International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor(ITER)

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News: The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor(ITER) has entered its years-long assembly phase.

Facts:

  • What is ITER? It is a major International scientific experiment intended to prove the viability of fusion as an energy source.
  • Where is it being constructed? An experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor is currently under construction in the south of France.
  • Funding: The project is funded and run by seven member entities: European Union, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States.
  • What will ITER do? 
    • It will produce 500 MW of fusion power from 50 MW of thermal power injected into the tokamak resulting in a ten-fold gain of plasma heating power.
    • Demonstrate the integrated operation of technologies for a fusion power plant 
    • Test components required for a fusion power plant among others.
  • Significance of the project:
    • It will be the first fusion device to produce net energy and maintain fusion for long periods of time. 
    • It will also be the first fusion device to test the integrated technologies, materials and physics regimes necessary for the commercial production of fusion-based electricity.

Additional Facts:

  • Fusion: It is the energy source of the Sun and stars.In this, tremendous heat and gravity at the core of these stellar bodies, hydrogen nuclei collide and fuse into heavier helium atoms and release tremendous amounts of energy in the process.
  • Difference between Fusion and Fission: The main difference between fusion and fission reactions is that fission is the splitting of an atom into two or more smaller ones while fusion is the fusing of two or more smaller atoms into a larger one.
  • Tokamak: It is an experimental machine designed to harness the energy of fusion.Inside a tokamak, the energy produced through the fusion of atoms is absorbed as heat in the walls of the vessel.
    • Just like a conventional power plant, a fusion power plant will use this heat to produce steam and then electricity by way of turbines and generators.