International Thermo-Nuclear Experiment Reactor (ITER)
The world will mark a historic moment with the start of machine assembly of world's largest experimental fusion reactor at ITER facility in southern France.
• ITER is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world today.
• In southern France, 35 nations are collaborating to build the world's largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers our Sun and stars.
• ITER will be the first fusion device to produce net energy and maintain fusion for long periods of time. It also will be the first fusion device to test the integrated technologies, materials, and physics regimes necessary for the commercial production of fusion-based electricity.
• Thousands of engineers and scientists have contributed to the design of ITER since the idea for an international joint experiment in fusion was first launched in 1985.
• ITER Members- China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States- are now engaged in a 35-year collaboration to build and operate the ITER experimental device, and together bring fusion to the point where a demonstration fusion reactor can be designed.
• ITER-India is the Indian domestic agency, a specially empowered project of the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), an aided organization under Dept. of Atomic Energy, Govt. of India.
• ITER-India is responsible for delivery of the following ITER packages: Cryostat, In-wall Shielding, Cooling Water System, Cryogenic System, Ion-Cyclotron RF Heating System, Electron Cyclotron RF Heating System, Diagnostic Neutral Beam System, Power Supplies and some Diagnostics.
• Additionally, related R&D and experimental activities are being carried out at the ITER-India laboratory in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
Power plants today rely either on fossil fuels, nuclear fission, or renewable sources like wind or water.
Global demand for energy is skyrocketing with population growth. On top of this, we know for a fact that relying on fossil fuels is not going to sustain the planet for long.
The tokamak 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.
The heart of a tokamak is its doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber. Inside, under the influence of extreme heat and pressure, gaseous hydrogen fuel becomes a plasma—the very environment in which hydrogen atoms can be brought to fuse and yield energy.
The charged particles of the plasma can be shaped and controlled by the massive magnetic coils placed around the vessel; physicists use this important property to confine the hot plasma away from the vessel walls.
The term "tokamak" comes from a Russian acronym that stands for "toroidal chamber with magnetic coils." First developed by Soviet research in the late 1960s, the tokamak has been adopted around the world as the most promising configuration of magnetic fusion device.
ITER will be the world's largest tokamak—twice the size of the largest machine currently in operation, with ten times the plasma chamber volume.
The amount of fusion energy a tokamak is capable of producing is a direct result of the number of fusion reactions taking place in its core. The larger the vessel, the larger the volume of the plasma and therefore the greater the potential for fusion energy.
With ten times the plasma volume of the largest machine operating today, the ITER Tokamak will be a unique experimental tool, capable of longer plasmas and better confinement.
Produce 500 MW of fusion power: The world record for fusion power is held by the European tokamak JET. ITER is designed to produce a ten-fold return on energy, 500 MW of fusion power from 50 MW of input heating power. ITER will not capture the energy it produces as electricity, but—as first of all fusion experiments in history to produce net energy gain—it will prepare the way for the machine that can.
Demonstrate the integrated operation of technologies for a fusion power plant: ITER will bridge the gap between today's smaller-scale experimental fusion devices and the demonstration fusion power plants of the future. Scientists will be able to study plasmas under conditions similar to those expected in a future power plant and test technologies such as heating, control, diagnostics, cryogenics and remote maintenance.
Achieve a deuterium-tritium plasma in which the reaction is sustained through internal heating: Fusion research today is at the threshold of exploring a "burning plasma"—one in which the heat from the fusion reaction is confined within the plasma efficiently enough for the reaction to be sustained for a long duration. Scientists are confident that the plasmas in ITER will not only produce much more fusion energy, but will remain stable for longer periods of time.
Test tritium breeding: One of the missions for the later stages of ITER operation is to demonstrate the feasibility of producing tritium within the vacuum vessel. The world supply of tritium (used with deuterium to fuel the fusion reaction) is not sufficient to cover the needs of future power plants. ITER will provide a unique opportunity to test mockup in-vessel tritium breeding blankets in a real fusion environment.
Demonstrate the safety characteristics of a fusion device: ITER achieved an important landmark in fusion history when, in 2012, the ITER Organization was licensed as a nuclear operator in France based on the rigorous and impartial examination of its safety files. One of the primary goals of ITER operation is to demonstrate the control of the plasma and the fusion reactions with negligible consequences to the environment.