: The Joint European Torus
(JET) in Oxfordshire, UK, first began operating in 1984. The tokamak
fusion reactor has served as the prototype for ITER, the international thermonuclear experimental reactor
being built in southern France. In 1997, JET set the record for energy returned via fusion when it achieved a power output of 16 MW from an input of 24 MW. That made the reactor's fusion energy gain factor, Q
, about 0.7. No fusion experiment has yet reached a Q
equal to 1, the breakeven point. Having recently initiated upgrades to the reactor and received €300 million in funding, officials are hoping to extend the operational life of JET for another five years. In that time, the reactor could be the first to produce as much energy as it consumes, says Steve Cowley, director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, which runs JET.