Nuclear fusion, the process powering the sun, involves mashing atomic nuclei together to form heavier elements and releasing energy in the process. ITER— the largest fusion device ever — will provide the data for the design and subsequent operation of the first electricity producing fusion power plant.
About 23 Indian scientists from the Institute for Plasma Research and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre are at the site, almost 800 km from Paris. A large number of Indian scientists are also working back home building and designing equipment for the machine.
“The project will demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy. The largest component built by India is the cryostat, a metallic vessel to house the main machine. The components, fabricated at different Indian industries, will be brought here in 2015,” says Bharat Doshi, section leader of cryostat system.
ITER aims to deliver ten times the power it consumes. India contributes about 9% of the ITER cost. (EU contributes 45%). The broader objective of the project is to gain the knowledge necessary for the design of the next-stage device-- a demonstration fusion power plant.
ITER’s construction began in 2010 and is expected to finish in 2019. The machine is likely to be commissioned in 2022.
(The journalist is in France at the invitation of the French embassy as a precursor to India-France tech summit on Oct 23)