In DepthPlasma Physics

U.K. fusion reactor will test fuel of future power plants

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Science  05 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6435, pp. 14
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6435.14

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Summary

In the chaos of the United Kingdom's effort to leave the European Union, or Brexit, there is now at least one certainty: A leading fusion reactor located in the United Kingdom but supported by the European Union will keep operating until the end of 2020, thanks to a €100 million infusion of EU funds. The deal, agreed on last week, will enable the Joint European Torus (JET) to embark on a daring fusion campaign with a rare, tricky fuel that will help pave the way for its successor: the giant ITER fusion reactor under construction in France. The agreement comes as a relief to fusion researchers, who had feared JET would be shut down after Brexit. Now, they can go ahead with plans to gradually switch to a fuel mix of deuterium and tritium, both hydrogen isotopes. The latter is rare and hard to handle, but the change will provide the most ITER-like dress rehearsal before the main event in 2025. The same "D-T" reactions will ultimately power ITER and the commercial reactors that follow it.