JET achieved fusion energy record – FinnFusion scientists closely involved

Record results announced today are the clearest demonstration in a quarter of a century of the potential for fusion energy to deliver safe and sustainable low-carbon energy.

JET’s record DT shot #99971 (EUROfusion Consortium)

Researchers from the EUROfusion consortium – 4,800 experts, students and staff from across Europe, co-funded by the European Commission and including FinnFusion researchers from VTT, Aalto University and University of Helsinki – used the Joint European Torus (JET) device to release a record 59 megajoules of sustained fusion energy. This energy was released in one plasma discharge, about 10 seconds, and would be enough to boil a barrel of water.

This achievement on JET, the largest and most powerful operational tokamak in the world at the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) site in Oxford, almost triples the previous fusion energy record of 21.7 megajoules set there in 1997. It comes as part of a dedicated experimental campaign designed by EUROfusion to test over two decades’ worth of advances in fusion and optimally prepare for the start of the international ITER project.

The record and the scientific data from these crucial experiments are a major boost for ITER, the larger and more advanced version of JET. ITER is a fusion research project based in the south of France. Supported by seven members – China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the USA – ITER aims to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy.

Antti Salmi and Anu Kirjasuo (VTT) analysing experimental data from JET.

Tuomas Tala, FinnFusion Programme Manager, has devoted most of his scientific career to JET and participated hand-on also in the now completed successful campaign. He comments: “Many FinnFusion people have had key roles in coordinating these and preparatory experiments. For instance, we are now analysing the results and looking how much the fusion reactions heated the plasma. This alpha heating is essential for a self-sustained fusion burn in future devices“.

Tuomas also emphasizes the importance of the European collaboration for Finland: “These experiments are a culmination of several years of preparation, and JET has now exceeded the goals that were set in the 1980’s. Being part of the European team in JET has been an invaluable opportunity for Finland to gain such leading scientific expertise”.

Mathias Groth, Professor for Nuclear Engineering at Aalto University remarked: “The JET deuterium-tritium experiments in 2021 were a unique and exciting opportunity for students and junior-level researchers at Aalto University to experience fusion closest to the burning plasmas foreseen in ITER. These researchers will be the future ITER operators, plasma-performance optimizers and data analysists. Our research into the physics of plasma confinement, fast-particle physics and plasma-wall interactions significantly contributed to the success of the JET fusion energy world record in 2021“.

Read more at:

EUROfusion’s press release

VTT’s press release

Aalto University’s press release