The world’s largest ‘artificial sun’ has begun to be assembled

Tram Ho

Yesterday, July 28, the International Nuclear Thermal Experimental Reactor (ITER) held an installation and launch ceremony in southern France. Leaders from 35 partner countries participated in the celebration remotely via a live broadcast system. This project is built by EU, China, USA, Russia, UK, India, Japan and Korea, with a cost of 20 billion euros.

ITER is considered to be the largest and most influential international scientific project in the world, and is also the largest nuclear fusion project in human history with the main equipment containing millions of parts. The main purpose of the ITER project is to simulate the fusion process that produces energy from the sun, so its core device “Tokamak” is also known as the “artificial sun”.

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The assembly process has started and is expected to last for 5 years.

Basically, the sun generates energy through fusion, transmitting light and heat to the Earth, so that life on Earth can continue. ITER aims to generate energy by mimicking the sun’s nuclear fusion process. This fusion fusion, if successful, can provide clean and reliable energy without generating carbon emissions. Nuclear fusion is also safe because only a small amount of fuel is needed and there is no possibility of physical leakage due to melting materials.

Not to mention, the energy released by nuclear fuel the size of a pineapple will be equivalent to the energy released by burning 10,000 tons of coal. The cost of building and operating a nuclear fusion reactor is similar to the cost of building a nuclear fission reactor, but the waste it produces does not require high costs and long time to process.

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Diagram inside the Tokamak device.

ITER Director General, Bernard Bigot, said at the launching ceremony that the energy generated by ITER project will be “the miracle of the Earth” and the energy generated by fusion fusion and renewable energy sources. Another will change the world’s energy use.

Throughout the project, France is the host country. The European Union, the United Kingdom and Switzerland provide 45% of the funding for the ITER project. Other member countries contribute about 9%. But about 90% of the contribution of the ITER member states is provided in kind, to add to the complex components of this machine. The name Tokamak, comes from the Russian language and means “magnetic ring”.

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Each country is responsible for its own department.

In preparation for assembly, unprecedented gigantic parts have been shipped to France in recent months. Most components weigh several hundred tons and are longer than 15 meters. These sections are the result of over 5 years of technological research in factories, universities and laboratories in countries around the world.

Tokamak components must also meet very strict specifications, while making sure to follow the complicated timetable to get to France at the right time. Dr. Bernard Bigot describes assembling a piece of this machine as “solving a complex three-dimensional puzzle on the timeline”.

If successful, the ITER project’s nuclear power plant will generate about 500 megawatts of thermal energy. If it continues to work and is connected to the grid, the energy generated will be converted into about 200 megawatts of electricity, enough for 200,000 households.

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An electromagnetic module in the center core.

However, this project still has many difficulties to overcome. Examples are the weight and size issues of the tokamak core, along with the combination of components from different manufacturers, or tight build times. ITER plans to complete the installation in 4 to 5 years and is expected to make its first plasma launch by 2025.

Working process of nuclear fusion reactor

1. A few grams of deuterium and tritium gas are pumped into the reaction chamber in the shape of a giant donut of Tokamak.

2. Heat the gas until it becomes a plasma state, or ionized gas like the cloud.

3. Producing and controlling this “cloud” with a superconducting magnet weighing 10,000 tons.

4. When the plasma reaches 150 million degrees Celsius, a nuclear fusion occurs, with a temperature 10 times higher than the temperature of the solar core.

5. Ultra-high energy neutrons are created by fusion from the magnetic cage and transmit energy in the form of heat.

6. The water circulating in Tokamak Castle can absorb the heat generated and create steam. In commercial reactors, this process drives steam turbines to generate electricity.


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Source : Genk