[FPSPACE] A Nuclear Fusion Reactor - in just twenty years...
ljk4 at msn.com
Tue Jun 28 12:15:31 EDT 2005
France Will Host World's First Nuclear-Fusion Reactor (Update3)
June 28 (Bloomberg) -- France was chosen to host the world's first
nuclear-fusion reactor, ending a deadlock with Japan over a location of the
4.6 billion euro ($5.6 billion) experiment involving the European Union,
Japan, the U.S., Russia, China and South Korea.
The six members of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or
ITER, which means ``the way'' in Latin, agreed in Moscow today to build the
facility in the southern French city of Cadarache, rather than
Rokkasho-Mura, the Japanese location favored by the U.S. and South Korea.
``We are dealing with the question of how to address sustainable energy in
the future,'' Janez Potocnik, European commissioner for science and
research, told reporters in Moscow today. ``And fusion looks very
Fusion, the process that powers stars, could be cheaper and safer than
fission, the action at the core of contemporary nuclear power plants. ITER
members say uniting the atoms of lighter elements such as hydrogen instead
of splitting heavier ones such as uranium generates more energy, less
Construction on the reactor will start by the end of the year and take seven
years to complete, said Russian Nuclear Energy Agency chief Alexander
Rumyantsev. Japan, as ``non-host country,'' will build the additional
facilities -- including a power plant prototype -- that will be needed as
the multidecade project advances, he said.
``The six-party agreement highlights the fact that energy security is an
international concern,'' said Kyriakos Gialoglou, energy researcher at the
Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels. ``With oil prices so high,
nuclear fusion is among the alternatives that need to be considered.''
Japan, backed by the EU, wants to be the first country to power homes with
nuclear fusion-generated electricity. Still, all six members of the ITER
project must agree on where the first plant will be built, said Raymond
Orbach, director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.
``We conducted negotiations with the desire to build ITER in Japan,'' Toichi
Sakata, head of research and development at Japan's science ministry, told
reporters in Tokyo today. ``Japan has asked the EU to thoroughly undertake
this task of hosting the reactor. It's a major responsibility.''
With or Without Japan
The EU said in November that it would start the project in France with or
without the support of Japan, the U.S. and South Korea, and committed itself
to starting construction in 2005.
The experimental plant will take about a decade to build and the
infrastructure needed to supply consumers will take about 35 years, said
Orbach, whose department last month established two fusion research centers
in the U.S.
``Placing ITER within a broader approach to nuclear fusion, should help to
bring it to market much sooner,'' the European Commission said in an
If all goes well and the project advances as planned, the total cost is
expected to reach 10 billion euros, including operating expenses through
Critics of the project, including Greenpeace, the environmental group, call
the project dangerous and misguided.
``Nuclear fusion poses the exact problems of nuclear fission in the
production of radioactive waste, the risks of accidents and proliferation,''
said Frederic Miller, head of Greenpeace France's nuclear campaign, in an
e-mailed statement. ``France seems hypnotized by this absurd project.''
ITER will have administrative offices in both Japan and Europe, with ``a
significant number of the meetings of the ITER council in Japan,'' according
to a document handed out to reporters at Japan's science ministry today.
The host and non-host will each contribute 46 billion yen ($418.3 million)
to fund operations in Japan, the document said. The EU will provide 40
percent of the staff for the project and Japan will provide 20 percent,
according to the document.
Funding for the reactor is still under discussion, Russia's Rumyantsev said
today. The host country will probably cover 50 percent of the cost, with the
other five partners each paying 10 percent, the Russian Nuclear Energy
Agency said on June 24.
To contact the reporters on this story:
Maria Ermakova in Moscow at mermakova at bloomberg.net;
Meggan Richard in Tokyo at mrichard3 at bloomberg.net.
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