Feeds

30 nations sign international fusion reactor deal

ITER moves forward

The Power of One Infographic

More than 30 countries today signed a deal greenlighting the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) - a €10bn project to be built in Cadarache, near Marseille, Reuters reports.

Those attending the signing ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris, hosted by Jacques Chirac, were China, European Union members, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the US. Chirac declared: "If nothing changes, humanity will have consumed, in 200 years, most of the fossil fuel resources accumulated over hundreds of millions of years. It [ITER] is the victory of the general interest of humanity."

The plan behind ITER is, as The Register's Lucy Sherriff previously explained, to finally crack the problem of how to tap into the immense power of nuclear fusion. Fusion is the same process that goes on in the centre of the Sun, and it holds the promise of almost inexhaustible, clean, safe energy generation.

For nuclei to fuse, a plasma needs to be heated up to several hundred million degrees while it is contained within an intense magnetic field. The trick will be finding a way of doing this without putting in more energy than is generated.

According to the ITER blurb, the reaction device is "based on the tokamak* concept, in which a hot gas is confined in a torus-shaped vessel using a magnetic field. The gas is heated to over 100 million degrees, and will produce 500 MW of fusion power".

All well and good, but sceptics claim that a viable, commercial reactor is years away (35, at least) - if the technology works as advertised. China recently claimed to have test fired a tokamak fusion reactor in which "deuterium and tritium atoms had been fused together at a temperature of 100 million degrees celsius for nearly three seconds". Whether the boffins had to pump in more energy than they got out was not noted. ®

Additional technical info

*According to the The Internet Plasma Physics Education Experience's handy guide, a tokomak is:

The most successful and promising fusion confinement device...The word tokamak is actually an acronym derived from the Russian words toroid-kamera-magnit-katushka, meaning "the toroidal chamber and magnetic coil". This donut-shaped configuration is principally characterised by a large current, up to several million amperes, which flows through the plasma. The plasma is heated to temperatures more than a hundred million degrees centigrade (much hotter than the core of the Sun) by high-energy particle beams or radio-frequency waves.

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.