This massive project offers limitless clean energy.
The international experiment designed to show that nuclear fusion can be a viable source of energy is already halfway completed, said the organization behind the revolutionary project.
The construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), in the south of France, began in 2013, but several complications have led to the project going through a stony road, reaching very high costs of 22 billion dollars.
Today, its operators have announced that it is in the middle of its construction and that they expect it to be completed in 2021 and start superheating the first hydrogen atoms in 2025 – a milestone known as “first plasma”.
“When we finally demonstrate that fusion energy is a viable source, it may be possible to use it to replace fossil energy, which is non-renewable and unsustainable.”
“Our project will be complementary to wind, solar and other renewable energy, “said ITER CEO Bernard Bigot.
As noted by researchers, ITER will use a method called hydrogen fusion.
The process happens in a donut-shaped reactor, called tokamak, surrounded by magnets that confine and circulate the ionized and superhot plasma (at 150 million degrees Celsius), away from the metal walls.
The superconducting magnets should be cooled to a temperature of -269 ° C, as cold as interstellar space.
In that environment, the deuterium and tritium nuclei (hydrogen isotopes) fuse to form helium, which in turn releases a large amount of energy and heat.
Since the installation only tests the concept, this energy will not be converted into electricity.
In the future, standard fusion plants will use heat to produce steam that turns a turbine to produce electricity.
In this way, traditional installations will produce energy without byproducts of radioactive waste, carbon emissions or spilling hazards.
The fusion plants would start operating in 2040, once the concept has been proven to be viable and efficient.
“ITER’s success has demanded extraordinary project management, systems engineering, and almost perfect integration of our work. Our design has taken advantage of the best expertise of every member’s scientific and industrial base. No country could do this alone. We are all learning from each other, for the world’s mutual benefit,” concluded Bigot.
According to reports, once the ITER project is completed, each of the participating countries will be offered an equal access to the intellectual property, and innovation that comes from building the ITER, which has already been dubbed as ‘mankind’s next step for clean energy’.
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Featured image credit: Euro Fusion