News of the WeekFusion Research

ITER Gets the Nod for Slower, Step-by-Step Approach

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Science  26 Jun 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5935, pp. 1627
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_1627

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The managers of the ITER fusion project are still scrambling to draw up a final design, schedule, and cost estimate for the massive reactor. But the international partners behind the effort agreed last week to build the project in stages so engineers can make corrections if something goes awry early on. First, a simple stripped-down reactor will start producing a superhot hydrogen plasma in 2018; then components will gradually be added to prepare it for a power-producing plasma of deuterium and tritium by the end of 2026, some 18 months to 2 years later than previously planned. Member countries agreed to the new plan at the half-yearly meeting of the ITER council in Mito, Japan, contingent on their accepting the full revised design, costing, and schedule at their next meeting in November.