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World nations inject $12.8-billion USD into the project

The Globe and Mail reports this week that the ITER nuclear fusion project has been approved for $12.8-billion USD. Although the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) has been in the planning and development stages for more than ten years, it is well supported by most of the world's leading countries that include the U.S., China, India, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the European Union.

DailyTech previously reported that the ITER project last met in Belgium, where the project was discussed for international support and funding. The main goal of the ITER project is to counter the effects of global warming and other environmentally harmful waste products that result from using fossil fuels. According to the ITER group, a nuclear fusion reactor will be able to produce energy by harnessing the same source of power that gives life to the sun.

The approval of the ITER project was accomplished at the Elysee Palace in Paris, where French president Jacques Chirac noted that "the growing shortage of resources and the battle against global warming demand a revolution in our ways of production and consumption." Many of the world leaders and leading scientists believe that nuclear fusion will be one of the primary sources of energy by the end of the century.

The first ITER reactor will be built in Cadarache, Provence. According to the report, the European Union will be funding 50-percent of the project while the remaining countries will each fund roughly 10-percent. The reactor is expected to create some 10,000 new jobs and take roughly eight years to build. 400 scientists around the world will manage the reactor and a demonstration power plant using nuclear fusion will be up and running by 2040.


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By johnsonx on 11/24/2006 9:40:37 PM , Rating: 4
While hoohoo51's assertion that there are no fusion bombs is nonsense (perhaps that's not what he meant to say?), the salient point here is that so far, the all the fusion reactions we have been able to create have to be forced to occur. Even in the apparent runaway fusion reaction of a fusion bomb, it requires a sizable fision detonation to supply the necessary heat and compression to initiate fusion. The reaction fizzles out fairly quickly, but not before a massive release of energy.

In the lab or in a fusion reactor, it obviously isn't practical or possible to light off a fision bomb to initiate fusion. The only way to make it happen is to heat and accelerate a tiny volume of heavy hydrogen to the point where fusion occurs (called a plasma, where the electrons disassociate themselves from the proton/neutron nuclei), and then extract the created energy without halting the reaction. Since the temperature at which fusion occurs is far higher than the boiling point of metal (nevermind the melting point!), the only way to contain such a plasma is in a magnetic field. If the fusion reaction becomes unstable and you loose magnetic containment, the plasma touches the cool metal walls of the containment ring and instantly cools down, becoming so much hot gas. As hot as the plasma is, there isn't enough mass (heat energy=mass*temperature*specific heat of the material) to do more than scortch the metal of the containment ring. There is no chance of a runaway reaction or explosion, as the heavy hydrogen fuel must be continously supplied from outside the reaction: either the reaction is proceeding normally, or it has collasped and you're just pumping more fuel into a non-reactive chamber. Now the greatest risk would be a hydrogen leak which could lead to fire or convential explosion, which would be a very localized problem (and would be rather unlikely in any event). There is very little residual radition from this type of nuclear reaction, as there are no heavy by-products. The product of a fision reaction is itself radioactive, and all the by-products are as well. The product of hydrogen fusion, on the other hand, is just helium. All the helium produced by a fusion reactor could probably be pumped off and used to fill children's party balloons! (ok, not really, but you get the idea)



By johnsonx on 11/24/2006 9:43:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
fire or convential explosion


Of course I meant 'conventional', just in case there was any confusion.


By sbanjac on 11/25/2006 9:56:48 PM , Rating: 2
1. In the case of Iter, the reaction is not a hydrogen fusion reaction. It is a D-T fusion reaction (deuterium-tritium).
2. The product of a DT fusion reaction is not helium alone. It is helium and a free neutron.


By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 11/26/2006 6:14:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It is a D-T fusion reaction (deuterium-tritium).


mmmm DT... fusion.... mmmm :)


By johnsonx on 11/26/2006 3:14:30 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I know they're not fusing plain hydrogen. Plain hydrogen doesn't fuse easily at all. Notice I said 'heavy hydrogen' at one point, which encompasses deuterium and tritium. I was trying to keep it all simple for the masses. Admittedly I hadn't actually read alot of detail about this particular project, so I was guessing they were using D-D fusion. I guess I am curious what they will be doing with all the extra neutrons created in D-T fusion, so I will have to read up a bit.

That said though, your corrections are indeed correct.


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