26 Jun (NucNet): The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) under construction in the south of France remains on track to achieve first plasma in 2025 and full-power operation in 2035, the Iter Council, Iter’s governing body, has said.
The council said after a two-day review meeting on 20 and 21 June 2018 that “project execution towards first plasma is now over 55% complete”.
First plasma means that the reactor is able to successfully generate a molten mass of electrically-charged gas – plasma – inside its core.
Council members also said the project is within budget. The council gave no details of project costs, but they have previously been put at around €15bn.
The council said it had approved “refinements” to the construction strategy which will optimise the installation of components in the tokamak complex. The tokamak is the toroidal apparatus for producing controlled fusion reactions in hot plasma.
According to the council, since January 2016 Iter has achieved 33 scheduled project milestones, including the recent commissioning of the first experiment of the neutral beam test facility in Padua, Italy.
Significant progress has also been made on the manufacturing of technologically challenging components such as the vacuum vessel and the toroidal field magnets.
Iter is designed to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion power and will be the world’s largest experimental fusion facility.
Fusion is the process that powers the sun and the stars. Europe is contributing almost half of the costs of its construction. The other six members of the venture – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US – are contributing equally to the rest.