JET Torus  Photo credit: UKAEARecord energy output results announced in February are the ‘clearest demonstration in a quarter of a century’ of the potential for fusion energy to deliver safe and sustainable low-carbon energy according to researchers at the EUROfusion consortium working on the Joint European Torus tokamak device.

The most successful run to date released 59MJ of sustained fusion energy, beating the previous record of 21.7MJ set at the same facility in 1997. In its record-breaking experiment, JET produced the total of 59MJ of heat energy over a five second period, the duration of the experiment, averaging 11MW. 

JET, which is co-funded by the European Commission, is the largest and most powerful operational tokamak in the world and resides at the UK Atomic Energy Authority site in Oxford, UK. The new result comes from 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. 

Dr Bernard Bigot, director general of ITER, said: “A sustained pulse of deuterium-tritium fusion at this power level – nearly industrial scale – delivers a resounding confirmation to all of those involved in the global fusion quest. For the ITER Project, the JET results are a strong confidence builder that we are on the right track as we move forward toward demonstrating full fusion power."

Tony Donné, EUROfusion Programme Manager (CEO), said: “The record, and more importantly the things we’ve learned about fusion under these conditions and how it fully confirms our predictions, show that we are on the right path to a future world of fusion energy. If we can maintain fusion for five seconds, we can do it for five minutes and then five hours as we scale up our operations in future machines.”

Ian Chapman, UKAEA’s CEO, commented: “These landmark results have taken us a huge step closer to conquering one of the biggest scientific and engineering challenges of them all. It is reward for over 20 years of research and experiments with our partners from across Europe.”

JET Torus  (Photo credit: UKAEA)