ITER is a Latin word meaning “the way.” It refers to a major international experiment that seeks to demonstrate the scientific and technical possibility of fusion as a source of energy. ITER will be 30 times larger in comparison to the Joint European Torus (JET), currently the world’s largest comparable experiment in operation. It will enable scientists and energy experts to merge the knowledge and expertise necessary for movement to the next phase of electricity production using fusion power. ITER is anticipated to produce 500MW of fusion power for approximately 7 minutes or 300MW for almost one hour.
An artistic impression of ITER (Courtesy: ITER Organization)
An inside view of the ITER tokamak, showing the doughnut-shaped plasma inside of the vacuum vessel.
The first idea of ITER as an intercontinental trial was proposed in 1985 by a collaboration between the formers USSR, the United States, the European Union and Japan underneath one umbrella body; International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). A proposal was made to President Reagan by Premier Gorbachev after discussions with France’s President Mitterand. The proposal sought to develop an international project for fusion energy generation, and the purpose was to restore peace. The aforementioned countries then fostered collaboration, and details were discussed in 2001. After verification by all the parties, the ITER Agreement was signed on 24 October 2007.
The 21st of November 2006, the ITER Treaty was signed at the Élysée Palace, in Paris.
Currently, the international association consists of the People’s Republic of China, Japan, India, the European Union, India, the Republic of Korea, United States of America, and the Russian Federation. These countries represent over 50% of the world’s population and various economies. Through the collaboration, the seven parties seek to ensure global reliance on sustainable sources of energy. A promising energy source could therefore be in the offing once the necessary knowledge is put into ITER.
Collaboration of the most advanced countries of the world with the aim of developing new energy sources is a step in the right direction. The main challenge of the ITER project is sound scientific knowledge besides technological expertise, and this can be done through pooling of resources from all over the world. Moreover, the ITER Treaty is accessible by any country that is interested in offering specific technological expertise to the project.
Bird’s eye view of the ITER construction location in Cadarache, France, June 2010. (Courtesy: Agence ITER France)
Being the host state, ITER is under construction in France at Cadarache located in the South. France is therefore, responsible for a number of issues for the project’s success. Approximately, 45% of the construction and 34% of the operation cost is sponsored by Europe. However, F4E manages Europe’s contribution to the ITER project.
Source: Fusion For Energy Europe