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Japan: inauguration of an experimental nuclear fusion reactor in partnership with ITER

2023-12-01T09:09:13.568Z

Highlights: A vast Japanese-European experimental nuclear fusion project, "the energy of the stars" raising many hopes, was inaugurated Friday in Japan. Housed at the Naka Fusion Institute, about 60 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, the JT-<>SA is currently the largest operational "tokamak" (experimental nuclear fusion reactor) in the world. On 23 October, it succeeded for the first time in producing plasma, a very low-density gas essential for nuclear fusion. The U.S. government hopes to be able to start commercial operation of nuclear fusion within the next ten years.


A vast Japanese-European experimental nuclear fusion project, the "energy of the stars" ("Star Energy"), which has raised a lot of hopes, was inaugurated on Friday at the University of Paris.


A vast Japanese-European experimental nuclear fusion project, "the energy of the stars" raising many hopes, was inaugurated Friday in Japan on a partner and complementary site of the ITER program in France, which accumulates setbacks and delays. Housed at the Naka Fusion Institute, about 60 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, the JT-<>SA is currently the largest operational "tokamak" (experimental nuclear fusion reactor) in the world, pending the completion of ITER.

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Today is a great day for the history of the merger (...). With this tokamak, Japan and Europe are positioning themselves as world leaders in fusion research" by magnetic confinement, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said at a ceremony in Naka broadcast online.

The result of agreements between Japan and the European Union signed in 2007, the construction of this 15.5-metre-high, 13.5-metre-diameter tokamak lasted from 2013 to 2020. And on 23 October, it succeeded for the first time in producing plasma, a very low-density gas essential for nuclear fusion.

JT-60SA is designed to address physics questions that are essential to better prepare for the operation of ITER and, in the longer term, commercial applications of nuclear fusion. The fusion of light atomic nuclei is the energetic process at work in stars, such as our Sun.

It is considered a very promising future energy source because it does not generate greenhouse gases, produces less radioactive waste than current nuclear power plants, and unlike the latter would be safe according to scientists.

However, fusion is only possible by heating plasma to extremely high temperatures (more than a hundred million degrees Celsius). To prevent this material from cooling and remaining stable, it must be isolated, for example using mega-magnets in the case of JT-60SA and ITER.

Above all, for this energy source to be viable, it will be necessary to ensure that the energy produced exceeds that used to cause the reaction. Using another plasma containment technology, using an ultra-powerful laser, the United States was the first to achieve a net energy gain with nuclear fusion a year ago, and repeated this feat last summer by improving yield.

Encouraged by these successes, the U.S. government now hopes to be able to start commercial operation of nuclear fusion within the next ten years. The ITER construction site is experiencing a series of setbacks, leading to delays and additional costs, due in particular to defective essential parts. Originally planned for 2025, its first plasma production could be pushed back by several years.

Source: lefigaro

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