Advancing science has given us many modern energy sources, not in the least the power of nuclear energy which has changed the landscape of our world. ITER, a collaborative project between 35 nations, has taken the ambitious next step by commissioning the largest tokamak nuclear fusion reactor, to be built in southern France.
ITER in its current form was established in 2007 and plans started to be put together in Saint Paul-lez-Durance in 2010. Construction is now well underway, with milestones including the first access to the tokamak pit in 2018, and 2025 cited as the start of energy production. The involved nations are hoping that its success will launch an even more energy efficient and carbon-free future. Described as one of the ‘most complex scientific endeavours in human history’, ITER intends to replicate the immense energy caused by colliding stars.
Currently, nuclear power plants use the method of nuclear fission to generate energy; splitting atoms rather than combining them. Fission is an easier process but also produces waste which can stay radioactive for centuries, a problem eliminated by a fusion reaction.
The tokamak reactor has been designed to reach the extreme temperature of 150 million centigrade needed to replicate the sun. At the intended scale, they will draw out the fusion for longer periods with the objective being to prove commercial nuclear fusion is both safe and viable. If the ITER project is a success, it will be on track to produce more energy than 10,000 tonnes of coal in a single reaction.
The involved nations are hoping that its success will launch an even more energy efficient and carbon-free future. CEMAR are incredibly proud to have been selected to work with ITER, providing our FIDIC contract management and reporting solution for the construction of the 23,000-tonne tokamak reactor.
The ITER Organisation has members from China, the European Union, Russia, India, Japan, Korea and the United States combining their knowledge and expertise to run the project, which has been in talks since 1985 when the idea of a collaborative fusion project was proposed. It’s fitting that ITER have taken their name from Latin for ‘the way’, as their multi-national approach and successes will pave the way for the next generation.
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