French Win Nuclear Fusion Plant Bid

    June 28, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

France will host the test nuclear fusion plant, after beating Japan for the $12 billion USD project.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor will be the most expensive joint scientific project ever launched, exceeding that of the International Space Station.

A site in Cadarache, located in southern France, will be home to the project. The ITER development became delayed when a bidding war between Japan and France erupted.

The US, Russia, China, and South Korea will join the two previously mentioned countries on the project’s development. The win for France comes at the expense of the location preferred by the US and South Korea, which was Rokkasho-Mura in Japan.

Nuclear fusion works differently than the process of fission, which powers nuclear plants today. Fission splits atoms to release energy. Fusion combines atoms instead. The fusion process has been limited to scientific experiments.

The ITER plant reactor will have to sustain temperatures in the 180 million F temperature range to produce power. “I give it a 50:50 chance of success but the engineering is very difficult,” said Ian Fells of Britain’s Royal Academy of Engineering.

“If we can really make this work there will be enough electricity to last the world for the next 1,000 to 2,000 years.”

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.