- At a time when an impasse over the Indo-US nuclear deal has been broken (in January) and both countries are looking forward to steering their ‘123 agreement’, and when the world is talking about nuclear non-proliferation, India is working diligently to build the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) by 2019.
- These are meant to power the world’s largest nuclear reactor, coming up in the Cadarache province of southern France.
- A mega international nuclear fusion research & engineering project, ITER is currently building the world’s largest experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor.
- A tokamak is a device that uses a magnetic field to confine plasma (fourth state of matter) in the shape of a torus.
- The ITER project aims to make the long-awaited transition from experimental studies of plasma physics to full-scale electricity-producing fusion power plants.
- It is seen as a method for electricity production from fusion energy, one for the future.
- The most vital aim is to produce at least 10 times more thermal energy than that required to operate it. This energy could be converted into electricity in future power-producing reactors.
- Scientists have dreamt of accomplishing this feat for half a century, but it wasn’t until 2006 that some progress was made with the formation of ITER.
- ITER’s mission is to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power, and to prove it can work without any negative impact.
- The construction phase of the facility is expected to be completed in 2019; it will start commissioning the reactor the same year and initiate plasma experiments in 2020.
- Full deuterium-tritium fusion experiments will start in 2027.
- If ITER becomes operational, it will become the largest magnetic confinement plasma physics experiment in use, surpassing the Joint European Torus.