ASDEX Upgrade becomes European research tool
Fusions scientists from all Europe are using the device in Garching
The ASDEX Upgrade research device , operated by Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik (IPP) in Garching, near Munich, as Germany’s largest fusion device, is being opened to use by fusion laboratories from all over Europe. The appointment of Dr. Duarte Borba from Portugal’s Instituto Superior Technico in Lisbon as one of five task force heads at ASDEX Upgrade marks the present peak of this "Europeanisation”: For the first time a member of an external institute is responsible for part of the scientific programme for the device.
The aim of fusion research is to develop a power plant that, like the sun, derives energy from the fusion of atomic nuclei. To ignite the fusion fire the fuel, a hydrogen plasma, has to be confined in magnetic fields and heated to very high temperatures. Germany’s fusion research has also been integrated from the very outset in an European fusion programme designed to allocate specific tasks. The next major step is the ITER international test reactor, which is to provide the first ever ignited and energy-producing plasma.
With the "Europeanisation” of its fusion experiment IPP is conforming to the changing research scene: As realisation of ITER as an international large-scale project becomes more and more tangible, the European fusion programme will have to concentrate on operating fewer devices, but used on a European scale. Accordingly, ASDEX Upgrade with its power-plant-like structure and advanced heating and diagnostics can play an essential role. "Moreover”, states Prof. Dr. Hartmut Zohm of the ASDEX Upgrade team, "the expertise to be derived from the whole of Europe is a huge gain that promises exciting new results”.
To enable research scientists from elsewhere in Europe to utilise ASDEX Upgrade for their experiments, they must be involved in deciding the scientific programme for the device. From the beginning of the year the programme committee responsible has therefore also included external members: Eight of a total of 17 members are from IPP, whereas nine are from institutes in Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, and Finland. This Europe-wide opening of the device is already bearing fruit: The 172 experiment proposals submitted to the programme committee for the new series of experiments starting in December includes 37 from European partners.