OF INTEREST: New European innovation award goes to KIT researchers

German researchers Christian Day and Thomas Giegerich from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are the first recipients of the European Prize for Innovation in Fusion Research launched by the European Commission. The prize—a new funding instrument introduced by the Horizon 2020 Program—rewards excellence in innovation in the fusion research program as well as the quality of the researchers and industries involved.

The winners were announced on Tuesday 30 September during the 28th Symposium on Fusion Technology (SOFT) in San Sebastian, Spain. The winning innovation—called KALPUREX (short for: Karlsruhe liquid metal based pumping process for fusion reactor exhaust gases)—is a novel fuel cycle concept for DEMO and future fusion power plants.
While ITER will rely on a cryogenic pumping and gas separation system, the gas throughput within a fusion power plant is expected to be many factors higher. Increasing the cryogenic pumping and separating capacities would require even larger and more expensive cryogenic facilities, clearly impacting plant investment and operational costs.
 
The KALPUREX design concept proposes non-cryogenic vacuum pumping, based on continuous operation (important to limiting fuel build-up in the machine) and gas separation close to the torus vessel (allowing a direct shortcut between the pumping and the fuelling systems). Tests have been performed at KIT on vacuum pumps capable of performing continually and three technologies were identified—a metal foil pump, a vapor diffusion pump and a modified liquid ring pump (much used in the chemical industry).
 
A patent has been filed for the KALPUREX process, which is expected to be of high interest to European industry. For more information on the KALPUREX design, please contact Christian Day directly at christian.day@kit.edu.
 
–Pictured: Christian Day and Thomas Giegerich from KIT