The world̵7;s largest fusion project has entered its five-year assembly phase.
Once this is done, the installation will be able to start generating the extremely hot “plasma” needed for melting power.
The £ 18.2 billion facility (€ 20 billion; $ 23.5 billion) is under construction in Saint-Paul-les-Durant, southern France.
Proponents say that fusion can be a source of pure unlimited force to help overcome the climate crisis.
Iter is a collaboration between China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States. All members share in the cost of construction.
Current nuclear energy depends on fission, where a heavy chemical element is broken down to produce lighter ones.
Nuclear fusion, on the other hand, works by combining two light elements to make it heavier.
This releases a huge amount of energy with very little radioactivity.
Iter will be limited to hot plasma in a structure called tokamak to control synthesis reactions.
The project aims to help demonstrate whether synthesis can be commercially viable. French President Emmanuel Macron said the effort would unite countries around the common good.
At the installation, you could see the plasma generated in the machine – the conditional start of work – shortly after the completion of the assembly phase in 2025.
President Macron said: “Iter is clearly an act of confidence in the future. The greatest progress in history has always come from bold bets, from journeys that are fraught with difficulties.
“In the beginning, it always seems that obstacles will be greater than the will to create and progress. Iter belongs to this spirit of discovery, ambition, with the idea that thanks to science, tomorrow can really be better than yesterday.”
But the power of synthesis has its skeptics. It was difficult to make it commercially viable because scientists were trying to get enough energy for reactions.
Lawyers believe that Iter can overcome technical obstacles, and given the global challenges, the merger is costly and laborious.
The UK is a member of the Iter project, but plans to drop out as the British government abandons a key Brexit agreement. The UK can only stay if a new way is found to maintain its involvement until the end of the transition to Brexit.
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