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14 december 2018

Approved FOM programme





Taming the flame: tackling fusion's biggest challenge through an integrated, multi-faceted research approach (FLAME)

Executive organisational unit


Programme management Prof.dr. M.R. de Baar

2017 - 2021

Cost estimate

M€ 2,3


The objective
Exhausting several GW of fusion and heating power, while simultaneously maintaining the integrity of the plasma-facing components and delivering high machine performance, has been recognized as the greatest challenge towards realizing the economic production of electricity by fusion power plants. The minimum machine size (and hence cost) in the current European fusion power plant design is determined by the power exhaust requirements.
This proposal aims at i) fundamental understanding by experimentation and modelling of the physics of energy losses from, and interactions between, the various plasma regions from the core to the wall, and ii) developing model-based control systems for stable operation near the operational boundaries.

Background, relevance and implementation
The exhaust of heat and particles is recognized as the largest outstanding challenge in nuclear fusion research. This requires maintaining a high performance fusion plasma, while ensuring that the unprecedented power exhaust does not damage the reactor walls. This is achieved through inducing strong radiation of light from the plasma periphery and thereby maintaining a cold dense plasma state in the exhaust region known as detachment. This strategic programme aims to enhance our understanding of the physics of power exhaust, and to develop advanced control strategies for high-performance, low wall load operation.
The programme builds on existing expertise at DIFFER in plasma-wall interactions, tokamak diagnostics, plasma control, and integrated tokamak modelling. It takes advantage of DIFFER's unique experimental facilities. By combining experimental data from linear plasma generators and tokamaks, and comparing them to the results of numerical models, new insights will be gained into two key subjects. These are: plasma transport and confinement in highly radiating fusion plasma; and the physics and chemistry of detachment. The acquired knowledge will be used to derive model-based controllers for stable operation in high-radiation high-confinement plasmas, and to maintain good detachment of the plasma fluxes from the reactor walls.
The programme consists of seven PhD projects and three postdoc-years, with a total volume of M€ 2.3. It will be carried out at DIFFER, as well as on the tokamaks ASDEX Upgrade (MPI, Garching, Germany), TCV (EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland) and JET (CCFE, Culham, United Kingdom).

The final evaluation of this programme will consist of a self-evaluation initiated by the programme leader and is foreseen for 2021.