Thursday, June 6, 2013

ITER - The Way to New Energy

If you haven't heard about ITER, chances are you will soon. The scale and scope of the ITER project rank it among the most ambitious science endeavors of our time. Building began in 2010 on the ITER platform in Cadarache, France where 34 nations are collaborating to realize the ITER project's First Plasma in November 2020.

Over the past 50 years, immense progress has been made in the fields of plasma science and fusion technology. Still, harnessing fusion power and delivering it for industrial applications remains one of the greatest challenges of our time.

ITER is based on the 'tokamak' concept of magnetic confinement, in which the plasma is contained in a doughnut-shaped vacuum vessel. The fuel—a mixture of deuterium and tritium, two isotopes of hydrogen—is heated to temperatures in excess of 150 million°C, forming a hot plasma. Strong magnetic fields are used to keep the plasma away from the walls; these are produced by superconducting coils surrounding the vessel, and by an electrical current driven through the plasma. Scroll over the machine with your cursor to identify the different parts of the machine.

What is fusion?

Fusion is the process at the core of our Sun. What we see as light and feel as warmth is the result of a fusion reaction: hydrogen nuclei collide, fuse into heavier helium atoms and release tremendous amounts of energy in the process.

In the stars of our universe, gravitational forces have created the necessary conditions for fusion. Over billions of years, gravity gathered the hydrogen clouds of the early Universe into massive stellar bodies. In the extreme density and temperature of their cores, fusion occurs.

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