ITER

From Academic Kids

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ITER_Tokamak_Cutout.jpg
Cutaway of the ITER Tokamak Torus incasing.
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ITER_National_Team.jpg
Current national parties participating in the ITER program.

ITER is a proposed international tokamak (magnetic confinement fusion) experiment designed to show the scientific and technological feasibility of a full-scale fusion power reactor. It builds upon research conducted on devices such as TFTR, JET, JT-60, and T-15, and will be considerably larger than all of them. The program is anticipated to last for 30 years - 10 years for construction, and 20 years of operationm and cost approximately $10 billion.

The name stood for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, but is now no longer an acronym. The word 'iter' means 'the way' in Latin and so the name is now used as a reference to ITER being the way to harnessing nuclear fusion as a peaceful power source.

Contents

Objectives

ITER has a number of specific objectives, all concerned with developing a viable fusion power reactor.

  • ITER aims to momentarily produce ten times more thermal energy from fusion heating than is supplied by auxillary heating (a Q value of 10).
  • ITER aims to produce a steady-state plasma with a Q value of greater than 5.
  • Maintain a fusion pulse for up to eight minutes
  • ITER may be capable of igniting a 'burning' (self-sustaining) plasma.
  • Develop technologies and processes needed for a fusion power plant - including superconducting magnets (pioneered on the Russian T-15) and remote handling (maintence by robot).

History

ITER began in 1985 as a collaboration between the then Soviet Union, the USA, EU (through EURATOM) and Japan. Conceptual and engineering design phases led to an acceptable detailed design in 2001, underpinned by $650 million worth of research and development by the "ITER Parties" to establish its practical feasibility. These (with the Russian Federation replacing the Soviet Union and with the USA opting out of the project between 1999 and 2003) have been since joined in negotiations on the future construction, operation and decommissioning of ITER by Canada (who terminated their participation at the end of 2003), the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Korea. The project is expected cost ~$10 billion over its thirty year life.

ITER will run in parallel with a materials test facility, the International Fusion Materials Irradiation Facility (IFMIF), which will develop materials suitable for use in the extreme conditions that will be found in future fusion power plants. Both of these will be followed by a demonstration power plant, DEMO, which would generate electricity. A prototype plant to follow DEMO would be the first to produce commercial power.

The project has experienced some opposition from environmental bodies such as Greenpeace, who regard the ITER project as "madness" [1] (http://www.eubusiness.com/press/EUPress.2003-11-26.3159), claiming that "Nuclear fusion has all the problems of nuclear power, including producing nuclear waste and the risks of a nuclear accident."

Location

The location of ITER has not been decided yet and is currently debated; current possible sites are Cadarache in Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur, France and Rokkasho-mura in Aomori, Japan. On May 3 2005, the EU and Japan have agreed to a process which should settle their dispute over the siting of the ITER fusion reactor by July, with a final meeting to be held in Moscow on June 28. On May 5 2005, Japan and EU reached an agreement conditions for hosting construction. French research minister said that the agreement could lead Japan to drop its bid to host the ITER, but the Japanese government and the EU Commission denied the French claim and mentioned that no decision has been reached on the construction site.

Power

ITER will use a hydrogen plasma torus operating at over 100 million Celsius. It will produce approximately 500 MW (megawatt, 1 million watt) of fusion power sustained for up to 500 seconds (compared to JET's peak of 16 MW for less than a second). ITER will not generate electrical power.

Future

ITER is the experimental step between today’s studies of plasma physics and tomorrow's electricity-producing fusion power plants.

It is technically ready to start construction and the first plasma operation is expected in 2015.

See also

External links

es:ITER fr:International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor nl:ITER ja:ITER pl:ITER sv:Iter

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