areas of a project that has the potential to deliver safe, non-carbon emitting and virtually limitless energy.”

The ITPA has been conduting tokamak physics research and development activities, which have resulted in the achievement of a broad physics basis essential for the ITER design and which will help progress toward fusion energy more generally.

Australia joined this body a little over a year ago following execution of an ANSTO-ITER cooperation agreement in 2016. 

Australia will host a meeting of the ITPA’s Plasma Diagnostics Topical Group, at ANU in April.  The sub-group aims to identify and resolve the key diagnostic issues that might arise both in plasma control and in the analysis of ITER plasmas and in the reactor grade (high fusion gain) plasmas that will follow ITER. Professor John Howard and Dr Clive Michael of ANU represent Australia on this group.  

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