The star of the Swiss Plasma Center celebrates its 30th anniversary
The jubilee of the Tokamak à Configuration Variable (TCV) brought together some of the most prominent figures in the political and scientific sphere at EPFL's Rolex Learning Center. This event, marked by a shared sense of purpose and unity, underscored the exceptional trajectory of this major fusion research facility.
"It was a very emotional day," said Ambrogio Fasoli, director of the Swiss Plasma Center (SPC) at the end of the event celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the Tokamak à Configuration Variable (TCV). The ceremony, which took place on September 21 at the Rolex Learning Center of EPFL, brought together some of the most prominent Swiss and European scientific and political personalities. Among them were Guy Parmelin, Federal Councillor responsible for the Department of Economy, Education, and Research, Tony Donné, General Director of EUROfusion, Marc Lachaise, Director of Fusion for Energy (F4E), and Alain Becoulet, General Director of ITER. In front of a large audience, they unanimously praised TCV's outstanding role in the research toward a future fusion reactor.
We built all of this before the existence of the internet, and the core of the machine is still the same today
Considered one of Europe's most important fusion research facilities, the Tokamak à Configuration Variablelaunched in 1992 stands out due to its flexibility. "We built all of this before the existence of the internet, and the core of the machine is still the same today," recalled Basil Duval, head of TCV measurement systems. Over the past 30 years, the Swiss Plasma Center's Tokamak has enabled critical discoveries, including the proposal of unprecedented plasma shapes such as the "snowflake" or "negative triangularity," as demonstrated Stefano Coda, head of TCV physics, during the scientific part of the ceremony. The event also served as a reminder of upcoming challenges. Sophie Gorno, doctoral assistant at the SPC, and Christian Theiler, professor at the SPC, shed light on the future possibilities that will lead to the development of fusion reactors capable of providing carbon-neutral energy worldwide.
Fusion is one of humanity's central dreams
"In the era of the climate crisis, this crucial objective led Martin Vetterli, President of EPFL, to call it “one of humanity's central dreams.” Recognizing the pressing need for sustainable energy solutions, it becomes clear why fusion energy is seen as a beacon of hope: “It doesn't produce CO2 emissions, isn't reliant on weather conditions, and generates no long-lived radioactive waste, as pointed out by the Federal Councillor. In other words, fusion offers the promise of a clean, stable, and abundant source of electricity for future generations." This observation is shared by Per Lagergren, Deputy Head of Delegation within the Delegation of the European Union to Switzerland and to the Principality of Liechtenstein: "Fusion aligns perfectly with the overall goal of zero carbon emissions. The European Union recognizes the importance and potential of fusion and strongly supports it through research programs."
What unites us today is a machine, but what I see behind it are people
As emphasized by all participants, progress is a collective effort. Since the launch of the Tokamak à Configuration Variable, a large community of physicists, engineers, students and technicians have been working on it every day. This anniversary provided an opportunity for the Director of the Swiss Plasma Center to acknowledge their dedication and express gratitude for the support received from EPFL, the Swiss Confederation, and Europe. "What unites us today is a machine, but what I see behind it are people, concluded Marc Lachaise. We are proud to work with you. We have a lot to do together, and the history of fusion will span multiple generations."