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Home » ITER

At the beginning of the 21st century, mankind is faced with a serious problem of having to cope with rising world population, rapid industrial growth and associated with it, a growing energy demand, especially in the third world countries. This, compounded by the ever dwindling resources of conventional energy, namely the fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil, drives the quest for alternate energy sources.

Nuclear fusion today provides us the most promising alternative energy source. Remarkable progress of fusion research over the last few decades in this direction has brought us today very close to trapping energy from nuclear fusion. Experiments in tokamak based magnetic confinement fusion research, e.g., in TFTR, JET and JT-60U tokamaks have produced remarkable results. JET has achieved operations in Deuterium-Tritium plasmas close to the so called break-even condition, where the produced fusion power is equal to the power required to carry out the experiment itself.


ITER is the next major experiment in the quest for fusion energy in which 500MW of fusion power would be produced, about 10 times more than the input power of 50MW.

ITER was conceptualized in 1985 following an initiative by President Gorbachov of the erstwhile Soviet Union and President Reagon of the United States which culminated in an unprecedented collaboration by the original four parties : namely the European Union, Japan, the Russian Federation (then Soviet Union) and the USA.

The physics and engineering design activities of ITER, leading to a final acceptable design was completed in 2001. In 2003 first South Korea and then China joined ITER and India became the seventh partner in 2005. With this, scientists and engineers representing more than half the world’s populations have become involved in ITER. The political map of the present ITER participants is shown in Figure.

In 2005, following lengthy negotiations among the partners, Cadarache in the south of France was selected as the site for constructing ITER. ITER will cost about 5 billion Euros and 10 years to build, with another 5 billion Euros estimated in operation cost. ITER will be built mostly through in-kind contributions by the partners, in which they manufacture the ITER components assigned to them through their representative Domestic Agencies (DAs), which are delivered to ITER site for final assembly. ITER is scheduled to become operational in 2016 and operate for a further 20 years.

ITER is a great hope to give a solution to the long term energy needs for mankind. If and when it becomes successful, it would surely be another giant step for mankind, as significant as, say, the landing on the Moon, perhaps even greater.

More details about the ITER project can be obtained from www.iter.org

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