Posts Tagged ‘Fusion power’

ITER – which means ‘the way’ if you are a Latin scholar or International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor if you aren’tis an international nuclear fusion research and engineering project, which is currently building the world’s largest and most advanced experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor at Cadarache just north of Pertuis.

We visited today, a treat for M. Aixcentric, but to my surprise, I found it extremely interesting too.  The guided tours take one hour – we were bused from the car-park into the complex where we saw the massive building site and then went to the visitors’ centre to learn about what is happening there.

The fusion reactor itself will produce 500 megawatts of output power for 50 megawatts of input power, or ten times the amount of energy put in. The core will heat up to 150m degrees, ten times hotter than the sun.  Huge magnets around the reactor will confine the reaction and nearby they are constructing big pools to cool the water before it is released.

I was fascinated by the logistics of the operation.  All the partners (China, Japan, S Korea, Europe, the US and Russia) are supplying components which arrive in France at Fos.  From there they are taken by barge across the Etang de Berre and then by overnight convoys travelling at 5 kph.

This is the sort of driver-less 52-axel truck that will be used, and to smooth its way, bridges are being built alongside existing ones, roads are being widened, power-lines are being buried and round-abouts flattened.

We learned so much about the reactor, the numbers of people being employed, the international school created for their families, their work to preserve the local bio-diversity, their precautions against earthquakes – our guide was really excellent.

I can only suggest you try a tour yourself!  They take place Mon-Fri – email visit@iter.org.  Alternatively have a look at their website www.iter.org which has lots of info and video clips of their progress.


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