Основание реактора перед спуском в шахту ректора (ITER)

Milestone on the way to artificial thermonuclear fusion: installation of the ITER reactor started


The launch on Earth of a thermonuclear reactor, repeating the processes occurring in stars, promises to give access to inexhaustible energy. The world’s largest thermonuclear reactor promises to be the international project ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor). It is expected that the first plasma will be obtained in the reactor in 5–6 years. And the other day a reliable bridge was laid to this plan – on May 26, the installation of the reactor began.

The base of the reactor before the descent into the mine of the rector (ITER)

The base of the reactor before the descent into the mine of the rector (ITER)

Construction work near the small French town of Manosque in Provence on the site of the future complex with a fusion reactor began in 2010. The construction of buildings, after pouring the earthquake-resistant foundation in 2011, began at the end of 2015 (the delay was due to a forced redevelopment after the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant).

Almost all the buildings necessary for obtaining the first plasma (about 40 pieces) have already been built or are near completion (but without installing complete sets of equipment). The main thing is that last year the construction of the tokamak building (toroidal chamber with magnetic coils) was basically completed and this allowed the installation work to assemble the reactor directly in its mine to begin.

Less than a week ago, the lower part of the reactor weighing 1250 tons began to be lowered into an equipped mine. Prior to this, 18 bearings were installed in the concrete base of the shaft 30 meters deep and of the same diameter under the movable support of the cryostat base, in which the reactor will be located. In addition, magnets, correcting coils and other equipment necessary for the operation of the entire system were installed in advance (the video below shows an approximate reactor assembly process).

The project is being conducted with some lag behind the schedule, but given that this is the first practical implementation of a product of this kind and scale, the lag is extremely insignificant. Worse, the ITER project has risen in price at least four times from $ 10-15 billion to more than $ 50 billion. Nobody knows the exact numbers. According to the most conservative estimates, only for European taxpayers the cost of ITER will cost $ 45 billion.

The first experimental plasma should be obtained at ITER in 2025 with the launch of large-scale synthesis by 2035. But even in the period from 2035 to 2040, the reactor will heat no more than 2 grams of hydrogen isotopes to 150 million ° C. However, even this will be enough to generate 500 MW of energy. Will it really be so?

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