News and Events

U.S. Burning Plasma Organization eNews

May 31, 2017 (Issue 120)

USBPO Mission Statement: Advance the scientific understanding of burning plasmas and ensure the greatest benefit from a burning plasma experiment by coordinating relevant U.S. fusion research with broad community participation.


Director’s Corner
C.M. Greenfield
Research Highlight
R. H. Goulding
Schedule of Burning Plasma Events  
Contact and Contribution Information  



Call for Community Input

The National Academies Committee for A Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research invites you to submit comments and documents relevant to the Committee's task to provide guidance on the long-term strategy for magnetic confinement-based fusion research.

Comments and documents should be sent using the Community Input Form on the Committee's online location. Input will be accepted in most common formats, e.g. PDF. Please note that all community input received will be posted on the Committee's web site and made available through the Committee’s public access file as required by the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

There are two other ongoing opportunities for you to influence this process. The USBPO is preparing contributions based on your responses to the Topical Group Leaders’ recent requests for input, and a pair of U.S. Magnetic Fusion Research Strategic Directions Community Workshops is planned in July and December.

An effort is underway to identify concepts and technologies that can bring fusion power closer to reality

The FESAC Transformative Enabling Capabilities (TEC) Panel will provide ample opportunities for the community to participate in determining the future path of research in our fields. Please follow the link above and see the Schedule of Burning Plasma Events, later in this newsletter.

Also see the Director’s Corner column in this issue for more information on this, the National Academies Committee, and the Community Workshops.

Jobs at ITER                     

There are several positions currently open at ITER that might be of interest to the USBPO community. These are listed at, and most have very short application periods. One position that might be of particular interest is head of the Science and Operations Department (application deadline is June 30). Just as a reminder, jobs at ITER are regularly posted on this website, and those of you who are interested in working at ITER should check it frequently.


Director's Corner

By C.M. Greenfield

ITER news

I just returned from the 22nd ITER Science and Technology Advisory Committee meeting at ITER Headquarters (the other US participants are Rob Goldston of PPPL, Earl Marmar of MIT, Juergen Rapp of ORNL, and Jim Van Dam of DOE). At this meeting, we considered three charges (condensed version):

  1. Review an assessment of the most significant scientific and technological issues that ITER is facing up to First Plasma
  2. Review the updated ITER Research Plan including availability of diagnostic and heating and current drive systems
  3. Hear a presentation on the status of the in-vessel coils and the ex-vessel correction coils

The ITER Research Plan is of particular interest to many of our readers. As I told you last month, the current “official” version was written in 2009. Of course, a lot has changed since then. The new version that we reviewed during STAC-22 has been reconciled with the now-approved schedule to reach first plasma in 2025 and ultimately, to D-T operation in the mid-2030s. Prior to the first experiments with burning plasmas, there will be two, extended, operational campaigns in non-activated conditions, that will allow us to bring up the tokamak and its systems, checking them out as much as possible before the device becomes activated.

Text Box: (Top) The Tokamak Assembly Building overlooks the tokamak pit, where the bioshield is now visible above ground level. (Bot-tom) Inside the Poloidal Field Coil Winding Facility, where the first superconduct-ing PF coil is now being wound.This version is very close to being declared the new “official” ITER Research Plan (IRP). The ITER Organization Central Team is planning to release the new IRP to the community in condensed form later this year.

The new IRP includes a chapter entitled “Research Programme Accompanying Construction” that I believe we will find useful in prioritizing our research in preparation for ITER Operation. Although there are many topics where research would be beneficial, the most critical is for research on the Disruption Mitigation System. ITER will continue to work to implement Shattered Pellet Injection (SPI), the most promising technology tested to date. However, the design is not “frozen,” in that opportunities for implementation of improved disruption mitigation schemes will remain into the early years of ITER’s operation. However, in order to be considered, alternative DMS approaches would need to be mature before being deployed on ITER. This is a challenge to the entire ITER community (not only the US).

I have to say that each time I visit ITER I am stunned by the progress made on the construction site. There are new buildings each time, and some of them already house components of the tokamak including coils (see photo) and major parts of the cryostat.

Long-term strategies for fusion energy

Multiple efforts are now underway to assist DOE in developing long-term plans for fusion energy development.

First, the National Academies study on “A Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research” is getting underway (, with co-chairs Mike Mauel (Columbia) and Melvyn Shochet (Chicago). The full committee has now been assembled and they are holding their first meeting on June 5. Deputy Director Amanda Hubbard and I have been asked to address the committee at this first meeting, but this should not preclude later presentation of the input we are now preparing from USBPO membership. As I’m sure you’re aware, the USBPO topical group leadership has been gathering your ideas in anticipation of using them as a basis for one or more white papers, and I expect to have an opportunity to present that material to the committee in the coming months. The upcoming U.S. Magnetic Fusion Research Strategic Directions Community Workshop will also provide an opportunity for the community to participate more actively in that discussion.

A new FESAC Transformative Enabling Capabilities (TEC) panel has also recently been formed, led by Rajesh Maingi (PPPL) and Arnold Lumsdaine (ORNL), in response to a charge to identify transformational technological developments that could enable future progress. Besides directly advising DOE Fusion Energy Sciences on technology research directions this study will also inform the second phase of the National Academies study. Three community input meetings have been organized (see announcement above) to allow you to be heard.

Plans for APS-DPP conference

Once again, the US Burning Plasma Organization will organize a contributed oral session on Research in Support of ITER at the 59th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics, which will take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 23-27. Please watch for an announcement of the selection process – we are a bit late getting started, but we do have permission from the Program Committee Chair to proceed.

We are also working to get an exciting speaker for a town meeting on ITER, but do not yet have a firm commitment – so once again, stay tuned.


Research Highlight

Fusion Engineering Science Topical Group, Leaders David Rasmussen and Jean Paul Allain

Ion Cyclotron Heating in a Linear Device for Plasma Materials Interactions Studies*

1R. H. Goulding, 2C. J. Beers, 1R. C. Isler, 1J. Rapp, 1T. M. Biewer, 1J. D. Bryan, 1I. H. Campbell, 1J. F. Caneses, 1J. B. O. Caughman, 2H. B. Ray

1Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Fusion and Materials for Nuclear Systems Division

2University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Bredesen Center

Increased ion temperatures produced by ion cyclotron heating have been observed for the first time in a linear plasma device designed specifically for use in plasma-materials interaction (PMI) experiments. The work has been conducted using the Prototype Materials-Plasma Exposure Experiment (Proto-MPEX) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The goal of Proto-MPEX source development is to use helicon, ion cyclotron, and electron Bernstein wave heating to achieve a wide range of plasma and sheath conditions similar to those expected in a divertor such as that in ITER. This will allow parametric dependence on phenomena such as erosion and redeposition, tritium retention, and changes in surface morphology to be studied under representative, carefully controlled conditions.

In recent experiments, the ion temperature in a moderate density (~ 3 x 1019 m-3) deuterium plasma seeded with argon was observed to increase from ~5 to 10 eV when 25 kW of ICH power was applied through a helically shaped antenna designed to couple to left hand circularly polarized waves that predominantly heat ions (Figure 1). The plasma itself was produced by a RF helicon source operating at ~ 105 kW. The measurement was obtained by observing the Doppler broadening of the 480.6 nm Argon II line viewed through a chord passing within 1.5 cm of the device axis. Figure (2) shows the broadening observed relative to the instrument function both without and with ICH, together with fits corresponding to inferred temperatures of 5.8 eV and 12.7 eV respectively.


Figure 1. End view of ICH antenna, 25 cm long X 9 cm diameter. A cylindrical quartz sleeve (not shown) fitting into the antenna is present during operation to prevent plasma from striking it

Figure 2. Gaussian fits to Ar II line spectra obtained with (black) and without (red) ICH heating, indicating an approximate doubling of ion temperature with application of ICH.


Schedule of Burning Plasma Events

May 29 - June 1

FESAC Transformative Enabling Capabilities
Community Input Meeting (Diagnostics, Actuators, and Control sub-panel; Reactor and Balance of Plant sub-panel)

Rockville, Maryland, USA

May 30 - June 2

ITPA Divertor Scrape-Off (DSOL) Meeting

York, UK

June 4-8

27th IEEE Symposium on Fusion Engineering (SOFE2017)

Shanghai, China

June 20-22

FESAC Transformative Enabling Capabilities
Community Input Meeting (Plasma-Materials Interaction sub-panel)

Chicago, Illinois, USA

June 26-30

44th EPS Conference on Plasma Physics

Belfast, Northern Ireland

July 17-19

Theory and Simulation of Disruptions Workshop

Princeton, New Jersey, USA

July 19-21

FESAC Transformative Enabling Capabilities Meeting

Princeton, New Jersey, USA

July 24-28

U.S. Magnetic Fusion Research Strategic Directions Community Workshop

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

September 5-8

2nd Asia-Pacific Symposium on Tritium Science (APSOT-2)

Livermore Valley, California, USA

September 11-13

ITPA EP topical group meeting

Princeton, USA

September 18-20

ITPA PEP topical group meeting

Helsinki, Finland

September 18-20

ITPA TC topical group meeting

Helsinki, Finland

September 18-22

1st Asia-Pacific Conference on Plasma Physics (AAPPS-DPP)

Chengdu, China

September 27-29

Plasma Edge Theory in Fusion Devices (PET16)

Marseille, France

October 9-12

ITPA IOS Topical group meeting

Lisbon, Portugal

October 23-27

59th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

November 7-9

ITPA Coordinating Committee

ITER Headquarters, St. Paul-lez-Durance, France

December 6-7

Fusion Power Associates Annual Meeting

Washington, DC, USA

December 11-15

U.S. Magnetic Fusion Research Strategic Directions Community Workshop (tentative)

Austin, Texas, USA


June 24-28

2018 IEEE International Conference on Plasma Science (ICOPS)

Denver, Colorado, USA

October 22-27

IAEA Fusion Energy Conference

Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India

November 5-9

60th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics

Portland, Oregon, USA


JET DT-campaign and JT60-SA First Plasma

October 21-25

61st Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA


Contact and Contribution Information

This newsletter provides a monthly update on U.S. Burning Plasma Organization activities. The USBPO operates under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy, Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) division. All comments, including suggestions for content, may be sent to the Editor. Correspondence may also be submitted through the USBPO Website Feedback Form.

Become a member of the U.S. Burning Plasma Organization by signing up for a topical group.

Editor: Charles Greenfield (

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