INTERNATIONAL Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER, or “The Way” in Latin), one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world, is to be switched on in a few short years’ time.
In southern France, 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers our Sun and stars.
ITER’s First Plasma is scheduled for December 2025, which will be the first time the machine is powered on, and the first act of ITER’s multi-decade operational program.
Flicking the switch is only the beginning however, as for the next ten years the machine will be ramping up progressively in order for the actual Deuterium-Tritium Operation to begin in 2035.
The amount of fusion energy a tokamak is capable of producing is a direct result of the number of fusion reactions taking place in its core.
Fusion is the energy source of the Sun and stars.
In the tremendous heat and gravity at the core of these stellar bodies, hydrogen nuclei collide, fuse into heavier helium atoms and release tremendous amounts of energy in the process.
Scientists know that the larger the vessel, the larger the volume of the plasma and therefore the greater the potential for fusion energy.
The experimental campaign that will be carried out at ITER is crucial to advancing fusion science and preparing the way for the fusion power plants of tomorrow.
ITER will be the first fusion device to produce net energy.
It will also be the first fusion device to maintain fusion for long periods of time and ITER will be the first fusion device to test the integrated technologies, materials, and physics regimes necessary for the commercial production of fusion-based electricity.
The machine assembly work began earlier this year.