Fusion reactor | Medavia

Fusion reactor

World's first viable fusion reactor in France

A newly-released timelapse video shows the world’s first viable FUSION REACTOR coming to life.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER, is a £31.8bn international project to create the first fusion reactor which produces more energy than it consumes.

The team of 850 scientists and engineers from 35 different countries hope to see the reactor working by the late 2020s. If the project is successful, it will herald a new era of clean, bountiful energy.

The newly-release timelapse shows buildings springing up in the Bouches-du-Rhône region of France.

ITER spokesperson Michel Claessens said: “The ultimate aim is to prove nuclear fusion can be used as an energy source.”

The ITER complex is being built to contain a tokamak, a type of reactor which uses magnetic fields to contain plasma, invented by Soviet physicists Igor Tamm and Andrei Sakharov in the 1950s. It has taken 60 years for technology to improve to the point where a large-scale prototype can be built.

Mr Claessens said: “We are constructing a total of 39 buildings, including the main tokamak reactor site.

“The whole construction phase is expected to last until 2022. Full operation is scheduled for March 2027, but we are facing delays, for example with the vacuum vessel where the fusion reaction will take place.

“The schedule milestones leading up to these dates are reviewed on a monthly basis, and strategies are being developed to catch up lost time.”

The core political bodies represented in the ITER project include the European Union and the governments of China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States. Construction began in 2010, and timelapse cameras were installed in 2013 to document the site’s development.

Mr Claessens said: “ITER works like a big orchestra of scientists from different cultures, all trying to prove that fusion works and it works on a big scale.”

Industrial nuclear fusion, a long-held dream among scientists and engineers, is safer and less damaging to the environment than nuclear fission.

Fusion does not create the same kind of long-lived radioactive waste associated with nuclear fission. Waste material created by ITER will be treated, packaged and stored securely at the site for 100 years, after which time it will be safely recycled at other fusion plants.

The ITER site has been designed to ensure high standards of safety. During normal operation the radiological impact of the site will be 1,000 less than natural background radiation, and even worst-case scenarios, such as fires, would not require evacuations of the site.

Mr Claessens said: “One of the big advantages of fusion is that it is simply not possibly to produce a runaway reaction. It is not possible to create a Fukushima-like incident.”

More high resolution pictures and video are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.


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