With its outstanding scientific expertise in fusion research, the German fusion program has a global responsibility to contribute to the understanding of high-temperature plasmas and fusion processes, to advance fusion technologies, and to make this knowledge available to the world. The ultimate goal of fusion research is to develop a reliable, economical and climate-neutral source of energy. The program operates two key magnetic fusion devices, the ASDEX Upgrade tokamak and Wendelstein 7-X, the most modern stellarator in the world. It also provides essential contributions to ITER, one of the most ambitious energy projects of our time.
TOPIC 1: STELLARATOR RESEARCH
The focus of the topic is the exploitation of Wendelstein 7-X and the assessment of its prospects for a fusion power plant. After highly successful initial operation campaigns the completion of the device with actively cooled in-vessel components and plasma target design for heat load up to 10 MW/m2 has just started. This upgrade is the central element in preparing the device for high performance steady-state plasma operation. The final goal is to show that the optimized magnetic field configuration is characterized by the required confinement and stability properties for a power plant.
TOPIC 2: TOKAMAK PHYSICS
The topic aims to prepare and accompany the construction and operation of ITER, and to explore and develop plasma and heat exhaust scenarios that are also suitable for DEMO. The central facility is the tokamak ASDEX Upgrade. Where appropriate, this is complemented by work on other European or international tokamak facilities.
TOPIC 3: FUSION TECHNOLOGIES AND MATERIALS
The topic covers the full range of technology and materials developments for fusion reactor systems, ranging from devices in operation (e.g. Wendelstein 7-X) or under construction (JT-60SA, ITER) to the preparation of DEMO and a fusion power plant. Approaching a fusion power plant, the technology requirements become increasingly complex. Existing systems have to be advanced to meet reactor requirements or even new systems have to be developed (e.g. test blankets for ITER).
TOPIC 4: PLASMA-WALL INTERACTIONS
The understanding and control of plasma-wall interactions will be decisive for the efficient operation of a fusion power plant. The issues are similar in tokamaks and stellarators, and are closely related to the choice of materials for the plasma-facing components as well as to the properties of the plasma edge.
PLASMA THEORY CHALLENGES
Theoretical and computational plasma physics play a crucial role in fusion energy research. They are used to help prepare and interpret experiments on current tokamaks and stellarators.
THE ROUTE TO A FUSION POWER PLANT
The ultimate goal of the Helmholtz FUSION Program is to lay the foundations for the realization of fusion power plants. While the ITER requirements drive a major part of the program, it is also important to understand the additional requirements that will arise for an electricity-producing fusion power plant.
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