1 October 2015

CCFE tour

Today Rachel and I enjoyed an inspiring tour of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy led by Susan Hayward.  It was good to discuss some of the physics and technology behind their nuclear fusion experiments and also energy and its supply in broader terms.

It's an amazing place, and the images I'd seen prior to the tour had focused on the vacuum chamber where the plasma is created, and I hadn't grasped the extent of the surrounding equipment.  We couldn't go into the hall, but there's a scale model in the visitor area (see the little man for an idea of scale):

Scale model of JET experiment.

We did get a look around other areas though, which included various pipes, lasers, cabinets of computers, cables. and a massively weighty door...

Rachel and a Big Door.

Sue explained that a significant factor in making JET such a lasting success has been the addition of mechanical prosthetic arms ( they did impress upon us not to call them robot arms, but it's hard not to).

The kind of snake out of slots in the wall, and the operator can repair/measure/check/clean the interior of the vacuum chamber without the delay and risk of sending a person in.

At the end of the tour was a series of photos showing the evolution of JET as various upgrades were developed and added:











Interesting how it starts as a fairly ideal geometrical form, becoming more armoured and heavy as the improvements accumulate.

JET is a stepping stone towards the next step in fusion technology, ITER in France, which among other things, is in turn a stepping stone to a demonstration fusion energy power plant.

Glorious striving.

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