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Non-nuclear energy

The ITER mission

Fission and radiation protection

ITER is an international R&D project conceived to take the next major step in the development of fusion energy as a safe, clean and sustainable energy source for our planet. This stage will demonstrate the physics required to achieve high power amplification (producing many times the amount of energy put into the experiment) and the essential associated technologies that a future fusion reactor will require, such as a first-wall capable of resisting high heat loads, steady-state heating systems, and the breeding and recycling of tritium within the device.

ITER’s mission is to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy for peaceful purposes. To do this, ITER will produce several hundred MW of power for extended periods of time. It will demonstrate essential fusion energy technologies in an integrated system, and perform the integrated testing of key elements required to use fusion as a practical energy source.

Plasma size for ITER compared to current experiments

Plasma size for ITER compared to current experiments

ITER will be a machine of the tokamak type in which the toroidal (doughnut-shaped) fusion plasma is confined by strong magnetic fields. The device’s main objective is to demonstrate prolonged fusion power production in deuterium-tritium plasma. Compared with current conceptual designs for fusion power plants, ITER will include most of the necessary technology, but will be of slightly smaller dimensions and will operate at about one-fifth of the power output level.

ITER parameters

Plasma volume837m3
Fusion power (thermal)400 - 500MW
Plasma duration300 - 500s
Power amplification (transient)>10
Power amplification (steady)>5
Plasma current15MA

As indicated above, ITER will be designed to produce a fusion thermal power of about 500 MW but is capable of more as it is actively cooled. In contrast, JET has a maximum power capabilities of few 10s of MW for a few seconds. JET has a power amplification parameter (Q) of 0.65, while ITER will be designed to have a steady state Q > 5. This means that the power output will be more than five times the power input with possible maximum power output up to ten times the input. It will be the first fusion experiment to produce net power and will create the next major step for the advancement of fusion science and for the development of fusion as a practical source of energy.