[PAST EVENT] Physics Colloquium - Greg De Temmerman, ITER Organization

September 25, 2020
4pm - 5pm
Zoom Link
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  • Open to the public
Greg De Temmerman

Greg De Temmerman, ITER Organization, Title of Talk: ITER: the technical and scientific challenges of controlling nuclear fusion

The Zoom meeting will be open at 3:30 pm for a virtual “meet and greet” with speaker before the colloquium begins at 4 pm.

Zoom Link is available upon request. Please email Ellie at [[evwilk]].

Nuclear fusion is the process that powers the Sun and stars in the universe. Harnessing this process on earth as a low-carbon source of energy remains one of the greatest scientific challenges of the 21st century. Research in controlled fusion started after WWII and steady progress has been achieved over the years although it proved considerably more difficult than initially anticipated. This is due to a combination of the complex physics of plasmas heated to over 100 million degrees C, and the technological challenges of “putting the sun in a box”.

ITER, currently being built in Southern France, aims at producing 500 MW of output thermal power for durations of ~400s, thereby demonstrating the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion power for peaceful purposes. It is based on the tokamak principle whereby the plasma is confined in the shape of a donut by a combination of strong magnetic fields, created by some of the largest superconducting magnets. ITER is one, if not the, most complex machines ever built, with dimensions of 30x30 m and a weight of 23,000 t and about a million of components to be assembled with very tight tolerances.

Started in 2006, ITER is a major international collaboration involving Europe, China, India, Japan, the Russian Federation, South Korea and the USA. After a difficult start, the project has reached in 2020 a critical milestone with the installation of the most massive component- the cryostat base- marking the start of the tokamak assembly, which will last about 4 years.
This talk will give a general introduction on nuclear fusion and on the physics which defined the size and design of ITER. It will cover the unique aspects of the project in terms of organization and engineering, and discuss the scientific and technical goals of the project. Finally, it will highlight the recent progress in the machine assembly and show how this long-dreamt machine is coming together.

Greg De Temmerman is a scientist working on nuclear fusion since the start of his PhD in 2003. He specialises in the study of the intense interactions between fusion plasmas and surrounding materials. He has worked in several laboratories including UCSD, CCFE (UK) and DIFFER (NL) before joining the ITER Organization in 2014 as a coordinating scientist for plasma edge and plasma-wall interactions, having the opportunity to contribute to this gigantic endeavour that the ITER project is. During his spare time he is also a passionate ultra-trail runner.