ITER (originally the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is an international tokamak (magnetic confinement fusion) research/engineering project that could help to make the transition from today's studies of plasma physics to future electricity-producing fusion power plants. It is the body responsible for all the research and development required on processing fusion energy. ITER has seven participating members who are responsible for research and funding of the program. EU, India, Japan, People's Republic of China, Russia, South Korea, and the United States of America (USA), with China being the last one to join.
In a meeting at Moscow on June 28, 2005 the participating parties agreed on the site for the reactor in Cadarache in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur, France. The total price of constructing the experiment is expected to be in excess of € 10 billion, As of 17 June 2009. Prior to that, the proposed costs for ITER were € 5 billion for the construction and € 5 billion for maintenance and the research connected with it during its 35 year lifetime.
The EU's executive body, the Commission, had asked member states to inject fresh funds into the project. The Commission and the European Parliament will have further input before the matter is finally resolved.
Iter itself is holding a special Council meeting on 27-28 July. This will define the latest scope and schedule for the project. Says BBC on 13th July, 2010.
The reactor is designed to produce 500MW of fusion power during pulses of at least 400 seconds.
Nuclear fusion is different than nuclear fission. In Nuclear fission heavy metals like Uranium and Plutonium splits into lighter elements releasing a huge amount of energy. In nuclear fusion lighter elements fuses into a comparatively heavier. Fusion requires high energy to begin but once it is started it generates much more energy for use. One of the best example of fusion reaction in our daily life is SUN.
Fusion has many potential attractions:
- Abundant fuel
- Intrinsically safe
- No production of CO2 or atmospheric pollutants
- "Clean nuclear stove" producing relatively short-lived waste.
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