The world's largest fusion reactor is now 50 percent complete, and experts estimate it will be ready for its first stage of operation in December 2025, with the first power plants in operation by 2040.
Fusion energy-the same process that drives the sun: potentially offers almost unlimited clean energy. If scientists can find a way to take advantage of this source, it could provide enough electricity for millions of years.
But creating machines that can produce fusion energy is not an easy task. To create it, by merging two lighter atomic nuclei to form a heavier nucleus, it is necessary to create a plasma hotter than the sun that can be stably constrained by magnets. Scientists have not yet been able to generate more power from the fusion reaction that takes place to create the reactions in the first place.
Will have to withstand temperatures of 150 million degrees Celsius. The 1,000-ton electromagnet in the center of the machine will have to withstand forces of more than 6,000 tons, which is twice the thrust of the space shuttle when taking off.
If successful, ITER, located in France, would prove that commercial scale fusion power is a possibility. That it is now 50 percent complete marks a milestone in its construction.
"What is at stake is very important for ITER," said Bernard Bigot, ITER's CEO, in a statement. "When we demonstrate that fusion is a viable source of energy, it will eventually replace the burning of fossil fuels, which are not renewable or sustainable." Fusion will be complementary to wind, solar and other renewable energy.
"The success of ITER It has demanded extraordinary project management, systems engineering and an almost perfect integration of our work. Our design has taken advantage of the best experience of the scientific and industrial base of all the members. No country could do this alone. We are all learning from each other, for the mutual benefit of the world. "
Once finalized, each of the participating nations will have the same access to intellectual property and innovation that comes from the construction of ITER, which means that each will be able to move to build reactors to create their own fusion power supply, the costs of construction and operation of a fusion plant are expected to be comparable to those of a nuclear fission plant, but without the risk of a merger and the problem of having to dispose of radioactive waste …
ITER leaders say that the power plants of fus This should be a reality by 2040, but they say that this depends to a large extent on the political support of the project, which has been promising so far. "When the ITER Agreement was signed in 2006, it received strong support from leaders such as French President Jacques Chirac. , US President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, "said Bigot.
"Most recently, [French] President Macron and US President Donald Trump exchanged letters on ITER after their meeting last July.A month earlier, President Xi Jinping of China received Russian President Vladimir Putin, and other world leaders in a show with ITER and the power of fusion at the World Exposition in Astana, Kazakhstan.
"We know that other leaders have similarly engaged behind the scenes. It is clear that each member of ITER understands the value and importance of this project "