SPIDER is switched on and produces its first plasma!
Representatives of Consorzio RFX, F4E, ITER Organization, ITER India, European and Italian authorities getting ready to launch the first SPIDER plasma.
“Pulse on!” said the chief operator from the SPIDER Control Room and
instantly the 350 guests in vast hall of the ITER Neutral Beam Test Facility (NBTF)
started the countdown. Only few seconds
were left for the Director General of ITER Organization to press the button so
as to trigger off the first plasma of SPIDER—the world’s most powerful negative
ion beam source. A decade of research and manufacturing carried out by Consorzio
RFX, F4E, European companies, laboratories, ITER India and ITER Organization were
reaching a crescendo. All eyes were on
stage. The tension started to build up as representatives from the SPIDER
Parties together with political authorities were getting ready to make history.
The cameras placed in the vacuum vessel
of the beam source were now transmitting live from the core of the machine. The
audience started to count 5-4-3-2-1…plasma! A spark illuminated the big screen
on stage. The first SPIDER plasma was now paving the way for the one that will
follow in MITICA, the real-scale ITER neutral beam injector prototype, which
will be operational in a couple of years, assembled a few metres away. And
MITICA, in turn, would pass the torch to ITER.
The room was charged with emotion and excitement. A big round of
applause, almost like a wave of energy, spread in the hall. The feeling was
contagious, euphoric and uplifting. The spark they had witnessed represented
years of collaboration which turned into a celebration. A dancer dressed in
white moved gracefully through the audience, holding a ball on which beams of
light were thrown upon and were deflected in the entire hall. A quartet playing
Vivaldi’s “Gloria” filled the hall with music as the beams of light caressed
the big concrete door, known as the bioshield, protecting the beam source.
Slowly the door opened and revealed SPIDER almost like a hidden treasure coming
to light. It was epic. Art and science, two of Europe’s finest hallmarks, fused
in perfect harmony to set the tone of the inauguration ceremony.
during the final act of the SPIDER Inauguration
Keynote speakers praised the role of science and Italy’s role as a Host
of the ITER NBTF. Francesco Gnesotto, President of Consorzio RFX, paid tribute
to the members of staff, all contributors and the founding father of the
facility—Giorgio Rostagni. The mayor of Padua, Sergio Giordani, welcomed the
establishment of this “centre of scientific excellence” in the city where Galileo
held a chair at the University of Padua. Salvatore La Rosa, representing Italy’s
Ministry of Universities and Education, stressed the importance of R&D and
the commitment of the new government to maintain this as a priority. Carles
Dedeu, representing the European Commission, and Flavio Zanonato, Member of
European Parliament, used this opportunity to remind audiences of the EU’s commitment
to ITER and its potential in changing the energy mix. Bernard Bigot described
this day as “an important achievement” for ITER and the fusion community.
Johannes Schwemmer, Director of F4E, argued that SPIDER built a bridge between
business and science. And last, but not least, Chandramouli Rotti, representing
ITER India, highlighted the need of sharing technical knowhow which is
essential for progress.
staff present at the SPIDER inauguration ceremony (L-R) S. Galvan, B. Devi, M.
Simon, F. Paolucci, J. Schwemmer, T. Bonicelli, A. Garbuglia, V. Pilard, F.
Cauvard, C. Labate, A. Masiello, A. Apollonatos
During a round table discussion, companies highlighted the industrial
benefits stemming from fusion and explained how SPIDER helped them grow, learn,
expand their supply chain and become familiar with the fusion community.
Charles-Antoine Goffin (Thales) described the importance to be involved in
research projects in order to remain competitive. Giuseppe Taddia (OCEM) listed
reputation, staff motivation and market expansion as some of the direct benefits.
Fabien Siroti (ATT) mentioned how SPIDER enabled smaller companies to work with
bigger ones and create partnerships. Christian Eckardt (PVA Tepla) talked about
the way SPIDER offered a new level playing field in line with Big Science
business opportunities. Michele Tamagnone (Delta Ti Impianti) described how
SPIDER has proven to be a good school to sharpen project management skills and
apply new standards.
(L-R) Giuseppe Taddia (OCEM), Charles-Antoine Goffin (Thales), Aris
Apollonatos (F4E), Fabien Siroti (ATT), Christian Eckardt (PVA Tepla), Michele
Tamagnone (Delta Ti Impianti)
You may wonder why the ITER Neutral Beam Test Facility is a key step
in the fusion roadmap. When ITER starts producing energy through the fusion of
hydrogen atoms, it will rely on very powerful heating devices to achieve the
necessary 150 million °C for the fusion reactions to occur. The power-horses of
the ITER heating systems are two neutral beam injectors, with a third as an
option during operation. Although neutral beam injection is routinely used for
plasma heating in fusion devices, the size of ITER poses a set of challenges:
particle beams have to be much thicker and individual particles have to be much
faster to travel far into the core of the plasma. SPIDER (Source for the
Production of Ions of Deuterium Extracted from a Radiofrequency plasma) will
help developing this new technology.
beam source illuminated
The experiment is built on the premises of Consorzio RFX, located in
Padua, Italy. SPIDER also represents a unique international collaboration.
Italy and Consorzio RFX have provided the facility and a large contribution
towards the personnel. The team of
Consorzio RFX will also be responsible for the operation of SPIDER. F4E has
procured, financed and supervised the fabrication of most of the components,
building on the expertise of European industry and research organisations. ITER
India, managing India’s contribution to ITER, has also provided important
equipment. ITER Organization, has led
the design and oversight, and when it operates the ITER machine it will use the
knowledge generated in the NTBF.
To learn more about the SPIDER experiment and its contributors click here