Skip to comments.Europe and Japan in heated clash over fusion reactor
Posted on 12/11/2004 6:38:23 PM PST by Pokey78
A battle has broken out over plans to build a reactor that could harness 'fusion power', source of the sun's energy, for humanity. European politicians and scientists want to construct a fusion plant in France. But the Japanese are insisting they should be hosts for the £3 billion project.
The row has caused a major diplomatic split: the EU, Russia and China want the International Tokamak Experimental Reactor (Iter) to be constructed at Cadarache in France, while the US, South Korea and Japan want to have it at Rokkasho-mura in Japan. The winner is likely to gain expertise in a technology that could save the planet.
'The chances of Iter working are only 50-50,' said Professor Ian Fells, a former science adviser to the World Energy Council. 'But fusion power would produce little radioactivity, no carbon dioxide, run on fuels that are easy to get and provide the world with most of its electricity requirements for hundreds of years.'
The sun burns by squeezing together the nuclei of hydrogen atoms to create helium nuclei, releasing vast amounts of energy but needing temperatures exceeding 10 million degrees Celsius. Engineers have worked out that the most promising method for containing super-hot hydrogen plasma is within a powerful, doughnut-shaped magnetic field. Such a power plant, a Tokamak reactor, burns hydrogen isotopes called deuterium and tritium to create helium and streams of neutrons that provide the plant's energy.
Small-scale trials have proved successful, such as the fusion reactor Jet (Joint European Torus) at Culham in Oxfordshire, which generated 16 megawatts of power - but soaked up 25 megawatts of electricity to run its magnetic fields and heat its deuterium and tritium plasma.
'It is really just an issue of scale,' said Sir Chris Llewellyn-Smith, head of Culham's fusion programme. 'If we create a reactor that can hold a thousand cubic metres of deuterium and tritium, 10 times more than Jet, we should be able to generate up to a gigawatt of power, the same as big coal-powered generators - which pump out carbon dioxide and spread acid oxides and particulates.' The bigger reac tor would generate much more power than it would consume.
Europe and Japan have each raised their stakes to 50 per cent - on condition they become the host. Last month negotiations ended without a resolution. They are due to restart, but it may take months to reach a decision.
I would certainly rather have the Japanese doing the engineering rather than the French.
I didn't think the US was participating in this project... Is that incorrect?
Build two, and let's see which one works first. I'd bet on the US/Korea/Japan plant.
I hope it build in UK .
Japan will still have a country because they have a sane immigration policy and insist would-be citizens prove not only the ability to be self-supporting but to get along with the native Japanese.
Please, may the Japanese get the reactor contract and not the French!
France is like that mean little girl on rug rats**
While EU have considered to build ITER on their own and depart from the international agreement, ambassador of Japan in France criticized that the action was against multinational partnership, a concept which European countries have cried many times for against the US in Iraq War. Now the EU is one step close practicing unilateralism on their own.
Aren't there a couple of small fusion test beds in the US already?
Nah, let them blow their money on trial and error until we know it will work for certain, then we copy it.
May you give me some information about that ?
Not sure which of my posts you are referring to but either way I don't have any more info to offer. I was kind of looking for some feedback myself...
I haven't really looked into this for a couple of years, but I doubt whether they will produce anything workable or economically feasible for quite a few years. It's still uncertain whether it can be done, although I agree that we should continue to pursue it.
The last country that should be allowed to control this project is France, in any case.
Haven't kept up with the latest, but last I heard, Lawrence Livermore has a small Tokomak that they ware experimenting with.