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Nuclear fusion: assembly of the ITER reactor begins

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An important stage has started for the construction of the international nuclear fusion reactor ITER. The Tokamak reactor is now being assembled at Cadarache in the south of France, for which the occasion was announced in an online celebration by French President Emmanuel Macron. A total of 35 countries are involved in the ITER project.

ITER is said to generate energy from the fusion of hydrogen atoms and thus imitate the functioning of the sun. The cost is estimated at more than 20 billion euros. The project started in 2006 and work started in 2010.



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The project is an act of trust in the future. ITER is a promise of peace and shows that what brings people together is stronger than what separates them, Macron said in a video message. He is proud that France is hosting this project for the “future of humanity”.

Proponents hope that nuclear fusion will provide a climate-friendly, almost infinitely available energy source. ITER critics, on the other hand, argue that technology is too late in view of the rise of renewable energies.


Construction work on the ITER site (Image: © ITER Organization, http://www.iter.org/)

The start of assembly is a historic moment, said ITER boss Bernard Bigot. It is a unique project and an example of international cooperation. The hardest part of the job, the assembly, is still in front of the team, Bigot explained. The structure is like a huge 3D puzzle that has to be put together in accordance with the schedule.

Alongside Macron, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson and South Korea’s President Moon Jae In sent video messages to mark the online celebration. The participating countries welcomed the “milestone” of the project. Previously, the large components of the reactor were presented during a video tour of the construction site near Cadarache, around 60 kilometers northeast of the port city of Marseille. In addition to the EU, the project also involves the USA, Russia, China, India, Japan and South Korea.

Ceremony for the start of reactor assembly at ITER.

The nuclear fusion reactor is scheduled to start operating in 2025. Then the first plasma should be used and physicists should be able to start experiments, explained ITER boss Bigot. If these are successful, it is therefore planned that industrial electricity will be produced with the reactor from 2035.


(anw)

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