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The Programme of the 28th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference Goes Online, Despite its Postponement to 2021

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As a result of the Covid‑19 outbreak, the 28th IAEA Fusion Energy Conference has been postponed to May 2021.

The IAEA Fusion Energy Conference (FEC) is a major biennial event that brings together around one thousand leading scientists and engineers to discuss key scientific and technological advancements in the field. The 28th edition of the conference, initially planned to take place in October this year, has been postponed to 10-15 May 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is organized in cooperation with the French Alternative Energies, the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and the ITER International Fusion Energy Organization, and will take place in Nice, France.

“This is an exciting time for fusion research and the topics we are discussing will be just as relevant next spring as they would have been this autumn,” said Danas Ridikas, Head of the Physics Section at the IAEA.

Nuclear fusion has been heralded as a technology with the potential to provide the world with clean, safe, and sustainable energy. After decades of steady progress, fusion research is entering a new era. Cutting-edge fusion devices around the world are producing new experimental data to investigate how best to design future fusion power plants. ITER, the world's largest fusion experiment, involving 35 different countries, is being prepared for assembly and commissioning, and fusion enterprises that aim for faster commercialization are now attracting investors globally. The fusion community is now seeking to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of this technology as a viable energy source, Ridikas said.

The IAEA and its organizing partners have now released the programme of the conference, which can be found here. The event will feature a wide range of cutting-edge advances in nuclear fusion science. There will be 22 overview presentations delivered by various stakeholders in the field, including:

  • Bernard Bigot, Director General of the ITER organization, who will discuss the preparation for assembly and commissioning of ITER;
  • Jerome Bucalossi, WEST Project Leader at the CEA, who will present an overview of the first phase of operation of WEST, a tokamak device in France;
  • Yutaka Kamada, Deputy Director General of QST, will report on the progress of the construction of JT-60SA, the Japan-EU joint fusion device;
  • Yuichi Takase, Professor at the University of Tokyo, will discuss the spherical tokamak devices around the world, including NSTX-U in the US, Globus-M2 in Russia, and ST40 in the UK.

The Japan-EU joint construction of JT-60SA was completed in March 2020. (Picture: QST)

The six-day event will feature 717 presentations, including 93 oral presentations. A guided tour at the ITER construction site as well as various exhibitions and satellite meetings will be organized for participants on the sidelines of the conference.

“Postponing the 28th FEC to 2021 will enable us to mark the 60th anniversary of the conference series and discuss many milestones that have been achieved thanks to the vision and joint efforts of fusion pioneers, scientists and engineers,” Ridikas said.

The IAEA has been supporting international efforts in fusion research and technology development since the 1960s, with the first conference held in Vienna, Austria in 1961. While earlier conferences mostly focused on plasma physics, later editions also discussed engineering and material issues. The IAEA's Nuclear Fusion journal, launched in 1960, is considered to be the leading journal in the field. The IAEA also publishes a number of publications on the technical progress of fusion technology. Most recently, "Pathways to Energy from Inertial Fusion: Structural Materials for Inertial Fusion Facilities (IAEA-TECDOC-1911)" and "Challenges for Coolants in Fast Neutron Spectrum Systems (IAEA-TECDOC-1912)" were published in May 2020.

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