The Laboratorio Nacional de Fusión carries out research in the following areas:
- Plasma physics
Since its commissioning in 1998, the stellarator TJ-II has consistently made important contributions to the study of magnetically confined plasmas. It has proven to be an ideal platform for the development and testing of innovative ideas and diagnostics. This has provided the key to exploring fundamental physics as well as to improving our understanding of the confinement properties of stellarator devices.
Future research will include advanced plasma-wall studies and power exhaust techniques. Indeed, to date plasma confinement has been improved by coating the vacuum chamber inner walls (stainless steel) with lithium coatings, while further studies have also explored the power handling capabilities and fuel retention properties of liquid metals (Li and alloys). Other recent capability upgrades include a cryogenic pellet injector for plasma core fuelling studies and a second heavy ion beam probe diagnostic.
The experimental work on TJ-II is supported by LNF’s theoretical division and via collaborations with international partners.
- Materials for fusion
Research at the LNF on materials for fusion applications is multi-fold. For instances, a significant part of this effort is dedicated to evaluating the radiation hardness and degradation, under irradiation, of candidate structural and functional materials for future fusion reactors. Additionally, considerable resources are directed towards participation in the development of suitable neutron sources for material irradiation (e.g. ENS, IFMIF, and DONES). Such sources, when on-line, will allow accelerated irradiation damage studies for materials of interest. In addition, an important effort is also dedicated to the development of the lithium breeding blankets (LBBs) that will envelop future fusion reactors.
Finally, a number of projects at LNF focus on the study and design of new materials needed for the construction of future fusion reactors and on the characterization of their properties, as well as on the development of associated technologies such as remote handling.