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This page was published on 06/02/2008
Published: 06/02/2008

   Energy

Published: 6 February 2008  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
EnergyNuclear fusion
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China joins search of fusion energy

The ITER project is currently the world's most ambitious project to date; it aims to build a fusion device the likes of which has never been seen before. The scale of the project precludes its undertaking by one country alone. Therefore, the European Union along with six other countries have combined their efforts to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power. And now China is further cementing its role as a partner in the project by contributing around 10 billion yuan (EUR 955.3 million) to the vision.

A technical cutaway of the ITER Tokamak Torus encasing. © ITER
A technical cutaway of the ITER Tokamak Torus encasing.
© ITER
In the south of picturesque France, just 60 km from Marseille lies the research centre Cadarache. It is here that the ITER project has its base and where production of the future international tokamak fusion power reactor is underway. This choice of this site was decided in a final meeting in Moscow on June 28, 2005 and the fusion reactor is expected to start operating in 2016.

In a recent move China has decided to contribute USD1.4 billion to ITER, an amount which represents about 10 percent of the project's cost. About half of China's contribution will be spent during the 10-year construction phase of the multination undertaking. According to Luo Delong, deputy director of the ITER China Office, 'The goal of the project is to find a shortcut to solve our energy shortage.' Furthermore, he said that Chinese researchers will be in charge of building components such as heating, diagnostic and remote maintenance equipment, as well as transporting it to Cadarache in the south of France, where the ITER reactor will be built.

ITER, which means 'the way' in Latin, is an EUR 11 billion experiment to study the scientific and technical feasibility of the world's most advanced nuclear fusion reactor. The device is described as an 'artificial sun' as it will create conditions similar to those occurring in solar nuclear fusion reactions. If successful, the project could generate infinite, safe and clean energy to replace fossil fuels such as oil and coal, and will be 30 times more powerful than the Joint European Torus (JET), the largest comparable experiment.

The ITER project was first initiated by the United States and the then Soviet Union in the mid-1980s. Today, it involves the European Union (EU), the US, Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea, China and India. China joined in February 2003. The ITER Agreement, signed in November 2006, came into effect last October and has an initial duration of 35 years, though it could be extended for an additional 10 years.

Under the agreement, the EU will be responsible for half of the construction costs, while the other five parties excluding India, will contribute equally to cover the remaining expenses.

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See also

The ITER project
The European Union Fusion Development Agreement
Unofficial ITER fan club





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