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Media Corner
28 September 2012

Highlights from SOFT 2012

F4E Task force at SOFT 2012

If there is one event that manages to bring together scientists and engineers, laboratories, industry and SMEs, policy-makers and the future generation of Europe’s fusion community it has to be the Symposium of Fusion Technology (SOFT). It’s the place to be if one wants to find out more about the state of play of current fusion experiments, technology breakthroughs and the progress of big projects like ITER. Do not be misled by its ‘soft’ acronym, it’s the venue where big news can be released and big deals can be sealed.

The 27th edition of SOFT took place in Liège, Belgium, and was organised by the Triltaral Euregio Cluster (TEC), comprising the Dutch DIFFER, the German FZJ and the Belgian ERM/KMS and SCK-CEN under the leadership of the SCK-CEN (the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre). The symposium managed to bring together more than 750 contributions overall and 180 presentations during the four poster sessions.

One of the key players taking part at this event was F4E. Jean-Marc Filhol, Head of the ITER Department, opened one of the plenary sessions presenting the progress of Europe’s contribution to ITER and led the F4E taskforce to the symposium. A group of engineers was there to provide information presenting 74 posters directly authored or co-financed by F4E. Business Intelligence specialists were at the service of industry and SMEs ready to answer any questions and organised a meeting together with the Industry Liaison Officers (ILOs) in order to communicate the future roadmap of procurement packages. The institutional representation of F4E was ensured through its corporate stand where a special publication with all SOFT posters was handed out, clips on the progress of the works were projected and new information stands on some key technologies linked to Remote handling, Vacuum Vessel and In-Vessel components were on display.

SOFT 2012 offered the possibility for senior fusion figures to communicate some important news and reflect on the contribution of fusion in the energy mix. Hervé Pero, the Acting Director of the European Commission’s Directorate for Energy in DG Research and Innovation, highlighted the importance of the ITER project and its consequences for the future of fusion research. Professor Osamu Motojima, ITER IO Director General, emphasised the corrective measures taken by ITER IO and the Domestic Agencies in order to achieve a “unique ITER team” and ensure better integration of actors, interfaces and work packages. Jean-Marc Filhol covered a broad list of topics ranging from the latest in the areas of TF and PF coils, Vacuum Vessel, In-Vessel Components, Neutral Beam, Test Blanket Modules to buildings construction and site adaptation works. He concluded his presentation by focussing on the key milestones between 2012 and 2014. A roundtable discussion moderated by David Shukman, the BBC’s Science Editor, brought together scientists and industry discussing how to bridge the gap between research in fusion and commercial fusion.

To read more about SOFT 2012 visit

Jean-Marc Filhol, Head of the ITER Department, presenting the progress of Europe’s contribution to ITER