Thursday, 22 May 2014

Graduates on tour

What goes on tour stays on tour. Or not because I’m going to tell you all about ours...

Us graduates are pretty curious folk and like to know what’s going on around CCFE. It’s a pretty big site with lots of departments, different experiments and new technology. There are also lots of tenant companies doing cool science and engineering. So we like to stick our noses in. We took some photos just for you. 

Here is a picture of some of us in front of the JET tokamak, which is currently the largest nuclear fusion reactor in the world.

You can’t see JET very well because of the large amount of measuring and testing devices surrounding it (called diagnostics). This tour was also during shutdown so there is a lot of work going on (hence the scaffolding). Dragoslav Ciric (head of the Tokamak and Neutral Beam operations department) took us for a tour around the torus hall, and explained which diagnostics were which. He also took us into the basement below JET which was nice to see (pretty noisy as well). The orange bits in the picture at the top are the limbs of the iron transformer core. The white box to the left of us is the neutron yield monitor. 

Our very own Stevie Wray organised for us to see the JET flywheels- 800 tonnes of Iron, 9m in diameter, spinning 225 times per minute. Fun Fact: if one was set on a horizontal axis (like a wheel) it would get from JET to Newbury on its own momentum (that’s 25 miles!). They are set going before a JET pulse, then they are slowed down to release 400MW of power each destined for the magnetic coils of JET.  Clearly they were non-operational when we went, so we actually got to go inside one of them and have a look, it was really huge, and oily. Here is a picture of Anthony Shaw and James Simpson standing right next to one of the flywheels which is to the left of them. The red things above them are the stator windings which generate the AC current. 

The Active Gas Handling Facility was our next stop- Anthony Hollingsworth showed us round their lab. It’s a hugely important part of CCFE which supplies, handles and recycles tritium and deuterium for JET.  These gases are used as the fuel for fusion reactions. Tritium is radioactive so needs to be handled carefully. They are able to separate tritium and deuterium with their isotope separation systems and the exhaust de-tritiation facility is vital to ensure all tritium from JET is stored safely. In this picture Anthony is pointing out the analytical lab to a few interested grads!

Watch this space for information on our tours of the CCFE Materials Research Facility, the JET roof lab and one of our most exciting tenants, Reaction Engines. Many of us graduates are supernumerary – meaning we spend 6 months each on our placements, then move on to the next. The tours can help us understand more about what goes on at CCFE and give us a good idea of what placements we would like to do next. If you think we’d enjoy a tour of your facility drop us a line!

Author: Ailsa Sparkes

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