News & AnalysisNUCLEAR FUSION

JET Fusion Reactor Passes 30 and Plunges Into Midlife Crisis

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Science  12 Jul 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6142, pp. 121
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6142.121

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Summary

The world's largest fusion reactor, the 30-year-old Joint European Torus (JET), may close in 2018 unless the cash-strapped European Union can persuade partners in other parts of the world to help keep it running. Researchers want to keep JET on line as a testbed for its similar but larger successor, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), now being built in France. Both ITER and JET are experimental reactors that seek to generate power by nuclear fusion. In theory, fusion reactors ought to be much more powerful than conventional fission reactors, but so far technical hurdles have kept them well below the break-even point at which they would start to produce more energy than they consume.