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SOFT Innovation Prize: three researchers awarded

This prize, awarded at the 32nd Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT2022), gives recognition to outstanding researchers or industries who have found innovative ideas or proposed new solutions in fusion research.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, congratulated the winners and said:

We need to maintain and further develop the technological leadership and excellence of our fusion research community. Fusion researchers are constantly challenging the current limits of scientific knowledge and creating conditions for innovation. Supporting future technologies as well as staying at the cutting edge of scientific frontiers is vital to keep Europe competitive and to create new spin-offs and highly skilled jobs. The 2022 SOFT Innovation Prize is a step towards the success of fusion energy.

This year’s winners of the SOFT Innovation Prize are:

  • First prize (€50 000): GRATUL by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Forschungszentrum Jülich, for the development of plasma sprayed, functionally graded tungsten/EUROFER coating as protective, on large areas well-bonded layer for the First Wall of future fusion power plants. This technology was successfully transferred to industry, achieving a new record in coating large First Wall mockups. The functional grading, which led to outstanding heat flux resistance, opens up potential deployment of this innovation in other components of fusion technology, in high-voltage components and in the concentrated solar power sector.
  • Second prize (€30 000): D1SUNED by Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), for the development of an improved radiation transport code for dose rate evaluation in fusion application. Due to their high energy, fusion neutrons are penetrating deeply in the facility producing direct and indirect radiation fields which evaluation is a challenging task. The D1SUNED provides a powerful tool to calculate and analyse these radiation fields required for safety and radioprotection studies that must be addressed properly during the design phase to secure a successful licensing.
  • Third prize (€20 000): Dia Disk byKarlsruhe Institute of Technology and Diamond Materials GmbH, for the development of Diamond Window Technology in high power microwave applications as vacuum and confinement barrier of hazardous materials. The achieved higher disk diameter results in a substantially increased energy efficiency of the deposition process of diamond, the only choice for these applications in nuclear fusion.


SOFT Innovation Prize

The SOFT Innovation Prize aims to stimulate the research community to strengthen innovation and foster an entrepreneurial culture in fusion research. In 2022, the European Commission received 11 proposals that were evaluated by an independent jury composed of experts in technology transfer from business and academia. The jury assessed the proposals based on originality and replicability, technical excellence, and economic impact, exploitation of the innovation.

Euratom Research and Training Programme

The Euratom Research and Training Programme (2021-2025) is the EU nuclear research and training programme with an emphasis on fusion and fission research, on the continuous improvement of nuclear safety, radioactive waste management and geological disposal, radiation protection, open access to infrastructures, education and training, and through international cooperation. It complements the achievement of Horizon Europe’s objectives including in the context of the energy transition as well as contributing to the implementation of the European fusion and fission roadmaps.

This news item was originally published by the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission.

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