In the Norwegian city of Tromsø, the plasmas are free. Situated within the arctic circle, the Northern Lights—nature’s biggest display of the charged gasses called plasmas—can fill the night skies a few times a week during winter. A natural place for UiT the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø to set up its dedicated plasma research centre DYNAMO.
After years of working together with European fusion labs on stand-alone projects, DYNAMO now joins the EUROfusion programme as an associate partner. Although full membership in EUROfusion can only come by joining the Euratom nuclear programme, a partnership is possible by becoming an associate of an existing member – in this case, the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).
Volker Naulin, head of the EUROfusion Fusion Science department and former head of the fusion research at DTU, welcomes his Norwegian colleagues to the consortium: “From Denmark we have always had a fantastically fruitful collaboration with our Norwegian friends. I am very happy to see that this the Tromsø group can work in the EUROfusion context. Great to have these ‘cool’ heads contributing!”
“This step will make collaborating on fusion a lot easier”, agrees the head of the UiT fusion research group, Professor Odd Erik Garcia. With associate partnership comes an observer status in EUROfusion’s decision making body, and more importantly full access to the consortium’s research data and facilities like jointly operated fusion devices and computing centres.
Stefan Kragh Nielsen, head of fusion research at DTU: “UiT and DTU have several common research interests in the field of plasma physics. I look forward to the inclusion of UiT in the EUROfusion research programme boosting research in fusion energy in not only in Scandinavia but also in the rest of Europe.”
What contribution does Garcia see his team making in fusion? “We have focused on a particular specialty which I think will let us make good contributions to developing fusion”, explains the plasma physicist. “At UiT we have been very successful in creating statistical models that describe how particles and heat is transported through and out of fusion plasmas.”
Garcia hopes to apply these insights to describing and designing future fusion experiments. Fusion experiments operate at extreme temperatures, so a big challenge is to design fusion devices so that they can withstand those conditions longer both as research machines today and ultimately as 24/7 power-plants. “We hope to use these models to help change and optimize the designs for long-term operation.” The team at DYNAMO currently consists of three staff members and some ten PhD students.
We are in a really exciting time for fusion, with lots of big facilities coming into operation over the coming years. I think it is urgent to commit to fusion and join the community to become partners in this future energy technology. Odd Erik Garcia
In the long run Norway may want to become a full member of EUROfusion, thinks Odd Erik Garcia. The researcher has worked with partners like the Norwegian energy company Equinor to include fusion in Norway’s long-term energy roadmap. This summer, for the first time, fusion power was included in the strategy document Energi21, which sEUROfusion is the European research consortium for fusion energy, with members and associate partners across Europe. Credit: EUROfusion consortium.