On Tuesday, the world’s largest nuclear fusion project began in Cadarache, south of France. The first ultra-hot plasma is expected to be generated in late 2025. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is a joint effort by eight countries namely Japan, the United States, India, Russia, China, South Korea, and the European Union. It will be the first fusion device to produce net energy, maintain fusion for a prolonged period of time and test the integrated technologies, materials, and physics regimes that are necessary for the commercial production of fusion-based electricity.
The project will recreate the reactions that power the sun and will demonstrate that fusion power can be generated on a commercial scale. The project has to however overcome the technical challenges of harnessing such extreme amounts of energy.
The French President, Emmanuel Macron said that the innovation would play a significant role in addressing global issues including climate change and realizing a sustainable carbon-free society. If the experiment is successful then it can find industrial applications and a non-polluting, carbon-free, safe and almost waste-free energy will be developed. Bernard Bigot the director of ITER said that the use of clean energy would a miracle for our planet.
In 1985, the project was first proposed at a summit between US President, Ronald Reagan, and Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. It took nearly more than 20 years to begin the project. The members of the project settled in a device known as tokamak which is used to trap hydrogen that has been heated to 150 million degrees Celsius. This process results in the release of a large amount of energy of heat. There are other fusion experiments, but ITER’s project is considered the most advanced.