In a world increasingly facing new challenges at the forefront of plasma scientific research and technological innovation, CNR and ISTP pledge progress and achieve an impact in the integration of research into societal practices and policy

Thermonuclear Fusion

Hydrogen is the fuel that powers the stars - included our Sun - but it is also the fuel that will power the future thermonuclear fusion reactor in which the efforts of the world scientific community are increasingly focused. This to produce clean, safe, abundant and sustainable energy from fusion of atoms of Deuterium and Tritium, isotopes of Hydrogen.

ISTP participates in this research with an intense activity of predictive and interpretative numerical modelling and simulation in parallel to a strong experimental activity on magnetic confinement, plasma heating and diagnostic systems, in which Italy, and in particular CNR, are committed with unprecedented investments and personnel and financial resources.

Since 2014 ISTP is contributing to the activities of the European Consortium EUROfusion for research in the field of Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion in the Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe framework program, taking part in numerous Work Packages, Enabling Research projects and experiments

Science and technology studies

We participate in experimental campaigns on tokamaks, including JET (Joint European Torus, UK), AUG (Axially Symmetric Divertor Experiment, GER) and TCV (Tokamak à Configuration Variable, CH), promote specific tasks and foster intense modeling, predictive and interpretative numerical simulation in support of experimentation.

We aim at the realization and scientific success of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) being built in France, its JT-60SA satellite (Japan) and the conceptual design of the DEMOnstration power plant (DEMO).

In the framework of the Broader Approach programme, ISTP contributed to the construction of the Japanese tokamak JT-60SA, to the preparation of the experimental operation and to the design of diagnostics.

Neutral Beam Injection (NBI) and Electron Cyclotron Resonance Heating (ECRH) are studied as additional heating systems for ITER plasma. ISTP participates in the design of an ECRH antenna and the gyrotron source for Electron Cyclotron waves and in the design of gamma ray diagnostics. In Padova, the RFX Consortium is designing and constructing the ITER 1 MeV NBI prototype. Activities on the above topics, as well on the plasma-wall interaction and on the divertor are carried out in support of Divertor Tokamak Test facility, the Italian tokamak under construction at ENEA in Frascati. 

The RFX-mod2 toroidal machine is being developed in Padova for studies on the physics and technology of plasmas in a magnetic configuration called Reversed Field Pinch. The flexibility of the experiment allows scientific exploitation in both RFP and tokamak configurations with several outcomes for the scientific community. In Milano, the linear device GyM (Gyrotron Machine) is in operation for experimental plasma wall interaction studies.

Experimental activity on large devices

We participated in the preparation of the D–T (Deuterium-Tritium) experimental campaign on the largest tokamak in the world, JET. Together with the scientific community, ISTP researchers support the development of this unique platform for the study of D-T plasma and fusion power in an environment that is as close possible to the future ITER wall.

SPIDER is the full-size prototype of the negative ion source for ITER, operating at the RFX Consortium – Padova. Inaugurated in 2018, it produced the first plasma in 2019. In December 2021, a shut-down will start, dedicated to first SPIDER. modifications.

The RFX experiment in Padova aims to study the physics of fusion plasmas and magnetic confinement in Reversed Field Pinch (RFP) configuration. In operation since 1992, the RFX machine was improved in 2016 with the RFX-mod device. Further modifications are underway; the RFX-mod2 machine will get into operation in 2022.

Interior of the JET tokamak - Credit EUROfusion

The negative ion source SPIDER - Padova

The RFX experiment – Padova