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Media Corner
17 June 2019

F4E Director showcases ITER contribution and visits U.S. fusion R&D hubs

From left to right: F4E Director J. Schwemmer in front of the SUMMIT supercomputer together with Director J. Wells.

The success of ITER depends on a strong partnership between Europe and the six other countries involved in the project. To this end, F4E Director, Johannes Schwemmer, has visited the United States in order to develop relationships, and exchange knowledge and experiences related to ITER with key U.S. contacts within the Department of Energy, U.S. ITER and U.S. fusion laboratories.

F4E's Director held a keynote speech at the plenary session of the 28th IEEE Symposium on Fusion Engineering (SOFE). Dedicated to the scientific, technological and engineering issues of fusion energy research, this Symposium took place in Jacksonville, Florida. Johannes Schwemmer's dynamic presentation about the status of the European contribution to ITER, the advancement in the work on the buildings and components and the stakeholders involved in the project, generated a lively audience discussion about ITER and innovation strategies in fusion. "F4E plays the key construction role in the EU fusion roadmap for ITER. The development of fusion as an optimal source of energy brings benefits both to the scientific community and industry and ITER is on track to be useful for future generation fusion machines such as DEMO", the F4E Director said. Fusion research roadmaps and co-operation for fusion power stations involving different, complementary compact tokamak approaches were also discussed and the U.S. Department of Energy announced a new fusion technology funding programme, INFUSE, during the event.

F4E Director, Johannes Schwemmer, during his keynote speech at SOFE


During his time in the U.S., Johannes Schwemmer also visited General Atomics (GA) (GA) in California – the company builds the ITER Central Solenoid. The F4E Director was fascinated by the complexity and high standard of the production. This visit was an opportunity to discuss face-to-face the optimisation of the transport logistics from the US to the ITER site. "We may be able to generate six-digit savings to both F4E and General Atomics", enthused the F4E Director. General Atomics Fusion Leadership Team and F4E's Director also discussed the strategic aspects of the fusion roadmap around ITER and beyond.

General Atomics' Central Solenoid Fabrication Facility

Together with a large number of scientists from all over the world, Johannes Schwemmer witnessed plasma shots in the DIII-D tokamak machine which is one of two large magnetic fusion experiments in the U.S. and operated by GA for the Department of Energy. The DIII-D with its non-circular cross-section and versatile experimental capability has had a profound impact on the design of ITER, including the development of the physics basis for key ITER issues and advanced ITER operation.

Johannes Schwemmer later travelled to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee where he had the opportunity to see SUMMIT, the most powerful supercomputer in the world. He met with SUMMIT Director Jack Wells and was deeply impressed by ORNL's Leadership Computing strategy, where the construction of the next generation of supercomputer is starting during the coming six months.

The F4E Director met with Dr. Alan Icenhour, Director of the Nuclear Science & Engineering Directorate to discuss the overall situation of the nuclear industry and current trends, as well as the experience gained from the Directorate's project on the advanced simulation of light water reactors (CASL). Mr Schwemmer also met with the ORNL Fusion Research Team, Johan Canik and David Green, who focus on plasma simulation. He learnt more about Proto-MPEX, a plasma material testing prototype built to support a proposal for a full-power device, which could be of interest for Europe, especially in relation to DONES. In addition, the F4E Director compared different procurement approaches, shared learnings and discussed further co-operation areas during his meetings with the U.S. ITER Team.

Drawing his U.S. visit to a close, Johannes Schwemmer was given a tour of ORNL's Manufacturing Demonstration facility by Director Bill Peter. The facility helps industry adopt new manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing. The F4E Director was able to gain insight and exchange on matters related to a potential 3D printed Vacuum Vessel for DEMO and he agreed to further talks about a Technology Development programme with ORNL.