energybiz brings us the latest developments on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the world’s first fusion reactor under construction in the south of France.  You can read our last post here.  You can visit the ITER website here.

ITER is the most expensive scientific experiment in human history. It is a research and engineering project that will attempt to replicate the nuclear processes of the Sun to generate enormous quantities of energy through fusion, a clean nuclear process which generates very little radioactivity. Nuclear fusion attempts to reproduce the energy of the Sun by heating gas to millions of degrees, turning it into plasma. This contrasts with our current nuclear fission, which splits atoms, releasing energy and radioactive decay. Were ITER to become operational, it could supply clean and theoretically endless amounts of energy.

We now learn that  ITER has now graduated from the design stage to production.

At the heart of the facility is the three-building Tokamak Complex, one of which will house the reactor. This complex is being built in a seismic isolation pit with a concrete base and 493 seismic pads to shield the reactor. Last year, excavation of the reactor’s site was completed and workers began to pour the building’s foundation and install the pads.

In November, work started on the installation of the pylons that will carry 400-kilovolt power lines to the facility. The ITER headquarters building that will include offices for 500 people, meeting rooms and a footbridge to the ITER control room is  to be completed this summer.

As a result of the Fukushima disaster in Japan in March 2011, the first experiment at ITER might be pushed back a year to 2020. Facilities in Japan that were carrying out work on the conductor to be placed in the reactor’s central solenoid were damaged and some work was delayed.

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