The Institute of Energy and Climate Research – Plasma Physics is part of a global community of researchers who are striving to realize a power plant on the basis of nuclear fusion. We are linked in several different ways.
Our key cooperation partners
Nuclear Fusion Development Association within HGF
The Helmholtz-Association (HGF) is Germany’s largest scientific organization. A total of 31,000 employees work in its 17 scientific, technical, biological, and medical research centres.
German fusion research is concentrated exclusively within the Helmholtz Association and is entrusted to the Helmholtz centres Max-Planck-Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP), Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) and Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ). In order to coordinate their research activities, the three centres came together to form the Nuclear Fusion Development Association (“Entwicklungsgemeinschaft Kernfusion”).
Nuclear fusion is a major research priority of the European Union and aims to contribute towards a CO2-free, safe energy supply. The European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) was established in March 1957 independently of the creation of the European Economic Community. EURATOM’s central aim is the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Fusion research plays a key part in EURATOM today. Associated research institutions in EU member states and Switzerland are implementing an ambitious research programme within the scope of the EURATOM Treaty to fulfil this goal. Since 1962, fusion research at Jülich had also been conducted in accordance with an Association Agreement with EURATOM and the European Commission.
After 27 such associations had been established following EU enlargement, a decision was made to simplify EURATOM funding. Since the beginning of 2014, the 27 partners have united in a consortium known as EUROfusion. This consortium works on a joint research programme co-financed by Euratom through a multi-beneficiary grant agreement for the European Joint Programme Cofund.
EUROfusion / JET
The consortium brings together European institutions and research establishments to set up and implement a joint research programme. This research programme will follow the European roadmap to the realization of fusion energy. One of EUROfusion’s major tasks is also the operation and scientific use of JET, the Joint European Torus. JET, which is located at Abingdon, near Oxford in the United Kingdom, is currently the world’s largest and most successful fusion experiment, and makes vital contributions to the construction and subsequent scientific use of ITER. More than 40 European research institutions and over 350 scientists, engineers, and technicians are involved in JET. Forschungszentrum Jülich plays a leading role in the endeavour.
Trilateral Euregio Cluster
Forschungszentrums Jülich's fusion researchers have joined forces with their partners at the Royal Military Academy (RMA, Belgium), Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research (DIFFER, Netherlands) and the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK•CEN) to form the Trilateral Euregio Cluster (TEC). These neighbouring research institutions, which are coordinated through EUROfusion, combine their research activities across national borders in the joint development and use of experimental facilities. TEC is a world leader in research on plasma-wall interaction.
International Energy Agency
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is an independent organization based in Paris whose aim is to ensure a reliable, affordable, and clean energy supply in the long term. The IEA was founded in response to the 1973–74 oil crisis and is currently made up of 28 member countries. In the field of nuclear fusion, the IEA supports a total of nine research programmes which aim to strengthen international cooperation between the fusion laboratories in its member countries. The research programmes cover almost the entire spectrum of topics in fusion research: physics, technology, materials research, safety aspects, and the social acceptance of fusion as an energy source. Research and development activities relevant in particular to ITER and subsequent power plants such as DEMO are conducted within the scope of IEA Implementing Agreements. Forschungszentrum Jülich manages and coordinates an IEA Implementing Agreement focusing on the topic of plasma-wall interaction. Along with Jülich’s Institute of Energy and Climate Research – Plasma Physics, institutions in Japan and the USA are also involved. The collaboration’s main priority is the investigation of wall materials, including those subjected to neutron irradiation, using diverse linear plasma facilities.
Fusion for Energy
Fusion for Energy (F4E) is an institution of the European Union. It was created in Barcelona in Spain by a decision of the European Council. F4E is responsible for the European contributions to ITER. To this end, it advertises and finances work packages on a Europe-wide basis. In addition, F4E coordinates the research activities within the framework of the Broader Approach agreement between the European Union and Japan in order to realize not only ITER but also other important experiments – such as a neutron source for investigating materials for power plants (IFMIF), a supercomputer (IFERC), and a satellite tokamak (JT60-SA). Finally, F4E is already involved in promoting research activities for DEMO, the first real fusion power plant to follow ITER, which is expected to start operations around 2040 and will feed electrical energy into the grid for the first time.
ITER (Latin for "the way") is the largest international research project of our time. Its aim is to demonstrate that not only is it fundamentally possible to exploit fusion energy – JET has already proven this – but it is also possible to exploit fusion energy safely on a power-plant scale. ITER will use nuclear fusion to generate 500 million watts of power for at least eight minutes for the first time ever. Seven partners have come together to make this aim a reality: the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, India, South Korea, and the USA. ITER is under construction in Cadarache in the south of France. The ITER Organization is staffed by employees from all seven partners. Currently numbering 500, this workforce will be increased to around 1000 when ITER’s operational phase begins.