International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject. It is the world’s largest magnetic confinement plasma physics experiment and is also an experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor.
In June 2016, iter.org reported that the ITER council had officially announced its endorsement of the Resource-Loaded Integrated Schedule for the ITER Project, which identified the date of First Plasma as December 2025, deeming the initiative as “challenging but technically achievable.”
The ITER project aims to create the long-awaited transition from experimental studies of plasma physics to full-scale electricity-producing fusion power stations. Specifically, the machine proposes to exhibit the principle of greater energy production from the fusion process — something that has not yet been achieved in any fusion reactor. Until now.
Fusion energy has been and is still a topic of interest and concern in both real-world science and science fiction. It is what can be claimed as something everyone wants but has remained out of reach. Until a company in the United Kingdom (UK) — Tokamak Energy — created a fusion reactor, named ST40.
On May 1, 2017, Tokamak Energy made history by becoming the first company to successfully manufacture First Plasma with ST40, putting humanity a step closer to attaining completely sustainable energy, and minimizing the waiting time for fusion energy to be available.
The primary concept behind a fusion reactor is to generate a high enough temperature of heat that it can fuse hydrogen atoms, therefore, allowing it to self-sustain. Essentially, this means generating heat that is comparable with the temperature at the center of the Sun, producing unlimited clean energy the world seriously needs.
Unlike nuclear fission that is already being used in today’s nuclear reactors, nuclear fusion involves atoms being fused together instead of being split apart.
Nuclear fusion is the process that fuels the Sun and if scientists are able to figure out how to replicate the same process on Earth, it would allow humans to tap into unlimited supplies of clean energy which is now a necessity, especially in light of the accelerating threat from global warning.
In line with this, Tokamak Energy is working on increasing the temperature its reactor can make, aiming to achieve temperatures as hot as the sun’s center — 27 million degrees Fahrenheit or 15 million degrees Celsius – within the year. From there, they intend to achieve much higher degrees. Their ultimate target is 180 million degrees Fahrenheit or 100 million degrees Celsius, the temperature required to acquire a self-sustaining fusion reactor.
The road will be long, and it won’t be easy. But the motivation is clear. The world desperately needs clean energy, and the company intends to deliver.
As Tokamak Energy CEO David Kingham said in a press release: “We will still need significant investment, many academic and industrial collaborations, dedicated and creative engineers and scientists, and an excellent supply chain. Our approach continues to be to break the journey down into a series of engineering challenges, raising additional investment on reaching each new milestone. We are already half-way to the goal of fusion energy; with hard work we will deliver fusion power at commercial scale by 2030.”