Russia’s Troitsk Institute of Innovative and Thermonuclear Research (Triniti) in Moscow plans to build a new thermonuclear reactor by 2030, Deputy Director General Kirill Ilyin told Strana Rosatom on 9 February.

The facility will be constructed as part of a wider programme, "Development of equipment, technologies and scientific research in the use of atomic energy for the period up to 2024" (RTTN).

Ilyin said the RTTN programme is a major undertaking and more than half of the institute will be involved in reconstruction activities in preparation.

Triniti (part of Rosatom, and formerly a branch of the Kurchatov Institute) has not seen such capital construction since the1980s. Last year restructuring began and preparatory research got underway, supported by the state programme "Development of the nuclear power-industrial complex", which includes a special section on thermonuclear research and plasma innovative technologies. This laid the groundwork for implementation of activities under RTTN.

“We have developed individual elements of a plasma rocket engine and have created an excellent diagnostic bench for testing these elements,” said Ilyin. “We also completed the technical design of a compact installation for plasma processing of materials a - powerful neutron source for testing materials for promising thermonuclear reactors. Our colleagues at the AA Bochvar Research Institute of Inorganic Materials (VNIINM) took the first steps towards creating magnetic systems for electrodeless plasma rocket engines. The Kurchatov Institute began to develop a project for the engine itself. Our partners include the Kurchatov Institute, organisations of the Ministry of Education and Science, and institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences.”

Under the RTTN programme, it is planned to create three versions of plasma rocket engines. While the Kurchatov Institute is responsible for the electrodeless engine, improved ion and Hall thrusters will be developed at the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics (Russian Academy of Sciences) in Moscow.

“Triniti’s task is a plasma rocket engine based on magnetic-plasma accelerators. These devices are needed for different purposes: some will open up new possibilities in low-earth orbit, others will allow you to explore deep space,” said Ilyin The cooperation under RTTN is wide, with participants from all over Russia. To better organising interaction, systems will be used that were developed at the Institute of Reactor Materials in Zarechny (formerly the Sverdlovsk branch of the NN Dollezhal Research & Development Institute of Power Engineering – Nikiet).

“There the concept of a networked scientific centre was developed: an association of leading scientific organisations able to solve problems with a more global approach,” Ilyin explained. “The concept of a digital platform was established to help track the progress of joint projects. The platform also serves as a communication platform where individuals can coordinate actions within a research framework. Now one part of this concept has been implemented as an industry project - "International Research Centre for Advanced Nuclear Technologies" on Russky Island.”

Ilyin said a new-generation fusion facility will be built at Triniti site where the TSP strong-field tokamak is now located. The TSP tokamak began operation in 1987 but was suspended due to lack of funds following the collapse of the USSR. It has four satellite buildings with auxiliary infrastructure. Major reconstruction is planned as part of the RTTN programme. “Four shock generators, cryogenic and vacuum systems, and a cooling system will be modernised, and a test facility has been created that will confirm the capabilities of the infrastructure and test individual elements of tokamaks,” he said.

There are two options for further development. The first is the implementation of the Russian-Italian project "Ignitor", which involves the construction of a compact tokamak with an ultra-strong magnetic field. The installation of this project is quite advanced and many calculations have already been carried out. The second option is the construction of a national tokamak using reactor technologies, which could begin in 2022, because a new tokamak must be built at the Triniti site by 2030.

New installations for thermonuclear and plasma research will also be established elsewhere. For instance, the T-15MD tokamak at the Kurchatov Institute will soon start operating at full capacity. All the facilities developed under the RTTN programme will have a common infrastructure. One of the subsections of the plasma-thermonuclear section is devoted to hybrid systems - fusion-fission reactors, which can be used not only to generate electricity, but also to generate fuel and burn minor actinides. By 2024, a draft design of the blanket part of the hybrid reactor must be completed. Another area of research and development is the modification of materials using plasma and laser technologies. Preliminary experiments show that plasma and laser treated metals acquire greater corrosion and wear resistance. Such materials are needed in aviation, in space, and in nuclear power. Work is also underway on laser thermonuclear fusion.

The main participants here are the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre - All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) in Sarov, where the world's most powerful laser is being built, and the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “There are tasks for Trinity here too,” said Ilyin. “For example, we are making a prototype of a driver module for a laser at RFNC-VNIIEF.”

Date: Tuesday, 16 February 2021
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