The 30-year-old project International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), is getting close to burning hot now that its 1250-tonne steel base of the cryostat, which will cover the magnetic system at cryogenic temperature from the environment, has been installed by engineers.
This is a milestone that marks the installation of the first and heaviest component of the ITER fusion machine, WNN reports.
So, now in 2020, three decades and a reported $23.7 billion later, the 25,000-ton ITER is one step to shining like a star, thanks to its engineers.
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A miniature sun
The experimental tokamak fusion reactor, which is a nuclear plasma reactor where very hot, charged plasma spins and generates limitless energy, is one of the rare and costly "miniature suns" that we have around the world. They basically need years to get up to temperatures hot enough to induce nuclear fusion.
30-meter-high, 30-meter-in-diameter ITER cryostat
The project was first started by President Ronal Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and now with it has received it's most latest step of a ten-year effort to design, manufacture, deliver, assemble, and weld one of the most crucial components of the ITER machine. That is the huge, 30-meter-high, 30-meter-in-diameter ITER cryostat.
The largest tokamak in the world's 1,250-ton base is in the making. Procured by India, elements of the base section were delivered to ITER back in December 2015, and the component was finalized by July 2019.
An important moment in history
Now, installed in ITER at Cadarache in south-eastern France, this marks an important moment in history. Construction has finally begun in the ITER facility, beginning with the 1,250-ton base.
Before the installation of the component, ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot stated, "The coming moments will stand out in the minds and memories of us all. What you will accomplish today, as a team, is something that has never been done before in history - and although you have rehearsed it many times, it will be a first-of-a-kind operation."
"We trust the engineering calculations, strategy, and control. We trust the materials science. We trust the metrology. But my confidence today is because I trust you to work as one committed and highly professional team, convinced as we all are that failure is not an option."
Operation started on 26 May
The operation started on the morning of 26 May, and the base of the cryostat was lifted, then transported to the circular opening of the machine assembly pit.
The cryostat base was descended into the concrete cylinder onto 12 hydraulic jacks that were put there to support its weight until some adjustments were made.
The operation was completed on 27 May.
Switching on the tokamak in 2035
Following the historic start, ITER says it will switch on the tokamak in 2035. This means that all parts will be installed and fully integrated, and it is then that the reactor will begin accumulating temperature. From then on, it will take 10 years, barring incident, for it to reach fusion. Exciting!