The Laboratory for Plasma Physics of the Ecole Royale Militaire / Koninklijke Militaire School (LPP-ERM/KMS) is conducting experimental and theoretical research on plasma physics and fusion energy in the framework of the European thermonuclear fusion research programme. Nuclear fusion is a clean and safe source of energy which could play a significant role in the energy mix in the second half of the 21st century.
The LPP-ERM/KMS has focused more particularly on the development of Ion Cyclotron Resonance Heating (ICRH) systems: these systems are essential to heat the fusion plasma and to reach the temperatures required for the fusion reactions. They are based on a very specific interaction between charged particles (ions) in a magnetic field, and electromagnetic waves whose frequency is comparable with the characteristic rotation frequency of the particles along the magnetic field lines. During this resonant interaction part of the wave energy is transmitted to the ions.
The LPP has developed a strong and active expertise in the physics of ICRH. Experiments were performed on various experimental devices. The theoretical aspects of the wave-particle interaction are also studied with the help of numerical codes developed within the LPP. Another aspect of the LPP’s expertise lies in the development of heating antennas for ICRH. Dedicated heating systems were developed for many experimental devices, such as TEXTOR (Germany) and JET (UK).
Within this programme, LPP-ERM/KMS is an active partner, together with all the other European Fusion Laboratories, in the scientific exploitation of the JET facilities in Culham (UK), the W7-X stellarator in Greisfwald (Germany) and in preparing the Next Step devices of the world fusion program, ITER and DEMO. ITER is being built in Cadarache (France), and is an experimental device designed to demonstrate the feasibility of a fusion reactor with a gain factor of 10. The next step DEMO will be the demonstration fusion reactor with a power output comparable with a standard current power plant.
LPP-ERM/KMS is also a member of the TEC, the Trilateral Euregio Cluster, which bundles the fusion efforts of LPP-ERM/KMS (Belgium), FOM-Rijnhuizen (the Netherlands) and IPP-Forschungzentrum Jülich (Germany).