"I think that we must act as quickly as possible in favor of the energy transition. Fusion will not happen for another 40 years. And when we say 40 years, it's to be politically correct. ITER will produce important scientific results that will unfortunately not be immediately transposable on the commercial level, at least not in the time needed for a rapid energy transition."
The man speaking is Marcello Losasso, one of the leading specialists in superconducting magnets, which are used to build particle accelerators. They're also for machines like ITER, the international nuclear fusion project in Cadarache, in the south of France, which Marcello knows well. He moved to F4E, the European Agency in charge of the ITER nuclear fusion project, in 2008 as Head of Machine Systems, the Division responsible for the EU in-kind delivery to ITER of Magnets, Vacuum Vessels, Remote Handling, in-Vessel components.
For Marcello, "it is urgent to put all the tools we have on the table. Nuclear power is one of them. Research into fusion must continue, even if in the short and medium term it will have no impact on the decarbonization of energy. There remains a new way of practicing fission, with particle accelerators coupled to nuclear reactors, which explains Marcello's presence in the Transmutex team.
Marcello has extensive experience in large research projects implemented at the industrial level, such as the accelerators that are one of the key elements for the transmutation of fuel and waste proposed by Transmutex. It will finally be able to move into practice after having unsuccessfully proposed a cyclotron and a Small Modular Reactor (SMR) project at the European level in the framework of EURATOM and Horizon 2020. The nuclear industry's paradigm shift is sometimes slow to be accepted.
Marcello has extensive expertise in superconducting magnets, which are one of the keys to all particle accelerators. He started at CERN in 1998, where he had been working for 10 years in the Physics Department as head of the former Magnet & Mechanics (M&M) section. He led or contributed decisively to the design, fabrication, installation and commissioning of the ALICE spectrometer and LHCb magnetic detectors, the integration of the ATLAS end-cup and the testing of T2K, the ATLAS solenoid. The M&M section has been providing technical support to the CERN experiments for many years, including detector installation, magnetic field simulations and measured maps for physics analysis.
After working on the ITER project between 2008 and 2013, Marcello returned to CERN, where he works in Technology Transfer Group, answering the question: "What technologies from particle physics have been invented at CERN that could be useful to society, in different sectors such as medicine, energy or the environment? This has allowed him to bridge the gap between fundamental research and practical applications. Marcello is familiar with these links between research and industry: he worked between 1987 and 1998 at Ansaldo Superconduttori, the largest electromechanical industry in Italy, as design leader, manufacturing and testing for superconductive magnets and devices for medical, accelerators (including Desy, LHC, Dafne) and research applications. He's a real asset when it comes to transforming successful physics experiments into nuclear industry 2.0.
When he puts his passion for physics and superconducting magnets on pause, Marcello plays the violin. He has played as a violinist in the United Nations Orchestra, and this year he is part of a project with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (OSR) in Geneva.