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There are no quick fixes to long-term energy challenges. To find solutions, governments and industry benefit from sharing resources and accelerating results. For this reason the IEA enables independent groups of experts - the Energy Technology Initiatives, or ETIs1.


The chamber wall of the Joint European Torus (JET) device was designed to replicate ITER specifications, providing a platform for ITER-relevant experiments.*

Jetting into the era of ITER

Policy context
To date, tokamak1 fusion reactors are the most successful and promising fusion confinement devices. Much tokamak research focuses on maintaining the plasma in equilibrium and finding suitable materials to withstand the extreme temperatures. Co-ordinated experiments, theory and diagnostics are needed to understand and master this complex science. Continued R&D is needed in order to accelerate knowledge of fusion science and realisation of fusion power through the ITER project2.

The aim of the ETI focusing on tokamak fusion devices (CTP) is to enhance the scientific and technological co-operation across different tokamak devices through collaborative research activities. This includes real-time control of plasma profiles and instabilities that aims to maintain good plasma confinement and the development of advanced modes of operation towards steady-state and material erosion studies. An important outcome of this co-operation is the joint publication of research results and the sharing of information through workshops and co-ordinated working groups. There are currently six Contracting Parties, including India and ITER.

The CTP provides the framework for co-ordinating joint experiments with related research groups and the International Tokamak Physics Activities (ITPA)3. This is ensured through scientist exchanges and personnel assignments. Highlights of recent experiments are as follows.

At the ASDEX-upgrade device (Germany), experiments showed progress with controlling plasma instabilities while the Tore-Supra (France) studied new techniques to mitigate the impact of instabilities. At the TCV device (Switzerland), prediction and pacing of plasma disruption was achieved.

In the United States, the Alcator C-Mod facility focussed on extending the operating modes at near steady state conditions. A neutral beam line was installed and successfully commissioned in the DIII-D device, while the first, successful simulations of nonlinear, micro- tearing were carried out for the NSTX device.

In Japan, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami did not result in serious damages to the JT-60SA device and facilities (Japan). In Korea, experiments on the KSTAR machine studied the control of outer edge plasma conditions using several disruptive methods. In India, the repair and refurbishment of the SST-1 device is complete.

In Europe, the new plasma-facing components of the Joint European Torus (JET) (United Kingdom) are made of tungsten and beryllium, the same materials foreseen for ITER. An independent panel set up by the European Commission (“Horizon 2020”) recognised that JET is a key facility for the success of ITER, and recommended that the ITER-like wall of JET should be used to test conditions similar to ITER’s deuterium-tritium phase of operations.

1. The term tokamak is a transliteration of the Russian term for a toroidal chamber with magnetic coils (toroidal’naya kamera v magnitnykh katushkakh).

2. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is a project to build the world’s largest experimental tokamak reactor.

3. The ITPA operates under the auspices of ITER to provide a framework for internationally coordinated fusion research activities.

* Photo courtesy of the European Fusion Development Agency Joint European Torus.

Current projects

  • Confinement database and modelling
  • Edge and pedestal physics
  • Magnetohydrodynamics, disruptions and control
  • Sol and divertor physics
  • Steady state operation

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1.Information or material of the IEA Energy Technology Initiatives, or ETIs (formally organised under the auspices of an Implementing Agreement), including information or material published on this website, does not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or of the IEA’s individual Member countries. The IEA does not make any representation or warranty (express or implied) in respect of such information (including as to its completeness, accuracy or non-infringement) and shall not be held liable for any use of, or reliance on, such information.