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  • Travis Edmunds
    http://www.physorg.com/news4786.html June 28, 2005 The Six Parties of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) consortium have reached a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 28, 2005
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      June 28, 2005

      The Six Parties of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor
      (ITER) consortium have reached a decision in their negotiations, specifying
      the location of the world�s first energy-producing fusion reactor in
      Cadarache, in Southern France. The �10 billion project will generate
      multiple research opportunities for the Plasma Physics Research Centre at
      the Ecole Polytechnique F�d�rale de Lausanne (EPFL).

      ITER's future location in Cadarache will be doubly beneficial to EPFL. In
      its role as a National Centre of Competence, The Plasma Physics Research
      Centre (CRPP) is fully integrated with the nuclear fusion research programs
      within the Euratom-Swiss Confederation framework. CRPP will thus be called
      upon to participate in various specialized, high technology facets of the
      reactor�s construction.

      This level of participation will confirm and solidify CRPP�s reputation in
      the plasma physics community. Minh Quang Tran, director of the Centre, also
      holds a position as president of the European Fusion Development Agreement,
      the organization that coordinates all fusion-related technology as well as
      all work involving the JET (Joint European Torus), a intermediate-generation
      tokamak-type experimental fusion reactor.

      �The synergies that will develop in this research environment will reinforce
      the links between EPFL and the main European centers of fusion research
      excellence, in their common quest for a new and promising means of safe,
      efficient and sufficient energy production,� notes Tran. As a key player in
      this international involvement, Switzerland also stands to benefit in a
      larger sense from industrial spin-offs that will result from the project.

      An enormous energy potential

      Nuclear fusion represents a practically unlimited source of energy. Under
      extremely high pressures and temperatures, light atoms � isotopes of
      hydrogen, such as deuterium and tritium�come together, or fuse, producing
      enormous amounts of energy. A prime example is the Sun, where huge
      gravitational pressure allows fusion to take place at about 10 million
      degrees Celsius. At the gravitational pressure we experience on Earth,
      higher temperatures are required to generate fusion, and to date only
      tokamak-type reactors are capable of reaching the 100 million-degree-Celsius
      threshold where energy can be produced.

      In the last several years, considerable technological progress has been made
      in fusion research, leading to high expectations for the ITER. With this
      reactor, studies done at the CRPP and elsewhere on the feasibility and
      functioning of a nuclear fusion-based centre of electricity production can
      be brought to a successful conclusion, and the groundwork can be laid for
      the first prototype commercial fusion reactor. Up to this point
      energy-producing nuclear reactors have used fission, not fusion, to generate
      energy. Fusion reactors have important advantages; power stations will be
      inherently safe because �meltdown� or �runaway reactions� cannot occur, and
      these reactors do not generate long-lasting radioactive waste. Fusion
      reactors don�t emit greenhouse gases, and the basic fuels � hydrogen and
      lithium � are abundant and available everywhere.

      The energy production of ITER will be unprecedented: a single gram of
      deuterium fused with one and a half grams of tritium will produce ten
      million times as much energy as a gram of oil. The successful launch of
      these new technologies in the ITER reactor will set the stage for the
      successful use of fusion as an inexhaustible and sustainable energy source.


      How's the summer treatin' ya?


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