China joins search for fusion energy

China announced last month that it was joining up as a partner in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) – the nuclear fusion reactor that is being built in France. The project hopes to go online by 2016. China will contribute 1.4 billion dollars, which equals about 10% of the expected cost. The experimental fusion reactor is backed by the European Union, The United States, Russia, Japan, India, South Korea, and China.

According to the European Commission, “ITER, which means ‘the way’ in Latin, is an EUR 11 billion experiment to study the scientific and technical feasibility of the world’s most advanced nuclear fusion reactor. The device is described as an ‘artificial sun’ as it will create conditions similar to those occurring in solar nuclear fusion reactions. If successful, the project could generate infinite, safe and clean energy to replace fossil fuels such as oil and coal, and will be 30 times more powerful than the Joint European Torus (JET), the largest comparable experiment.”

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