ITER, the world’s largest fusion reactor, will be launched in 15 years

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) has been completed, but will not operate for another 15 years, scientists have reported. The world’s largest fusion reactor, which was assembled in France, was originally supposed to start operating in 2020, but now the launch has been postponed to 2039.

“Certainly, the ITER delay is not a step in the right direction. If we are talking about the impact of nuclear fusion on the problems that humanity is currently facing, we should not wait for nuclear fusion to solve them. This is unreasonable,” says Pietro Barabaschi, the project’s CEO.

The ITER thermonuclear reactor was created in cooperation with 35 countries: all European Union countries, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, China, India, and the United States. It contains the world’s most powerful magnet, which makes it capable of generating a magnetic field 280,000 times more powerful than the one that protects the Earth.

ITER cost $28 billion to build. Initially, it was planned to cost about $5 billion, but now, due to numerous delays, its budget has exceeded $22 billion, with the rest of the amount made up of additional costs. The high costs caused a 15-year delay.

For more than 70 years, scientists have been trying to harness the energy of nuclear fusion, the process by which stars burn. By combining hydrogen atoms to form helium under extremely high pressures and temperatures, fusion creates energy from matter, and does so without environmental impact.

The most common design of fusion reactors, the tokamak, works by overheating plasma (one of the four states of matter consisting of positive ions and negatively charged free electrons), which is held in the reactor chamber by powerful magnetic fields. Fusion reactors require very high temperatures (many times higher than the solar temperature) because they must operate at much lower pressures than in the cores of stars. It is also extremely difficult to keep the turbulent and superheated plasma contained long enough for nuclear fusion to occur. The first tokamak was created in 1958, but none of them has yet reproduced more energy than it consumed – another type of reactor has been more successful.

Source itc
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