China joins search for fusion energy

The ITER project is one of the world’s most ambitious project to date; it aims to build a fusion device, the likes of which have never been seen before, the scale of the project precludes it
being undertaken by one country alone, therefore, the European Union and six other countries have combined their efforts to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion power.

And now China is further cementing its role as a partner in the project by announcing its contribution of around 10 billion Yuan (?95.2 million) to the vision.

In the south of picturesque France, just 60 kilometres from Marseille, lies the research centre Cadarache. It is here that the ITER project has its base and where production of the future
international tokamak fusion power reactor is underway. The choice of this site was decided in a final meeting in Moscow on 28 June 2005, and the fusion reactor is expected to start operating
in 2016.

In a recent move China has decided to contribute USD1.4 billion to ITER, an amount which represents about 10% of the project’s cost. About half of China’s contribution will be spent during the
10-year construction phase of the multinational undertaking. According to Luo Delong, deputy director of the ITER China Office, ‘The goal of the project is to find a shortcut to solve our
energy shortage.’ Furthermore, he said that Chinese researchers will be in charge of building components such as heating, diagnostic and remote maintenance equipment, as well as transporting it
to Cadarache in the south of France, where the ITER reactor will be built.

ITER, which means ‘the way’ in Latin, is a ?11 billion experiment to study the scientific and technical feasibility of the world’s most advanced nuclear fusion reactor. The device is described
as an ‘artificial sun’ as it will create conditions similar to those occurring in solar nuclear fusion reactions. If successful, the project could generate infinite, safe and clean energy to
replace fossil fuels such as oil and coal. It will be 30 times more powerful than the Joint European Torus (JET), the largest comparable experiment.

The ITER project was first initiated by the United States and the then Soviet Union in the mid-1980s. Today, it involves the European Union (EU), the US, Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea,
China and India. China joined in February 2003. The ITER Agreement, signed in November 2006, came into effect last October and has an initial duration of 35 years, although it could be extended
for an additional 10 years.

Under the agreement, the EU will be responsible for half of the construction costs, while the other five parties, excluding India, will contribute equally to cover the remaining expenses.

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The ITER project

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