Fusion’s wizard of Oz keen on MAST-Upgrade link-up

Fusion’s wizard of Oz keen on MAST-Upgrade link-up

Leading Australian fusion scientist Dr Matthew Hole says a surge of interest in fusion Down Under could lead to more collaboration in CCFE’s MAST-Upgrade project and involvement in ITER.

Matthew Hole (second from right) is pictured at Culham with CCFE collaborators Ken McClements, Lynton Appel and Jakob Svensson.

Formerly based at Culham, Matthew stays in close touch with the UK fusion programme in his present role as a fellow at the Plasma Research Laboratory of the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. Since moving back to Australia he has maintained strong contacts with CCFE and normally spends three to four weeks here every year working with physicists on topics of mutual interest. He came to Culham earlier this month to catch up with research colleagues, and took the opportunity to give a presentation on his latest work.

A frequent contributor to the MAST research programme in the fields of fast particle physics and MHD (magnetohydrodynamics), he is looking forward to the forthcoming major upgrade of MAST and the new openings it presents for international collaborations.

“We’re keen to get involved with MAST-Upgrade and maintain a strong footprint with CCFE,” Matthew comments. “Already we’re looking at ways we can contribute, for example in the design of a magnetic fluctuation diagnostic for measuring plasma waves, and in the provision of integrated modelling. For example, we co-designed the high frequency magnetics array in MAST.”

Australia’s experimental fusion programme centres on the H-1 NF stellarator in Canberra, but there is a great deal of tokamak-based research too. Many of ANU’s fusion projects are partnerships with other labs around the world. Apart from CCFE they also work with PPPL in the US, IPP in Germany, K-STAR in Korea and RFX in Italy. And there is much enthusiasm for greater participation from Australia in the ITER project, as Matthew Hole explained during a visit to Cadarache last month. He chairs the Australian ITER Forum, which he and other physicists set up in a bid to increase their contribution to the crucial next-step international tokamak.

“Fusion in Australia is on the up, with a lot of students getting involved in the programme. We want to capitalise on this by playing a bigger role in ITER,” explains Matthew. “We aren’t looking to become a full partner as this isn’t a realistic prospect given the size of our programme. But we can certainly help in areas like diagnostics, plasma modelling and studies of burning plasmas. Materials and plasma-surface interactions are another big focus for us, bigger than plasma science itself in fact, and that’s somewhere we can help develop the DEMO powerplant that will follow ITER.”

With the final MAST campaign before the upgrade (Campaign M9) due to start early in 2013, Matthew plans to be back in the UK before long.

“The data we get from MAST is extremely helpful in feeding into our studies in Canberra, but I’m hoping to come over to take part in the M9 experiments,” he says. “Nothing beats ‘hands-on’ involvement here in the MAST Control Room.”

Source – Culham Centre Fusion Energy

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