Distinguished Lecture

RSPE & ECI present: The Status of ITER – the fusion reactor development project

Dr Barry Green
University of Western Australia

Fusion, as a large, sustainable and relatively environmentally-friendly source, promises to make a significant contribution to the world’s energy supply and thus assist in meeting growing demand. The international ITER Project is the world’s largest fusion energy research and development project, which is at present under construction in the south of France.

ITER heralds a new era in fusion energy research.  The experiment will study the uncharted physics of burning plasmas (the state of matter of the fusion fuel), in which the energy liberated from the products of fusion reactions exceeds the energy invested in heating the plasma. For a reactor, there are still significant plasma physics problems, which remain to be solved, in addition to those of technology and engineering (to deal with the high neutron fluxes and thermal loads on materials).

The presentation will give a brief background to this first-of-a-kind project, describe some of the design and research issues, the organization of the project and what is happening to successfully implement it. The difficulties the project has already encountered will be discussed. The presentation will also show the major machine components, the site construction, the delivery of items to the site and their installation, as well as a selection of the manufacturing activities in the countries of the ITER partners.

A theoretical understanding of this new, “burning” plasma, regime is essential for the production and control of a reactor plasma, and will hopefully provide the knowledge to simplify and reduce in size future fusion reactors. Some of the key outstanding physics issues will be presented.

Australia has a long and illustrious involvement in this area of research. ANSTO recently (30/9/16) signed a memorandum of understanding with the ITER organization (the first concluded with a non-founding member country), and this provides a real opportunity for Australian scientists to contribute to the international program.

Barry has a BSc from Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand 1962), and obtained his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Sydney in 1967. He spent the next 40 years outside Australia involved in the research and development of fusion energy. He has worked at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (USA), the Max-Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (Garching, Germany), and the JET Joint Undertaking (near Oxford, UK), where he was engineer in charge of operation of the JET device in November 1991 when it produced the first significant man-made fusion power (2 MW).

Subsequently, he worked at the Naka Joint Work Site (Japan) for the design phase of ITER, the international fusion energy project, now under construction in the south of France. He then worked in the Directorate of Energy of the Directorate General for Research (European Commission, Brussels) where he coordinated the fusion R&D of 12 “new” member states of the European Union (which joined in the period 2000-2010), before retiring to Perth where he now works part-time at the School of Physics of the University of Western Australia.

Date & time

Wed 6 Dec 2017, 2–3pm



Oliphant Seminar Room (414)


Members of RSPE welcome