TU/e fusion researcher nominated for title of Science Talent 2021

Heat shield specialist Peter Rindt, who works at the department of Applied Physics and energy institute DIFFER as a postdoctoral researcher, has been nominated for the title of ‘New Scientist Science Talent 2021.’ Rindt is among fifteen nominees who were selected by the science magazine’s editorial board out of more than fifty entries. The public vote decides whether the nominees will reach the next round.

photo Bart van Overbeeke

Postdoc Peter Rindt has been carrying out research into fusion energy for over two years now. The common, overarching goal of this field of research is to build a fusion reactor. Fusion energy is sustainable and promising, but fusion reactors are very difficult to build. Developing the heat shields, which shield the reaction chamber from the fusion reactor, poses one of the major challenges. Rindt: “The heat loads to which these shields are exposed is comparable to what a spacecraft has to withstand upon atmosphere re-entry. And these shields also need to withstand this impact for a period of several years.”

Rindt works on the development of liquid metal heat shields, because liquid metal can’t crack under heat. And liquid metal that is lost, for example due to evaporation, can easily be replenished. That makes these shields self-healing, as it were. Rindt: “The next challenge is to keep the liquid metal in place. To achieve this, we conduct experiments with 3D-printed tungsten that works like a kind of sponge. That combination yields groundbreaking results.”

The TU/e researcher is one of the leading designers of liquid metal heat shields for the European nuclear fusion power station DEMO, which builds upon the nuclear fusion and engineering megaproject ITER. Previously, Rindt was awarded the EUROfusion Engineering Grant for his work. In July 2020, he launched his small company ESO-X, which aims to help consumers find the most sustainable energy supplier.

Everyone is free to cast his or her vote on the website of New Scientist. The digital ballot box opened today, Tuesday 20 April, and closes on Monday 3 May at 23:00 hrs. Out of the five talented scientists who obtained the largest number of votes, the jury will select a winner and a number two and three. They can present their work during New Scientist Live: Science Talent. The winner will be announced during this event on 10 June later this year.

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