Artificial star: Nuclear fusion reactor in France mimics sun
SCIENTISTS and engineers are trying to create a giant star to replicate the chemical reaction which occurs on the sun in order to produce energy in the most insane way imaginable.
A super-hot cloud of hydrogen will rotate faster than the speed of sound while being bombarded with surges of electric current which will leave the hydrogen ten times hotter than the sun’s core.
The project is called ITER, or the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, and if all goes according to plan, could provide a large chunk of the world’s energy requirements in the future.
The mind-boggling effort which the New Yorker called “the most complex machine ever built” will weigh 23,000 tons and will be as big as 60 football fields.ITER is currently being built in the south of France by a small legion of countries including the US, China, Russia, Japan and the EU.
Inside the monolithic building will be a nuclear reactor which its creators hope will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.Construction is under way for the planet’s first man-made star.Construction is under way for the planet’s first man-made star.
Source: Supplied According to the organisation’s website, ITER is based on the tokamak concept of magnetic confinement, in which the plasma is contained in a doughnut-shaped vacuum vessel. The fuel, which is a mixture of two isotopes of hydrogen, will be heated to temperatures in excess of 150 million degrees, forming a hot plasma.
By scorching it with concentrated waves of radiation, scientists believe they will be able to harness the energy (in the form of photons) which are created when atomic nuclei collide with each other. It is the same process of nuclear fusion which occurs on the sun.
The project was first conceived in 1987 but has run into a number of obstacles causing the expected end date to be pushed back.“We are now entering into manufacturing and preparations for assembly,” said Bernard Bigot in a March interview when he became Director-General of ITER.According to him, the scientific theory is all but bulletproof, it’s just a matter of building the facility.
“I am well aware of the difficulties, but these difficulties are more industrial and organisational than technological or scientific,” he said.Scientists are hopeful the earliest operations will commence in the 2020sA drawing of what the process will look like.