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IGNITOR is the Italian name for a planned tokamak device, developed by ENEA. As of 2018, the device has not been constructed.

Started in 1977 by Prof. Bruno Coppi at MIT, IGNITOR based on the 1970s Alcator machine at MIT which pioneered the high magnetic field approach to plasma magnetic confinement, continued with the Alcator C/C-Mod at MIT and the FT/FTU series of experiments.[1] It was initially proposed to be built “in the area of the former Caorso nuclear power station”. The currently intended location is at Troitsk near Moscow.

Compared to the ITER international project, IGNITOR is smaller. IGNITOR is designed to produce approximately 100 MW of fusion power (and ITER to produce ~500 MW fusion power). As a result ITER reactor is some 19,000 tons[vague] in weight while the IGNITOR is only 500 tons in weight.


At a meeting with the scientific attachés of the European embassies in Moscow in early February 2010 Mikhail Kovalchuk, Director of the Kurchatov Institute, announced that an initiative aimed at developing a fast paced joint research programme in nuclear fusion research was strongly supported by the Governments of Russia and Italy.[2]

The original proposal had been initiated earlier by Evgeny Velikhov (President of the Kurchatov Institute) and Bruno Coppi (Head of the High Energy Plasmas Undertaking, MIT) during the early developments of the Alcator C-Mod programme at MIT, where well known scientists of the Kurchatov Institute made key contributions to experiments that identified the unique confinement and purity properties of the high density plasmas produced by the high field Alcator machine. In effects this investigated, for the first time, physical processes leading to attain self-sustained fusion burning plasmas.

The collaboration with the Kurchatov Institute is directed at the construction of the Ignitor machine, the first experiment proposed to achieve ignition conditions by nuclear fusion reactions on the basis of existing knowledge of plasma physics and available technologies. Ignitor is part of the line of research on high magnetic field, experiments producing high density plasmas that began with the Alcator and the Frascati Torus programs at MIT and in Italy, respectively. It remains, at the world level, the only experiment capable of reaching ignition by the magnetic field confinement approach. However, several fusion scientists have contested the claim made for IGNITOR that it is a bigger step towards fusion power than the international ITER project.[3]

According to existing plans, Ignitor will be installed at the Triniti site at Troitsk near Moscow that has facilities which can be upgraded to house and operate the machine. This site will become open and made to be easily accessible to scientists of all nations. The management of the relevant research programme will involve Italy and Russia only to facilitate the success of the enterprise. The proponents have suggested that the US become an Associate Member of this effort with a similar arrangement to that made with CERN for its participation in the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) Programme.

The goal to produce meaningful fusion reactors in a reasonable time leads to pursuing the achievement of ignition conditions in the near term in order to understand the plasma physical regimes needed for a net power producing reactor. In addition, an objective other than ignition that can be envisioned for the relatively near term is that of high flux neutron sources for material testing involving compact, high density fusion machines. This has been one of the incentives that have led the Ignitor Project to adopt magnesium diboride (MgB2) superconducting cables in the machine design, a first in fusion research. Accordingly, the largest coils (about 5 m diameter) of the machine will be made entirely of MgB2 cables.

In the context of the Italy-Russia summit meeting held in Milan on 26 April 2010[4] the agreement to proceed with the proposed joint Ignitor program has been signed. The participants, from the Russian side, have included the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, the Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko, and the Vice Minister of Education and Research Sergey Mazurenko. Participants from the Italian side have included Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister Valentino Valentini (who had a key role in forging the agreement on the Ignitor program), and the Minister of Education and Research Mariastella Gelmini who, together with Sergey Mazurenko, signed the agreement in the presence of the two Prime Ministers.[1][5]

After 2010

The IGNITOR project Conceptual Design Report was prepared by a joint Russian-Italian working group in 2015. An informal exchange meeting took place in 2017.[6]

Progress on construction

Some full size prototype components have been built in Italy.[7][specify] As of 2018, construction of IGNITOR in Russia has not commenced.[8]
See also

List of plasma (physics) articles

External links

IGNITOR website
Fact sheet says "Construction on the reactor is projected to be complete in 2014"
(in English) IGNITOR technical specs on ENEA Laboratories in Frascati
(in Italian) Paolo Detragiache, Technical presentation of the project
(in English) Recent russian contribution


Dati Camera dei Deputati. Jan 2009 Italian ministerial reply
Robert Arnoux (2010-05-14). "Italy and Russia revive IGNITOR". ITER newsline. p. 169.
Feresin, Emiliano (2010). "Fusion reactor aims to rival ITER". Nature. doi:10.1038/news.2010.214.
"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
Nuclear power in Italy, Berlusconi:"Start work within three years"
The Russian-Italian IGNITOR Tokamak Project: Design and status of implementation (2017)
Fact sheet (by MIT, pre-2014)

Mikhail, Subbotin Leonidovich; Gostev, Alexander; Anashkin, Igor; Belov, Alexander; Levin, Igor (2019). "Status and tasks of TRINITI site infrastructure modernization for the Ignitor project". Fusion Engineering and Design. 146: 866–869. doi:10.1016/j.fusengdes.2019.01.101. ISSN 0920-3796.


Fusion power, processes and devices
Core topics

Nuclear fusion
Timeline List of experiments Nuclear power Nuclear reactor Atomic nucleus Fusion energy gain factor Lawson criterion Magnetohydrodynamics Neutron Plasma


Alpha process Triple-alpha process CNO cycle Fusor Helium flash Nova
remnants Proton-proton chain Carbon-burning Lithium burning Neon-burning Oxygen-burning Silicon-burning R-process S-process


Dense plasma focus Field-reversed configuration Levitated dipole Magnetic mirror
Bumpy torus Reversed field pinch Spheromak Stellarator Tokamak
Spherical Z-pinch


Bubble (acoustic) Laser-driven Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion


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Devices, experiments
Magnetic confinement




Canada STOR-M United States Alcator C-Mod ARC
SPARC DIII-D Electric Tokamak LTX NSTX
PLT TFTR Pegasus Brazil ETE Mexico Novillo [es]


HT-7 SUNIST India ADITYA SST-1 Japan JT-60 QUEST [ja] Pakistan GLAST South Korea KSTAR


European Union JET Czech Republic COMPASS GOLEM [cs] France TFR WEST Germany ASDEX Upgrade TEXTOR Italy FTU IGNITOR Portugal ISTTOK Russia T-15 Switzerland TCV United Kingdom MAST-U START STEP


United States CNT CTH HIDRA HSX Model C NCSX Costa Rica SCR-1


Australia H-1NF Japan Heliotron J LHD


Germany WEGA Wendelstein 7-AS Wendelstein 7-X Spain TJ-II Ukraine Uragan-2M
Uragan-3M [uk]


Italy RFX United States MST

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Russia GDT United States Astron LDX Lockheed Martin CFR MFTF
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Inertial confinement

United States Argus Cyclops Janus LIFE Long path NIF Nike Nova OMEGA Shiva




European Union HiPER Czech Republic Asterix IV (PALS) France LMJ LULI2000 Russia ISKRA United Kingdom Vulcan


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Physics Encyclopedia



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