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Fusion: Update on the International ITER Project

According to Brig. General Stephen Cheney, CEO of the American Security Project, “The science is proven, the engineering is not.”

That is how Wednesday, January 29, 2014’s ASP hosted event “Fusion: Update on the International ITER Project” was introduced. ITER is an international fusion research and engineering project which combines the resources and intellect of China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, United States, and the European Union. Fusion is the process that powers the Sun and allows for all life to exist. Scientists are currently seeking to harvest this incredible power according to the presentation by Dr. Ned Sauthoff.

Dr. Sauthoff, US ITER Project Director, gave an overview of the process of nuclear fusion, the history of man’s quest to exploit nuclear physics, and detailed ITER’s current project and construction of a test reactor in Cadarache, France.

He began the presentation with the sun, the source of inspiration for nuclear fusion. The sun is rich with hydrogen, including deuterium and tritium isotopes, the fuel for fission. It has a large quantity of energy, which is necessary for fusion to overcome natural repelling forces between hydrogen atoms. The sun also has a very strong gravitational field, which prevent the matter and reactants from escaping a contained area and allows for the energy produced from one reaction to power more perpetually. It is this last aspect, confining the products and preventing energy from radiating away as waste, which has perplexed scientists. ITER hopes to solve this problem through a tokamak, a device which creates a super strong magnetic field, replicating how matter is restrained by the sun’s gravity.

Magnetic confinement fusion has not yet reached breakeven point (that is, producing more energy than it uses). Fusion would have exceeded the breakeven point already, according to Dr. Sauthoff, if not for the lack of funding during the 1990s.


The Central Solenoid, the machinery which creates magnetic field. Photo courtesy of


The Cooling Water System. Photo courtesy of

When fully developed, ITER expects to create 500 megawatts of energy from fusion energy, ten times the amount of the 50 megawatts needed to initiate fusion, and many times more efficient than other energy sources.

Dr. Sauthoff emphasized that fusion is a clean power source and does not produce radioactive waste nor can a fusion reactor “meltdown,” two of the biggest drawbacks often associated with nuclear power. In addition, it requires relatively little sources of fuel: “Whereas you have a hundred coal train cars pull up to a power plant every day, with fusion, you would need only two pounds of fuel to create the same amount of energy.”

The United States’ two biggest contributions to the ITER project are the Central Solenoid, a gigantic magnet that will control the plasma in the reactor, and the Cooling Water System which will cool the immense temperatures reached inside the reactor before it can affect external instruments. Additionally, the United States is contributing to the diagnostics system, because the US is a leader in controlling, measuring, and researching plasma.

Diplomatic representatives in attendance from the EU, Japan, China, India, and France expressed their country’s continued commitment and dedication to the project.

american security project

13 Comments on "Fusion: Update on the International ITER Project"

  1. meld on Fri, 31st Jan 2014 12:22 pm 

    What a giggle

  2. Makati1 on Fri, 31st Jan 2014 1:14 pm 

    Pure fantasy!

  3. J-Gav on Fri, 31st Jan 2014 3:47 pm 

    Brain-cell meltdown.

  4. Northwest Resident on Fri, 31st Jan 2014 5:34 pm 

    meld — Makati1 — J-Gav: It looks like you guys just refuse to accept the reality that an advanced space alien civilization has come to our rescue, and are currently teaching our top scientists how to develop and harness fusion energy. How could you possibly be so naïve?

  5. Bob Owens on Sat, 1st Feb 2014 1:12 am 

    We would be producing power now from Fusion if only we had more funding!

  6. DC on Sat, 1st Feb 2014 4:17 am 

    Are people *still* repeating this shit like this?

    Q/Dr. Sauthoff emphasized that fusion is a clean power source and does not produce radioactive waste nor can a fusion reactor “meltdown,” two of the biggest drawbacks often associated with nuclear power. In addition, it requires relatively little sources of fuel:

    What is this guy a doctor of? Phrenology? Fusion power would produce plenty of radioactive waste. In fact, Fusion waste would still be lethal for ‘only’ 10-20,000 years or so.Also, fusion requires plenty of fuel, perhaps not the same outrageous tonnages as fission does, but the energy, effort, time and money required to process feedstocks into fuel that a fusion power could actually utilize-would hardly be trivial either.

    If fusion ever became ‘doable’ it would likely require a fission nuclear station,(or two) just to kickstart a fusion reaction, is my guess.

    That website is another US militarist global nonthinking tank. Hardly a source anyone should pay any attention to.

  7. Arthur on Sat, 1st Feb 2014 9:27 am 

    According to Brig. General Stephen Cheney, CEO of the American Security Project, “The science is proven, the engineering is not.”

    Indeed, the sun is living proof that fusion works. And I would not exclude that in some remote future it could work on earth. But we are running out of time and can’t bet the continuation of our civilization on a technology that does not exist. Meanwhile this is now reality in many Bavarian towns…

    … no longer just in Wilpoldsried. This DOES work and if it works in Bavaria, it can work in any western town and later elsewhere. Scarce resources should channeled to this. Fusion had it’s chance for 60 years and blew it. Cut the crap.

  8. GregT on Sat, 1st Feb 2014 6:16 pm 

    I think people are somewhat missing the point here. Even if it were possible, what would fusion do to solve our current dilemmas? Overpopulation, resource depletion, food and water crises, species extinction, etc., all would be exacerbated by any attempts at further continuation of BAU. We need more energy sources like we need cancer.

  9. John N on Mon, 3rd Feb 2014 10:41 pm 

    Cheap power can do anything. Once you can power separation of seawater to potable, you can feed billions easily.

    You can also power manufacturing and recycling cheaply, and supply anything at all.

    This is called post-scarcity, and is the promise of fusion power.

    As for the “we could have had fusion 20 years ago” comment, yes that’s fantasy. But the reality is that we spend internationally less than $5 billion a year on fusion research. Compare that with drilling budgets from Exxon /Mobil, etc.

  10. PirateRo on Tue, 4th Feb 2014 4:32 pm 

    These are seriously poor attempts to social engineering.

    The fact is we need more and BETTER sources of power aside from fossil. What you see here are attempts to stem the progress of man for purposes of turning cheap coin.

    The fact is energy is entirely too important and fundamental a market to allow profit-taking like before. It needs to be produced so cheaply it is not worth monitoring. We need vast new fields of fusion reactors producing gigawatts of power for everyone so that we can get on with the business of living our lives instead of simply being a cog in someone else’s machine.

    Onward and upwards.

  11. Donald Jasby on Fri, 7th Feb 2014 12:31 am 

    Solar fusion and manmade fusion are different animals.

    Solar fusion uses the proton-proton reaction and produces harmless deuterium (and energy that emerges from the sun mainly as electromagnetic including visible light).

    Manmade fusion uses the deuterium-tritium reaction and produces mainly high-energy neutrons. These neutrons gradually destroy the containment structure while creating masses of radioactive material.

    If you really want fusion-based electricity, go to the nearest Home Depot and pay $500 for solar panels and an inverter that you can set up in your backyard. That’s as close as anybody will ever come.

  12. save the future of mankind now! on Sun, 9th Feb 2014 6:38 am 

    It’s sound lunatic a few years back that the atmosphere is changing because of the burning of fossil fuel, this is the only available technology to replace fossil fuels that poisoned our air in a massive scale, so please the make the engineering of this science a reality. So that polluting smoke stacks of power plants, refineries and nuclear meltdown and global warming a thing of the past.

  13. afshar badrloo on Mon, 11th Sep 2017 9:12 am 


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