One of the most famous fusion devices, the JET (Joint European Torus) located in Great Britain, will soon be retired. BBC writes. Many important scientific achievements have been achieved using the device, the latest of which, for example, a fusion energy record was set here with Hungarian participants.
Currently operating at the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Oxford site, JET is the world’s largest and only true fusion fuel tokamak facility.
A tokamak is a device that can store high-temperature plasma in a magnetic field created by an electromagnet. Well, not of any kind, but in a torus-shaped magnetic field. For example, the donuts with holes known in American movies or the inner tire of a bicycle are tori-shaped.
The JET has been operating for 40 years, and the first experiment was carried out here in 1983, arriving at the first plasma, meaning the device was turned on and proven successful. JET operates with a mixture of deuterium and tritium, which produces the most efficient reaction of fusion reactors. This fuel mixture was tested here for the first time in the world in 1991.
The device holds the world record for the most energy produced in a fusion experiment – 59 megajoules (MJ) in a five-second pulse.
The final experiment, which ends Saturday at JET, focuses on making the plasma more stable, better distributing the energy load, and improving the materials in the reactor to better withstand the conditions.
Researchers can also learn a lot from JET during disassembly: they will analyze what happened to the reactor materials and how they changed during the experiments. This will help in better maintenance of other fusion sites.
The UK government has committed to spending £650 million between now and 2027 on an alternative British integration programme. This includes a prototype of a new fusion power station in Nottinghamshire called STEP. Meanwhile, everyone is waiting for ITER, the world’s first experimental nuclear fusion power plant, to be built and put into service.