Tomsk Polytechnic University and International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor sign partnership agreement

International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), currently being built in the south of France, is called the largest energy project of humankind. Since 2014, TPU has contributed to its implementation, working on the creation of a tomograph to control reactor elements. Furthermore, recently ITER and TPU have signed an agreement on scientific and academic cooperation. Leonid Lobes, research fellow of the Division for Nuclear-Fuel Cycle, School of Nuclear Science & Engineering, is expected to work at ITER.


In terms of scale and significance, this mega-science project is on a par with the Large Hadron Collider. ITER Toroidal Chamber with Magnet Coils or TOKAMAK will be about twice as large as its predecessors in all sizes, about 10 times larger and heavier, 15 times more expensive and 25 times more powerful in terms of thermonuclear power. This project has brought together 35 nations: Russia, China, EU countries, India, Japan, South Korea, and the USA. The launch of the reactor is scheduled for 2025.

TPU researchers are designing a robotic ultrasound system to test element quality in the first wall of a fusion reactor. The equipment is being developed by LLC Intekh, TPU small innovative enterprise, and the customer is JSC D.V. Efremov Institute of Electrophysical Apparatus, a part of the Rosatom Corporation.

"This collaboration didn't come out of thin air. In 2014, we already supplied a small robotic ultrasound tomograph for the ITER project. Now we are tasked to develop a large installation – 2.5 m in length, 2 m in width and 1.5 in height”, - underlines Dmitry Sednev, Director of the School of Non-Destructive Testing.

Photo: laboratory sample of an ultrasonic tomograph, this groundwork will be used in the ITER project

According to Dmitry Sednev, currently, there is no such a large robotic device for ultrasonic testing in our country. This tomograph will be used for testing element quality in the first wall of the reactor. The testing will be conducted in Russia, and not in France where the reactor is being built. The development should be completed by 2020.

Currently, the collaboration between TPU and ITER is reaching a new level by having signed the agreement on scientific and academic collaboration. It was signed by Petr Chubik, acting Rector of TPU, and Bernard Bigot, Director-General of the ITER Organization. The goal of the agreement is cooperation and exchange in all academic and scientific areas of interest to both parties, as well as further advanced training of young researchers. The agreement provides the basis to ensure temporary placement for scientists with the necessary qualifications, practical experience, and academic skills in various technical and non-technical fields to the ITER organization. Along with this, the agreement implies joint supervision of master’s and PhD studies, exchange of young scientists, engineers, experts, and joint research with a special focus on thermonuclear fusion.

The first student to work at ITER will be Leonid Lobes, research fellow of the Division for Nuclear-Fuel Cycle, School of Nuclear Science & Engineering. He successfully went through the selection procedure for the position of engineer in the Department of Control Systems of the Research and Production Office.

 He had to go through a resume contest and an interview. According to Leonid most of his professional activity was related to TOKAMAKs in one way or another. His resume includes development and implementation of data acquisition systems for diagnostic systems of the KTM project (Kazakhstan TOKAMAK fusion reactor,) participation in upgrading power supplies on the T10 / T15 TOKAMAK, and so on. "Additionally, Russia is working on the creation and connection of infrastructure for remote participation within the ITER operation, - says Leonid. – This access will allow observing experiments in the reactor in real-time. It is assumed that each of participating countries will be able to establish a remote control room on its territory for prompt engagement in experiments without direct interactions with the installation. As an engineer, I will be in a team that will have to build and develop infrastructure and network interactions to ensure the availability of technological parameters from various diagnostic equipment to a remote consumer in Moscow and other countries”.