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  • 1 year has passed; a retrospect!

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DIFFER, The Netherlands
Submitted by daussems on 17 January 2015

One year has passed, which feels like a lifetime. I worked pretty hard and was fortunate to visit some countries in the meantime. It’s quite a lot to tell in one blog, so this is PART 1.


To start off with, I finished my experiments on the damage of ‘unipolar arcing’, i.e. discharges between the plasma and the fusion exhaust system - the divertor. I was proud to present my work at the Plasma Surface Interaction conference in Kanazawa, Japan this year.

Based on my research, it turns out that the damage inflicted during arcs is quite significant. To assess the total damage, however, two key need to be known, the fuzz growth rate in ITER (if it grows at all) and the number of simultaneous arcs during an ELM. Moreover, verification experiments in tokamaks are essential; I am happy to know that one follow-up experiments will be conducted in the COMPASS tokamak.

After all, the PSI conference great. It’s fascinating to meet people from almost all across the globe, working on the same topic, Nuclear Fusion. After the conference my office mate and I made a fun trip to two extreme opposites of Japan; from a mountain adventure in the jungle of Shikoku to sleeping in a capsule hotel in metropolis Tokyo.


As I wrote in my first blog, even before I started I was fortunate to win a PhD travel award to Sydney, Australia. In July this year I had the change to spend 2 weeks at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The aim of the project was to apply a simulation code - normally used for arc welding in industrial application – to simulate vapor shielding on liquid metals in the divertor of the tokamak.

Well, to get there was the first challenge I had to face. When we decided on the days, I started arranging my visa 2 months in advance, which would be okay, I thought. Three weeks before, I got my Approval of Visa Processing. Great, I am fine! I was quite late for booking my ticket, thought. I only had two options, either leave the week before my project on Thursday (but I had still do a lot of stuff that week) or arrive on Monday 17 July. I decided to go for Thursday (!! that flight MH17 – as you may know - was shot in Ukraine; I almost started to believe in fate!). But I didn’t: things didn’t turn out the way I expected.

At Kuala Lumpur I got stuck at the airport, because it turned out that my visa was not processed yet (Approval of Processing mean they start processing it, duh’h!). Now there was no way I would get in my plane; I had to get a visa SOMEHOW SOON and book another flight. But it was Friday evening 21:00, all the airline offices were closed and the embassy would only open on Monday. Great. My backpack was still in the plane to Sydney (at least that’s what I thought).

I decided I needed to sleep, so I left to Kuala Lumpur city and picked the first hotel I saw in the Indian District next to Central Station. To make the best out of the worse I decided to have a blast in Kuala Lumpur that weekend (and find some replacement clothes), which I did. The next Monday morning 8:00 I was at the embassy. Well, it turns out you can get a tourist visa within 24 hours. Perfect, I applied and booked a ticket the next day.

I finally arrived in Sydney, two days later than planned. Sydney was amazing! The group at CSIRO was very friendly and I learned a lot. Since I’m normally doing experimental work, it was a good change for me to work on a more theoretical level. The two weeks were too short to finish the project, so I took the simulation code with me on a USB stick to finish it at home. 

Picture: CSIRO plasma research group

To relax from all the stress I spend some days on a tropical island in Thailand (Phuket) on the way back with a good friend (now girlfriend), who happened to be there. 

This is a far as PART 1 goes. The next blog will be on my actual PhD project ;-)