The assembly of the giant reactor of the international ITER program, with the aim of achieving hydrogen fusion and the production of almost inexhaustible energy, equivalent to solar, has officially begun in the South of France.
“With nuclear fusion, hydrogen can be a promise for the future,” he said. of ITER, at Saint-Paul-le-Dirans.
“The greatest scientific program in history”
“ITER is a promise of peace and progress,” said the French president, referring to the international program that began with the signing of a convention in 2006 with the participation of 35 countries, ie European Union member states (including the United Kingdom). , Switzerland, Russia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States.
Representatives of seven ITER partners spoke during the ceremony, all remotely videotaped. South Korean President Moon Jae-in hailed “the greatest scientific program in human history” and the search for “new scientific and technological frontiers” with the “common dream of producing clean and safe energy by 2050”.
The dream of hydrogen fusion began 15 years ago
The ITER project began almost 15 years ago on the banks of the River Dirans, 40 km from Ex-en-Provence, with the aim of reproducing the unlimited energy of the sun and stars through the fusion of hydrogen, in the hope of finding an alternative. in fossil fuels. The assembly process will last until the end of 2024, explained Bernard Bigo, General Manager of ITER.
Video: The process of building the reactor
In recent months, parts of the giant experimental reactor, called the Tokamak, some the size of a four-story building and weighing hundreds of tons, have been delivered to the site where it will be set up in India, China, Japan, South Korea or Italy.
Energy as produced in the heart of the sun
The giant reactor will reproduce the naturally occurring hydrogen fusion reaction in the heart of the sun : in particular, this fusion will be achieved by heating to a temperature of 150,000,000 degrees Celsius a mixture of two isotopes of hydrogen, of the second and third, which will have taken the form of plasma.
ITER will be able to produce the first plasma around the end of 2025 and the beginning of 2026, and the reactor will be fully operational in 2035.
If successful, fusion hydrogen will allow fossil fuel disposal. Based on fuels such as water and lithium, it has the advantage that it does not produce radioactive waste, unlike a nuclear reactor.