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Slovenia’s Jožef Stefan Institute Launches Facility to Advance Fusion Energy Research

Slovenia's Jožef Stefan Institute has launched a cutting-edge facility to advance fusion energy research, aiming to enhance reactor safety and performance

Slovenia’s premier research institution, the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS), has inaugurated a new facility at its TRIGA nuclear research reactor, aimed at advancing fusion energy technology. The facility, known as the KATANA water activation loop experimental setup, was officially launched on 3 June at an event held at the research reactor in Dol pri Ljubljani, near the Slovenian capital.

The KATANA facility is designed to simulate conditions similar to those in fusion reactors, focusing on studying the intense radiation that occurs during the cooling process of these reactors. This research is crucial for creating safer environments for fusion energy research and improving reactor performance.

Luka Snoj, head of the reactor physics department and TRIGA reactor manager at IJS, highlighted the significance of fusion energy as a potential low-carbon energy source. “Fusion is the process that powers stars, including the Sun, and is a source of immense energy. All the energy we have on Earth actually comes from the Sun. It drives the wind, enables solar and hydropower plants to function. We now want to recreate the processes happening inside the Sun here on Earth and generate fusion energy based on that,” he explained.

Snoj noted that while fusion on Earth has already been proven possible, cooling systems for future fusion reactors present a significant challenge. These reactors will use water for cooling, which will become highly radioactive due to neutron radiation, impacting the time researchers can safely spend near the reactor and affecting nearby electronic equipment. The KATANA facility will help validate simulation tools developed by the European fusion consortium EUROfusion to better understand and mitigate these effects, advancing the quest for safer and more efficient fusion energy.

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