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Eleven talented scientists receive ERG grants

The EUROfusion consortium for the realisation of fusion energy has awarded eleven EUROfusion "Bernard Bigot" Researcher Grants (ERG) to talented post-doctoral researchers across Europe. The ERG grants enable early-career researchers to develop innovative ideas and techniques to advance EUROfusion's Roadmap to Fusion Energy.

Fusion energy holds the promise of providing safe, sustainable and low-carbon baseload energy that complements other clean energy sources like solar and wind. Realising fusion means solving many science, engineering and technology challenges in a comprehensive research programme.

In Europe, the EUROfusion research consortium takes up the fusion challenge with its strongly goal-oriented Roadmap to Fusion Energy. By involving excellent young scientists and their innovative ideas in its research, EUROfusion accelerates its progress towards developing the demonstration fusion power plant DEMO.

ERG grants: supporting excellent fusion researchers

As Europe’s fusion research community, EUROfusion is highly committed to developing a workforce capable of solving the physics and engineering challenges towards a fusion power plant. The EUROfusion Bernard Bigot Researcher Grants programme, named after the Director-General of the ITER Organization who passed away this year, supports excellent scientists at the post-doctoral level in their career development.

EUROfusion’s governing body, the General Assembly, approved the ten highest-scoring proposals out of twenty-five submissions to receive an ERG grant. An additional ERG proposal that scored above the threshold was awarded to a young researcher from KIPT in Ukraine from a special EUROfusion fund to rebuild scientific and technical capacity, including training.

The ERG selection was based on the recommendations of the experts in the ERG evaluation panel. ERG recipients will dive into topics such as investigating alternative exhaust geometries and plasma shapes, improving heating sources, develop virtual engineering methods for neutron damage, plasma performance and breeding of fusion fuel.

The ERG grants cover the salaries of the selected candidates and part of the cost of their research activities and missions for a duration of up to two years. EUROfusion will fund 70% of recipients’ salaries, with the remainder covered by the host institutions. Four out of the 25 eligible applicants are female (16%), as are three out of the ten grantees (30%).

About EUROfusion

The EUROfusion consortium coordinates experts, students and facilities from across Europe to realise fusion energy in accordance with the EUROfusion fusion roadmap. EUROfusion is co-funded via the Euratom Research and Training Programme.

The EUROfusion programme is preparing for experiments at the international ITER project and develops concepts for the European demonstration fusion power plant DEMO. The programme supports fusion education and training, and works with companies to develop the European fusion industry.

ERG recipients awarded to start in 2023

Artur Perek
École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland

2D multi-spectral diagnostic measurements for physics investigations of alternative divertor configurations
MANTIS, a Multispectral Narrowband Tokamak Imaging System for fusion edge plasmas, is used to obtain 2D maps of plasma parameters such as electron density and temperature out of camera images. In this project, the maps will be used to investigate the innovative alternative divertor geometries in unprecedented detail.

Diego Cruz Zabala
University of Seville, Spain

Transport and confinement studies in positive and negative triangularity plasmas: spherical vs conventional tokamaks
This project aims to investigate negative triangularity prospects in conventional and spherical tokamaks in the view of DEMO. A novel poloidal array of CXRS systems (Charge Exchange Recombination Spectroscopy) will be installed in the SMART tokamak to diagnose these plasmas. Transport codes will be used to understand the differences between negative and positive triangularity plasmas in spherical and conventional tokamaks.

Isabella Mario
Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile (ENEA), Italy

Improvement of the ITER NBI performance through characterisation and optimization of the negative ion production mechanisms in a low-pressure RF-plasma
The project aims at increasing the ITER NBI (Neutral Beam Injection) efficiency by improving the prior negative ion beam. A methodical study of the negative ion creation mechanisms is conducted at the most ITER-relevant ion sources. In a flexible test stand, solutions are tested and eventually integrated in the ITER-like ion source SPIDER.

Javier González Martín
University of Seville, Spain

Characterization of the velocity space of lost energetic ions in JT-60SA and ITER
On the road to a fusion power plant, fast ions play a key role as main heating source and current drive mechanism. This project aims at developing the fast-ion loss detector for ITER and JT-60SA and its early exploitation for the latter. Expected signals are constructed using state-of-the-art synthetic diagnostics and hybrid kinetic-MHD (magnetohydrodynamic) codes.

Luca Reali
UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), United Kingdom

Irradiation effects in the virtual engineering of reactor components
Fusion reactors will need virtual engineering for safe design and operation. How can we consider the effects of neutron damage, which alters material properties and causes heating and internal stresses? Our answer is numerical thermo-mechanical calculations of components exposed to irradiation, combining simulations at the atomic scale and mathematical models.

Marco Zanini
Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP), Germany

Rotational transform dynamics due to toroidal currents at W7-X
Plasma confinement in toroidal devices such as Wendelstein 7-X relies on helical magnetic fields. The magnetic field winding (rotational transform) has a direct impact on the plasma stability. This project aims at inferring and studying how the rotational transform affects the plasma performances in different plasma conditions.

Ondřej Grover
Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP), Germany

Multi-machine study of reactor power exhaust compatibility with confinement
The international study comparing results from four tokamaks across Europe will focus on the compatibility of high energy confinement with power exhaust in a fusion reactor by investigating the operational space and limits determined by the boundary conditions at the very edge of the confined plasma, bridging the gap.

Simone Siriano
Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile (ENEA), Italy

Multiphase magnetohydrodynamic modelling of Helium transport and Lead-Lithium/Water interaction
Development of innovative and high-performance numerical tools to predict the multiphase flow in a liquid metal breeding blanket in the presence of strong magnetic fields. These phenomena affect the component from tritium breeding performance to safety and are currently impossible to simulate.

Soha Baydoun
Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives (CEA), France

Investigation of fretting wear in the cooling channel of DEMO divertor targets equipped with swirl tapes
Fretting wear damage observed in the divertor targets’ cooling system is a critical problem that reduces divertors’ life expectancy and their thermal transfer efficiency. So, the main target of this project is to experimentally and numerically quantify and predict the effects of fretting on ITER and DEMO divertor targets performance.

Wladimir Zholobenko
Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP), Germany

Edge-SOL turbulent transport in ELM-free scenarios with GRILLIX
The magnetic confinement of fusion devices and their durability are crucially determined by electromagnetic turbulent fluctuations. Novel high performance computing simulations allow to quantify turbulent transport in the critical plasma edge region, and thus qualify optimal regimes of reactor operation with transport barriers, divertor heat load dissipation and without transients.

Yevhen Siusko
Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology (KIPT), Ukraine

Scenarios of pulsed ECRH and ICRH wall conditioning in hydrogen
Yevhen Siusko proposed a new scenario of ECRH and ICRH (electron and ion cyclotron resonant heating) wall conditioning for the stellarator Wendelstein 7-x. This scenario can used to decrease the inflow of light and heavy impurities into the plasma, which allows for producing a plasma with better parameters.

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