On 23 October 2023, the team of engineers from Europe and Japan successfully achieved a tokamak plasma for the first time at JT-60SA, the biggest experimental fusion device to date using magnetic confinement, located at the Naka Fusion Institute of Japan’s National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology (QST). Engineers from the HUN-REN Centre for Energy Research (HUN-REN EK-CER) contributed to the construction of the device by developing a diagnostic-purpose intelligent camera system.
The JT-60SA device. © F4E/QST
The device, otherwise known as ITER’s satellite tokamak project, results from the Broader Approach (BA) Agreement, signed between Europe and Japan. The mission of JT-60SA is to support research for ITER to meet its technological goals, provide knowledge for the transition from ITER towards DEMO reactors, and offer experts the possibility to acquire new skills.
Members of the JT-60SA team, exchanging on preliminary data in the control room, Naka, Japan, October 2023. ©QST/F4E
JT-60SA uses powerful superconducting coils cooled to approximately -269 °C (absolute temperature approximately 4K) to confine plasma that can reach 100 million °C. During the next few weeks, the result will be carefully examined as the teams will continue to perform more tests. This will culminate on a ceremony taking place on 1 December, when the newly built fusion research facility will be officially inaugurated in Naka in the presence of delegates from Japan and Europe.
The researchers and engineers of HUN-REN EK-CER were the first Europeans to deliver diagnostics – the intelligent camera system – to the Japanese experiment in 2019. The fruit of the project, which began 6 years ago, has now truly matured, as European and Japanese colleagues were able to see the first plasma in the JT-60SA tokamak through the Hungarian-developed camera system.
It wasn’t the first time the researchers and engineers of HUN-REN EK-CER had built a video diagnostic system for nuclear fusion experiments. The first plasma in the world's largest stellarator, the Wendelstein 7-X, was also witnessed through the camera system that has been operating there for 8 years, and its iconic images made headlines around the World. Much of this success can be attributed to Japan's choice of the Hungarian-developed camera system.