Lastminute deal grants European money to UKbased fusion reactor

first_imgThe walls of the Joint European Torus fusion reactor are lined with the same materials as ITER, a much larger fusion reactor under construction. ©EUROfusion (CC BY) At the eleventh hour, the European Union has agreed to fund Europe’s premier fusion research facility in the United Kingdom—even if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union early next month. The decision to provide €100 million to keep the Joint European Torus (JET) running in 2019 and 2020 will come as a relief both to fusion researchers building the much larger ITER reactor near Cadarache in France and the 500 JET staff working in Culham, near Oxford, U.K.“Now we have some certainty over JET,” says Ian Chapman, director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), which hosts the JET. But the agreement does not guarantee the JET’s future beyond the end of next year, nor does it ensure that U.K. scientists will be able to participate in European fusion research programs.Until the $25 billion ITER is finished in 2025, the JET is the largest fusion reactor in the world. In 2011, the interior surface of its reactor vessel was relined with the same material ITER will use, tungsten and beryllium, making the JET the best simulator for understanding the behavior of its giant cousin. Last-minute deal grants European money to U.K.-based fusion reactor By Daniel CleryMar. 29, 2019 , 1:40 PM Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwecenter_img The JET was built in the 1970s and ’80s as part of Euratom, a European agreement governing nuclear research. In recent years, CCFE has been managing the JET on behalf of Euratom. But Brexit, the threat of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, has clouded the reactor’s future. The U.K. government has said it also intends to withdraw from Euratom, a separate treaty than the one that governs the European Union. The U.K. government wishes to become an associate member of Euratom, a position that Switzerland holds, so it can continue to participate in research and training. But that agreement cannot be negotiated until after Brexit, which could come as soon as 12 April—or not. With the United Kingdom’s future relationship with Europe still a matter of heated debate, so is its partnership with Euratom.CCFE was contracted to manage the JET until the end of 2018. The agreement announced today keeps the JET running until the end of 2020 with €100 million from Euratom. “There is no Brexit clause,” Chapman says, so whatever happens in the coming weeks, the JET is safe for now.The JET is essential for ITER preparations, not just because of its inner wall, but because it is the only reactor in the world equipped to run with the same sort of fuel ITER will use, a mixture of deuterium and tritium, both isotopes of hydrogen. In 2020, researchers hope to study how this fuel behaves in the revamped the JET to make it easier to get ITER up to full performance. “It’s a really important experiment,” Chapman says. “We need to demonstrate that we can get a high-performance plasma with a tungsten-beryllium wall. It’s never been done with deuterium-tritium before.”Beyond 2020, the JET’s future is uncertain, even aside from Brexit. Euratom and ITER would both like to keep the JET running to carry out more studies up until 2024. Ultimately,  that depends on it winning funding in the European Union’s next funding cycle, which begins in 2021. But a question still hangs over what sort of relationship the United Kingdom will have with Euratom by that time. “That uncertainty has not gone away,” Chapman says. Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Countrylast_img read more