Not so long ago, the last support and ceiling of the building was established, which is the premises for the largest and most ambitious experiment in the field of thermonuclear energy. And now a group of engineers has already begun work in this building, who assemble and connect the units into a single design of the ITER fusion reactor. Note that this project has been under implementation since 1985 and its goal is to create an experimental reactor in which fast thermonuclear fusion reactions, similar to those occurring in the bowels of the sun, will occur. And the research and experiments conducted at the ITER reactor should ultimately lead to the emergence of a practically inexhaustible source of clean energy.
The ITER reactor (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is a tokamak-type fusion reactor, the creation of which involves thousands of scientists and engineers from 35 countries. Tokamak reactors have a circular toroidal chamber in which a ring of high-temperature plasma from hydrogen atoms is created. Plasma is compressed by means of a magnetic field generated by magnets with superconducting windings, its density and temperature rise to values at which fusion reactions begin to take place, releasing huge amounts of energy.
Designers of tokamak reactors always face a number of technological problems associated with ensuring the stability of the plasma cord, heating the plasma to an ultra-high temperature, and holding it for a sufficient time to initiate fusion reactions.
In the world there are quite a lot of experimental tokamak-type reactors, which are constantly conducting experiments and research. For example, in the reactor of the British company Tokamak Energy last year plasma was obtained, heated to a temperature of 15 million degrees Celsius. And in the Chinese Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak reactor in 2016, plasma was held for a record 102 seconds, and last year, plasma temperatures of about 100 million degrees Celsius were reached.
However, all existing reactors are very far from the capabilities of the ITER reactor. The new reactor will operate with plasma, the density of which is at least 10 times higher than the maximum density obtained to date. Moreover, a larger volume of plasma held in the reactor chamber provides more opportunities for initiating fusion reactions. The expected energy “exhaust” of the ITER reactor, which will be at the level of 500 MW, is also of great importance. For comparison, the current record set in 1997 at the Joint European Torus reactor is 16 MW.
According to plans, the stage of connecting millions of parts into a single reactor design will take five years. And the first plasma will be “lit” in the ITER reactor chamber approximately in 2025.