ITER Nuclear Reactor May Be The “Holy Grail” of Limitless Renewable Energy
Dom Galeon, December-30-2017
Not Just More Stable
Overcoming a series of setbacks, an international project to build what could be a revolutionary nuclear fusion reactor, which will produce renewable energy, has reached a major milestone. Half of the infrastructure required for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project has now been completed — seven years after construction officially began in 2010.
More than just becoming a major achievement in modern engineering, the ITER project could be a source of clean nuclear fusion energy by 2025. And it all starts on the 180-hectare site in Saint Paul-lez-Durance in southern France.
“[This] fusion reactor work in France may take two to three years to complete, [and then] another three to four years to bring repeatable results,” Thomas Koshy, chair of the IEEE PES Nuclear Power Engineering Committee and former manager of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Futurism.
Nuclear fusion works in a manner that’s essentially the opposite of its nuclear fission cousin. A fusion reaction occurs when two light nuclei (usually hydrogen isotopes) produce energy. To harness this energy, however, nuclear reactors have to control extreme pressure and temperatures from the super-hot plasma that sustains the fusion reaction.
Stabilizing this reaction for extended periods is what those working on nuclear fusion have been trying to achieve. To facilitate things, an international effort for joint fusion research was begun in 1985. The ITER project, which began in 2007, has 35 nations working in a 35-year long collaboration to build and operate the ITER experimental device.
“The ITER device will be a tokamak, which uses donut-shaped, strong magnetic fields to produce and contain an extremely hot plasma in which the fusion occurs,” Hitachi America Professor of Engineering Dennis Whyte, head of MIT’s Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) department and director of its Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), explained to Futurism. “Tokamaks have for decades demonstrated stable operation. The key difference with ITER is that it’s designed to produce more energy from fusion than the energy necessary to keep it hot.”
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