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Global Fusion Reactor race for unlimited source of clean, cheap energy and develop advanced strategic weapons

Both fission and fusion produce energy from atoms. Nuclear fission is the method currently used in power plants where uranium atoms from a heavy, unstable nucleus are split into two or more lighter nuclei. Nuclear fusion is the other way around and involves fusing two light atoms into a larger one. This process aims to reproduce what happens in the heart of the sun.


Many energy experts believe that nuclear fusion is the only real ‘solution’ to global warming that is capable of producing unlimited supplies of cheap, clean, safe and sustainable electricity. The reactor’s fuel is limitless, hydrogen the element used to create the fusion reaction is the most abundant atom in the universe and could be sourced from seawater, and the lithium found in the Earth’s crust. Fusion reactors are also safe (they produce less radiation than we live with every day), clean (there’s no combustion, so there’s no pollution) and will create less waste than fission reactors.


Researchers from US, Europe, Russia, China, Germany and Japan are striving towards harnessing immense energy of nuclear fusion, the process that powers the Sun and produces 10 thousand times more energy than coal. The idea is to recreate the nuclear fusion that occurs in stars, where atomic nuclei collide and fuse together to form helium atoms, releasing huge amount of energy in the process.


However, the thermonuclear fusion presents so far insurmountable scientific and engineering challenges.” In the Sun, massive gravitational forces create the right conditions for fusion, but on Earth they are much harder to achieve. Fusion fuel – different isotopes of hydrogen – must be heated to extreme temperatures of the order of 100 million degrees Celsius, and must be kept dense enough, and confined for long enough, to allow the nuclei to fuse,”explain World Nuclear Association. The aim of the controlled fusion research program is to achieve ‘ignition’, which occurs when enough fusion reactions take place for the process to become self-sustaining, with fresh fuel then being added to continue it. Once ignition is achieved, there is net energy yield – about four times as much as with nuclear fission.


“Fusion is an expensive science, because you’re trying to build a sun in a bottle,” said Michael Williams of National Spherical Torus Experiment, and “The true pioneers in the field didn’t fully appreciate how hard a scientific problem it would be.” The necessary materials are either too expensive or simply do not exist. 


Many within the field think that successes will accelerate in the years ahead as the system designs for advanced systems become better understood, the basic technologies continue to become more commercial, and that the physics performance of laser fusion, in whatever configuration, becomes more robust.” Experts say science has made a lot of progress recently and for some, confidence is high.


“For $20 billion in cash, I could build you a working reactor,” Professor Steven Cowley, CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, told Popular Mechanics. “It would be big, and maybe not very reliable, but 25 years ago we didn’t even know if we’d be able to make fusion work. Now, the only question is whether we’ll be able to make it affordable.”


Applications in Nuclear weapons program

The very hot and dense conditions encountered during an Inertial Confinement Fusion experiment are similar to those created in a thermonuclear weapon, and have applications to the nuclear weapons program. ICF experiments might be used, for example, to help determine how warhead performance will degrade as it ages, or as part of a program of designing new weapons.


It has been argued that some aspects of ICF research may violate the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In the long term, despite the formidable technical hurdles, ICF research might potentially lead to the creation of a “pure fusion weapon”.


The nuclear fusion experiments will also enable countries to develop advanced strategic weapons. All three Powers of the “Great triangle” of the Asia-Pacific region formed by the United States, Russia, and China are upgrading and modernizing, their Nuclear Arsenal to provide a strong deterrent against different perceived adversary threats.


Global Nuclear Fusion Reactor Race

The commercial and military advantages are driving an intense global race in fusion research led by the European Union, the USA, Russia and Japan, with vigorous programs also underway in China, Brazil, Canada, and Korea. A great number of facilities in many countries have been successfully established to study ICF and HED physics. Among these are the two most powerful facilities; the National Ignition Facility (NIF), presently operated with 192 beamlines at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in USA and the Laser Mega-joule (LMJ) facility under construction in France.



China’s ‘artificial sun’ five times hotter than the sun record in Jan 2022

China’s “artificial sun” has set a new world record after superheating a loop of plasma to temperatures five times hotter than the sun for more than 17 minutes, state media reported in Jan 2022. The EAST (Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak) nuclear fusion reactor maintained a temperature of 158 million degrees Fahrenheit (70 million degrees Celsius) for 1,056 seconds, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The achievement brings scientists a small yet significant step closer to the creation of a source of near-unlimited clean energy.


The Chinese experimental nuclear fusion reactor smashed the previous record, set by France’s Tore Supra tokamak in 2003, where plasma in a coiling loop remained at similar temperatures for 390 seconds. EAST had previously set another record in May 2021 by running for 101 seconds at an unprecedented 216 million F (120 million C). The core of the actual sun, by contrast, reaches temperatures of around 27 million F (15 million C).


China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), which mimics the energy generation process of the sun, set a new record after it ran at 216 million degrees Fahrenheit (120 million degrees Celsius) for 101 seconds, the state media reported in June 2021. For another 20 seconds, the “artificial sun” also achieved a peak temperature of 288 million degrees Fahrenheit (160 million degrees Celsius), which is over ten times hotter than the sun.


The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor is an advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device located at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, China. Since it first became operational in 2006, the EAST has set several records for the duration of confinement of exceedingly hot plasma.


Earlier in Nov 2018, China’s “artificial sun” achieved a plasma central electron temperature of 100 million degrees celsius, a key step in China’s future fusion reactor experiment, according to the Hefei Institute of Physical Science under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In stable fusion, this temperature achieved is one of the most fundamental elements, because fusion is possible only if the central temperature reaches 100 million degrees. The experimental data obtained establishes an important foundation for the development of clean fusion energy.


But experts say there is still a long way to go for China’s experimental ‘artificial sun’. According to Lin Boquiang, the director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, it will take decades for a working reactor to emerge from its experimental stages.


China independently designed and constructed the East in 2006. The facility is 11m (36ft) tall, with a diameter of 8m and a weight of 400 tons. The country is the first in the world to design and develop such equipment on its own. It utilizes superconductive magnets (which no reactor in the United States currently does), which gives it a superior capability in magnetic confinement strength. The team claimed to have solved a number of scientific and engineering problems, such as precisely controlling the alignment of the magnet, and managing to capture the high-energy particles and heat escaping from the “doughnut”.


The EAST is one of three major domestic tokamaks that are presently being operated across the country. Apart from the EAST, China is currently operating the HL-2A reactor as well as J-TEXT. In December 2020, HL-2M Tokamak, China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device, was successfully powered up for the first time — a key milestone in the growth of China’s nuclear power research capabilities.


It could also help accelerate government approval of construction of the world’s first fusion power plant, the proposed Chinese Fusion Engineering Test Reactor (CFETR). The CFETR proposal sees the reactor going into operation in 2030, generating 200 megawatts of power initially, before an upgrade in the following decade that would ramp up output to around a gigawatt, more than is produced by each of the commercial fission reactors at Daya Bay.


Shenguang Laser Project for Inertial Confinement Fusion

China is also well on its way to developing an inertial confinement fusion (ICF) facility comparable to the laser fusion facility at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Livermore. The Shenguang (Divine Light) laser project explores the inertial confinement fusion (ICF) as an alternative approach to attain inertial fusion energy (IFE) – a controllable, sustained nuclear fusion reaction aided by an array of high-powered lasers.


Shenguang’s target physics, theory and experimentation, began as early as 1993. By 2012, China completed the Shenguang 3 (Divine Light 3), a high-powered super laser facility based in the Research Center of Laser Fusion at the China Academy of Engineering Physics – the research and manufacturing center of China’s nuclear weapons located in Mianyang.


Divine Light 3 (SG-III), facility is designed to utilize up to 48 energetic laser beams (six bundles) and laser energy output of 150-200kJ (3ω) for square pulse of 3 ns. If fast ignition is workable, SG-III will couple with a PW laser of tens of kJ to demonstrate fast ignition. SG-III will be used to investigate target physics before ignition for both direct-driven and indirect-driven ICF.


Although the facility is currently only in the target design experimental phase, the next phase, Divine Light 4(3 ns, 3ω, 1.4 MJ), will be for ignition of actual fuel. Shenguang aims to achieve such “burn” – fusion ignition and plasma burning by 2020, while advancing research in solving the complex technological challenges associated with controlling the nuclear reaction.


The China’s Shenguang (Divine Light) laser is an experiment in inertial confinement fusion. The project reportedly aims to achieve ignition and plasma burning by 2020. “Shenguang has two strategic implications: it may accelerate China’s next-generation thermonuclear weapons development, and advance China’s directed-energy laser weapons programs,” wrote Bitzinger and Raska, who are based at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.


But China is not the only country that has achieved high plasma temperatures. In 2020, South Korea’s KSTAR reactor set a new record by maintaining a plasma temperature of over 100 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds.


South Korea’s artificial sun, sets new world record, shines for 20 seconds at 100 million degrees in Dec 2020

South Korea’s magnetic fusion device, the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research, or KSTAR, has set a new world record, reaching an ion temperature of over 100 million degrees Celsius for a record 20 seconds. Referred to as Korea’s “artificial sun”, the KSTAR, a superconducting fusion device, uses magnetic fields to produce and stabilise super-hot plasma, with the end goal of making nuclear fusion power a reality, which is possibly a limitless source of clean energy that could revamp the way we power our lives, given we can get it to work as intended. As per reports, a team of South Korean physicists used KSTAR for the experiment, wherein they obtained a plasma from hydrogen, consisting of hot ions that surpassed the 100 million degrees Celsius temperature.


KFE, according to the report, aims to achieve fusion ignition for 300 seconds at a time by 2025. The institute achieved its first fusion in 2008.


Germany’s Wendelstein 7-X  reactor is largest stellarator reactor in the world fusion reactor produces its first flash of hydrogen plasma

Wendelstein 7-X is one of the largest nuclear fusion devices worldwide and the most advanced of the stellarator type. Its objective is to bring the stellarator concept to maturity in a power plant that generates electricity by using heat from fusing hydrogen nuclei.


Wendelstein 7-X fusion stellarator housed at Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP), a toroidal reactor with its complicated magnetic field is viewed by many as a serious competitor to tokamak-style fusion reactors, such as ITER. This kind of device – a stellarator — uses a complex 3-dimensional arrangement of coils and loops to control the flow of hot plasma through the device’s loops, keeping it stable. One of the advantages of a stellarator is that nuclear fusion reactions can take place continuously, while a tokamak operates in a pulsed mode, making it much less efficient as an energy source.


At a cost of more than €1 billion ($US 1.1 billion) and one million man-hours, Wendelstein 7-X is intended to establish the potential of stellarators as power plants by demonstrating their main advantage over tokamak fusion reactors, which is the ability to operate continuously rather than only in short bursts.


The Wendelstein 7-X fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald produced its first hydrogen plasma on 3 February 2016. This marks the start of scientific operation. Wendelstein 7-X, the world’s largest fusion device of the stellarator type, is to investigate this configuration’s suitability for use in a power plant.


The first hydrogen plasma, which was switched on at a ceremony on 3 February 2016 attended by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel that saw a 2-megawatt pulse of microwave heating transformed a tiny quantity of hydrogen gas into an extremely hot low-density hydrogen plasma. This entails separation of the electrons from the nuclei of the hydrogen atoms. Confined in the magnetic cage generated by Wendelstein 7-X, the charged particles levitate without making contact with the walls of the plasma chamber. “With a temperature of 80 million degrees and a lifetime of a quarter of a second, the device’s first hydrogen plasma has completely lived up to our expectations,” says IPP’s Dr. Hans-Stephan Bosch.


The Wendelstein 7-X has now broken records for producing the highest density of plasma (2 x 10^20 particles per cubic metre) and the highest energy density (more than one Megajoule), bringing it one step closer to being suitable for clean fusion power. The team also says it has achieved long-lasting plasma reactions of 100 seconds for the first time – another record for a stellarator device.


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

NIF, $3.5bn facility based at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is one of several projects around the world aimed at harnessing fusion.  NIF uses 192 powerful laser beams that are focused through holes in a target container called a hohlraum, a 9.425-mm-long, 5.75-mm-diameter cylindrical gold cavity. Inside the cavity is a 2 mm spherical pellet containing a frozen deuterium-tritium (D-T) mix surrounding cooled D-T gas, in a silicon-doped plastic coating. The fuel pellet is made by adding gaseous deuterium and tritium and then cooling to 18.6 kelvins, or –254.55 degrees Celsius.


The hohlraum target—about the size of a pencil’s eraser—sits within a spherical target chamber 10 meters in diameter, which in turn is positioned inside NIF’s “Grand Central Station,” a concrete silo target bay 30 meters high and 30 meters in diameter. Lasers are fed with roughly 500 megajoules of electricity, which then pump out 1.9 megajoules worth of energy in slightly more than a nanosecond, delivering 500 terawatts of power inside the hohlraum (a terawatt is a trillion watts).


When the concentrated beams simultaneously hit the gold hohlraum, they create X-rays within the cavity that blast off the fuel pellet’s silicon-doped plastic coating. The remainder of the pellet is driven inwards in an implosion, compressing the fuel inside the capsule and creating a shock wave that adds more heat to the fuel and creates a “burn.”


The scientists of National Ignition Facility (NIF) created a breakthrough during an experiment in September 2013, when the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel – the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world. Since then, the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California has reproduced such fusion at least four times.


One of LLNL’s latest achievements, announced last February, was when an LLNL team extracted 10 times more energy from their nuclear fusion reactions compared to past experiments. To do this, they utilized a process called boot-strapping. Boot-strapping takes some of the residual particles created during fusion and deposits their energy into the overall fuel supply source instead of letting the particles escape.


But while a net-energy-positive reaction is an important technical achievement, the facility’s core goal of ignition—a self-sustaining fusion reaction—still appears to be many years off. According to Physics Today magazine, the independent report, sponsored by DOE suggests, “Barring an unforeseen technical breakthrough and given today’s configuration of the NIF laser, achieving ignition on the NIF in the near term (one to two years) is unlikely and uncertain in the mid-term (five years),” the DOE report says. “The question is if the NIF will be able to reach ignition in its current configuration and not when it will occur.” The report recommends making better use of other facilities, not designed to achieve ignition, to better understand the underlying physics of the compressed fuel, known as high-energy density plasma.


NIF was funded, designed and developed to help replace the role underground nuclear tests played in maintaining the nuclear stockpile. NIF provides access to the highest pressure and temperature regimes needed to assess weapon physics and material responses. In experiments conducted in 2018, physicists were able to use NIF to inform decisions about whether they could replace aged materials in the W80 without sacrificing the warhead’s safety (won’t go off by accident), security (can’t be set off without formal permissions) and effectiveness(will work as designed).


While high explosives kick-start a nuclear detonation, the majority of a weapon’s energy output is produced in the “high-energy density” (HED) state of the matter, where temperatures and pressures are equivalent to those found on the surface of the sun. ln the absence of underground nuclear testing, HED experimental facilities like NIF are the only way to answer questions about matter under these extreme conditions.

Alcator C-Mod tokamak nuclear fusion reactor sets world record on final day of operation.

Scientists and engineers at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center have made a leap forward in the pursuit of clean energy. The team set a new world record for plasma pressure in the Institute’s Alcator C-Mod tokamak nuclear fusion reactor. Plasma pressure is the key ingredient to producing energy from nuclear fusion, and MIT’s new result achieves over 2 atmospheres of pressure for the first time.


Successful fusion also requires that the product of three factors — a plasma’s particle density, its confinement time, and its temperature — reaches a certain value. Above this value (the so-called “triple product”), the energy released in a reactor exceeds the energy required to keep the reaction going. Pressure, which is the product of density and temperature, accounts for about two-thirds of the challenge. The amount of power produced increases with the square of the pressure — so doubling the pressure leads to a fourfold increase in energy production.


While setting the new record of 2.05 atmospheres, a 15 percent improvement, the temperature inside Alcator C-Mod reached over 35 million degrees Celsius, or approximately twice as hot as the center of the sun. The plasma produced 300 trillion fusion reactions per second and had a central magnetic field strength of 5.7 tesla. It carried 1.4 million amps of electrical current and was heated with over 4 million watts of power. The reaction occurred in a volume of approximately 1 cubic meter (not much larger than a coat closet) and the plasma lasted for two full seconds.


“This is a remarkable achievement that highlights the highly successful Alcator C-Mod program at MIT,” says Dale Meade, former deputy director at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, who was not directly involved in the experiments. “The record plasma pressure validates the high-magnetic-field approach as an attractive path to practical fusion energy.”


University of Washington Fusion Experiment

University of Washington researchers are working towards a sustainable and controlled fusion reaction with funding from the DOE to improve on their HIT-SI3 prototype. University of Washington has also taken hot plasma approach for building nuclear fusion reactor. The UW team is working to demonstrate high temperature confinement of the plasma before realizing a commercial-scale reactor.

According to their estimate if their technique becomes successful then it would cost $2.7 billion to produce 1 billion watts of power whereas modern coal plants require $2.8 billion to produce the same amount of energy.

One of the reasons for their cost effectiveness is their unique design of tokamaks which is spherical in shape rather than traditional hollowed-out doughnut shape. “Right now, this design has the greatest potential of producing economical fusion power of any current concept,” said UW Professor of aeronautics and astronautics, Thomas Jarboe, in a statement released by the university.

Now, researchers at the University of Washington have stepped up their existing involvement in the fusion field with a $5.3 million Department of Energy grant to scale up their “Sheared Flow Stabilized Z-Pinch” fusion device. Uri Shumlak, a professor in the department of aeronautics and astronautics, co-leads the project and explained that the Z-Pinch technique is smaller and cheaper than more conventional magnetic field coil-driven reactors.


US’s Lockheed Martin Pursuing Compact Nuclear Fusion Reactor Concept

The Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works® team is working on a new compact fusion reactor (CFR) that can be developed and deployed in as little as ten years. The company says that its innovative method for confining the superhot ionized gas, or plasma, necessary for fusion means that it can make a working reactor 1/10 the size of current efforts, such as the international ITER fusion project under construction in France.


It was originally believed that the compact reactor would fit on a large truck. It looked like it might weigh 20 tons and they claimed they could build a full-sized system in ten years. After actual engineering and scientific research and computer simulations, Lockheed found the new design would need to be around a 2000-ton reactor that is 7 meters in diameter and 18 meters long. This would be about one third the length of a Dolphin diesel submarine and it would be slightly wider and taller. It would be similar in size to a A5W submarine nuclear fission reactor.


“Our compact fusion concept combines several alternative magnetic confinement approaches, taking the best parts of each, and offers a 90 percent size reduction over previous concepts,” said Tom McGuire, compact fusion lead for the Skunk Works’ Revolutionary Technology Programs. “The smaller size will allow us to design, build and test the CFR in less than a year.” After completing several of these design-build-test cycles, the team anticipates being able to produce a prototype in five years.


The Lockheed team predicts that it will take 5 years to prove the concept for the new reactor. After that, they estimate it would take another 5 years to build a prototype that would produce 100 megawatts (MW) of electricity—enough for a small city—and fit on the back of a truck. A Web page with video on the Lockheed site even talks of powering ships and aircraft with a CFR.


*Update, 17 October 2021, 10:53 a.m.: Three U.S. patent applications filed on 9 October by McGuire reveal more details about the reactor. It does appear to be some sort of cusp geometry device but more complicated than a picket fence. It also appears to have a structure known as a magnetic mirror at either end. This acts as a magnetic plug to stop particles from escaping along the axis of the device.


Cusp geometries were first proposed in the 1950s by Harold Grad of New York University but were abandoned because experiments showed such machines would be leaky: Particles could escape through the gaps between one electromagnet and the next.



Russia’s $1.5 billion project

Russia has launched a $1.5 billion project to create a high-energy superlaser site that would be capable of igniting nuclear fusion. The facility will be used both for thermonuclear weapon and for inertial confinement fusion (ICF) studies.

Internationally this will be the fourth international facility of megajoule-class Lasers for ICF and High Energy Density Science after NIF in the United States, LMJ (Laser MegaJoule) in France and Divine Light 4 in China.

The laser facility will be developed by the Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF), a leading Russian nuclear laboratory. In its six decades of history, it was involved in the development of both the military and civilian nuclear programs in Russia.


It will be a dual-purpose device, “On the one hand, there is the defense component, because high energy density plasma physics can be productively studied on such devices, which is necessary for developing thermonuclear weapons. On the other hand, there is the power industry component. The world’s leading physicists believe that laser nuclear fusion can be useful for future energetics,” the head of research, Radiy Ilkaev said.


The Russian device will be similar to the American National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the French Laser Mégajoule (LMJ) in terms of capability. Ilkaev says the future Russian facility will be able to deliver 2.8 megajoules of energy to its target, as compared to energy levels of about 1.8 megajoules for the American and French lasers. “We are making our device later than they did, because such projects are costly, but ours will be the best in the world,” the scientist promised.


According to Ed Moses, head of the NIF, “This latest Russian announcement demonstrates that laser fusion continues to grow rapidly as an international effort. One of the interesting attributes of these systems is that the size of the investment in showing full-scale burn physics can be managed within the resources of individual countries  and that the time scale of construction is now 10 years and decreasing.


The HiPER effort in Europe is also exploring building large facility capabilities to study fusion energy and the Koreans have recently shown significant interest in exploring this path within their own country.


European scientist’s major breakthrough in  practical nuclear fusion reported in Feb 2022

The UK-based JET laboratory has smashed its own world record for the amount of energy it can extract by squeezing together two forms of hydrogen. The experiments produced 59 megajoules of energy over five seconds (11 megawatts of power). This is more than double what was achieved in similar tests back in 1997.


It’s not a massive energy output – only enough to boil about 60 kettles’ worth of water. But the significance is that it validates design choices that have been made for an even bigger fusion reactor now being constructed in France.


International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France

International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER, is a collaborative scientific effort backed by the European Union and six nations United States, China, India, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. The multi-billion-euro ITER facility, currently under construction in Cadarache southern France, will be largest fusion reactor ever. ITER has now expanded into a 35-country project with an estimated $50 billion price tag.


The scientific goal of the ITER project is to deliver ten times the power it consumes. From 50 MW of input power, the ITER machine is designed to produce 500 MW of fusion power—the first of all fusion experiments to produce net energy. ITER will use magnetic fields to contain the hot fusion fuel – a concept known as magnetic confinement.


Construction of the reactor began in 2017 and is now more than 50 percent complete.  However, there is at least another decade of building work and a further decade of testing before the reactor will be allowed to “go nuclear”.


When the ITER project was launched in 2015, the schedule was to have the first plasma by the end of 2025 and full nuclear fusion by 2035, said Bernard Bigot, the director general of ITER. Since its launch in 2006, ITER has been plagued with delays and cost overruns.


The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) currently under construction in Cadarache, southern France, will see cost overruns and delays due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, its top official said in  September 2021. As a result of the pandemic, factories were stopped and ships that took on average 45 days to deliver components from Korea took 90 days to arrive, he indicated. “While we were progressing on a monthly rate of nearly 0.7% on average during the last five years, last year in 2020 we were only able to achieve 0.35%,” he explained.


According to Fusion for Energy — the European Union’s joint undertaking for ITER — 18 powerful superconducting magnets, known as toroidal field coils, will be powered to generate a magnetic field of 11.8 tesla — approximately one million times stronger than the earth’s magnetic fields. Europe will manufacture 10 of the toroidal field coils, which will confine the super-hot plasma, and Japan will produce eight plus one spare. They will be the biggest niobium-tin magnets ever produced. India contributes through the Gujarat-based Institute for Plasma Research by manufacturing major components of the plasma chamber where the fusion reactions are going to take place for the first time in 2025.


“We expect first plasma in December 2025 and full power by 2035. For sure, that schedule is still challenging but it is the best technically achievable schedule, taking into account the financial constraints,” new ITER chief Bernard Bigot – former head of French nuclear state agency CEA told reporters during a visit to the ITER site in rural Cadarache. Bigot estimates the overall cost until commissioning will be of the order of 18 billion euros. Compared to the 2010 baseline, the cost increase is about 4 billion euros, he said.


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