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Fusion 'Consolation Prize' Gears Up for Show Time

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Science  18 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5985, pp. 1464-1465
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5985.1464

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A unique particle accelerator and the fastest supercomputer in Japan are part of a plan to bring fusion energy a step closer to reality. They are proceeding in parallel with the single most important experiment for the future of fusion power, the $12 billion International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). Now under construction in Cadarache, France, ITER is meant to show that it is possible to harvest energy from magnetically contained plasma burning at immense temperatures. But ITER will not fully test fuel production for the plasma envisioned for future reactors, and it will not investigate the advanced materials they require. That's where the $900 million research effort here in Rokkasho, called the Broader Approach, comes in. The project, funded by Japan and six European nations, passed a major milestone on 27 April when its buildings opened on schedule.