Is it possible to create an artificial sun? … Utopia or not, of course we must try and the reason is obvious, we need unlimited energy and that of course respects the environment to maintain a stable energy balance in the face of the excessive growth of the world population.
The speed of growth is unstoppable, we have reached such a critical point that we have gone from around 170 million humans on Earth, to the billions of today. Actually, if we reference each country with the number of inhabitants, we would have a representative map like the following image.
Solutions from the energy perspective, many, some more viable than others, but there is one that stands out above the average, is the project ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) that has greater ambition than renewable conventional.
In the south of France, the world's brightest scientists have joined forces since 2007 to develop the largest fusion reactor in history. The Iter, which means "the way" in Latin. A international nuclear fusion project what has like aim to create a new type of reactor capable of producing unlimited supplies of cheap electricity, clean, free of carbon emissions, safe and sustainable from atomic fusion.
Remember the article about what we will do with all solar panels when they finish their useful life… Recycling?
It will weigh three times more than the Eiffel Tower and cover a space the size of 60 football fields.
The The idea is to reproduce the fusion process that occurs in the core of our Sun., when hydrogen nuclei collide, merging into heavier atoms and releasing tremendous amounts of energy. In Iter, the fusion reaction will be accomplished in a device calledTokamak ITER It uses magnetic fields to contain and control plasma, which will heat up to extremely high temperatures.
One million components, ten million pieces! … the ITER Tokamak will be the largest and most powerful fusion device in the world. Designed to produce 500 MW of fusion power per 50 MW of input heat output (a power amplification ratio of 10), it will take its place in history as the first fusion device to create net energy.
According to the project manager … "The biggest advantage is the fuel used, which is hydrogen. There is a lot of hydrogen in nature. It is found in the sea and in lakes. So we have an endless supply of fuel. Another advantage is the way we will handle the waste: radioactive waste is produced, but its useful life is very short: only a few hundred years, compared to millions of years in the case of fission. '
Fusion, the nuclear reaction that powers the Sun and stars, is a safe, non-carbon, and virtually limitless potential source of energy. Harnessing the energy of fusion is the goal of ITER, which has been conceived as the key experimental step between today's fusion research machinery and fusion power plants of tomorrow.
ITER members China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States have entered a 35-year collaboration to build and operate the device. A two-decade research program is planned during which Members will share experimental results and generated intellectual property.
But…What type of nuclear waste will ITER produce and in what quantity?Fusion reactors, unlike fission reactors, do not produce highly active or long-lived radioactive waste. The "burned" fuel in a fusion reactor is helium, an inert gas.
The activation produced on the surfaces of the material by fast neutrons will produce residues that are classified as very low, low or medium activity residues. All waste materials will be treated, packed and stored on site.
Since the half-life of most radioisotopes contained in this waste is less than ten years, within 100 years the radioactivity of the materials will have decreased so significantly that the materials can be recycled for use (in other fusion plants, for example).
This 100-year timeline could be shortened for future devices through the continued development of "low-activation" materials, which is an important part of fusion research and development today.
The activation or contamination of the components of the so-called ship, the vacuum container, the fuel circuit, the refrigeration system, the maintenance equipment or the buildings will produce some 30,000 tons of dismantling waste that will be removed from the ITER scientific facility. and will be processed.
The big problem of the Iter project is its enormous cost. It is currently estimated at € 16 billion, and has tripled since the initial 2006 estimates. Iter's first supplies of commercially produced energy can begin in 2050.
Creating a replica of the Sun on Earth, a very ambitious dream, but one in which these scientists firmly believe.
We can learn more from the ITER Project (HERE) and from the European Union with its official website HERE.
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