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ITER nuclear fusion project avoids delays as U.S. doubles budget

Alternative Energy

The United States has agreed to double its planned 2018 budget contribution to the ITER project to build a prototype nuclear fusion reactor, avoiding delays to the international project this year, its director said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO – A crane loads equipments at the construction site of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance,Southern France, October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Washington cut the United States’ 2017 contribution from a scheduled $105 million to $50 million and had planned to cut its 2018 contribution from a scheduled $120 million to $63 million.

But in last-minute talks about the U.S. 2018 budget last week, the U.S. Congress approved a draft Omnibus Spending Bill with a $122 million in-kind contribution for ITER, which President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday, ITER said.

“This is a very positive signal … it will prevent ITER having to announce project delays in 2018,” ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot told Reuters in a telephone interview.

He added that if the United States would make up for missing cash contributions of about $120 million for the 2016-18 period, ITER would remain on track in future years.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project is a cooperation between Europe, the United States, China, India, Japan, Russia and South Korea to build a prototype fusion reactor to generate electricity in a process similar to the nuclear fusion that powers the sun.

With an estimated cost of about 20 billion euros ($25 billion), the project is more than halfway towards the first test of its super-heated plasma by 2025 and first full-power fusion by 2035.

ITER member countries contributions to the project are not mainly in cash but in kind, as they finance the manufacturing of ITER components via their own national companies. These parts are then shipped to France and assembled on ITER’s Cadarache, southern France site.

But there is also a cash contribution, which for the U.S. was 30-32 million euros per year in the 2016 to 2018 period, or about 100 million euros, Bigot said.

“We hope that at least maybe a small part of the U.S. 2018 contribution could be in cash so as to give a political signal to the other ITER members,” said Bigot, who was appointed ITER director in 2015.

ITER’s main U.S. supplier is California-based General Atomics, which is building the project’s central solenoid, an 18-metre tall pillar-like magnet that will be one of the first components to be installed by 2020.

The United States has given about $1 billion to ITER so far, and had been planning to contribute an additional $500 million through 2025.


7 Comments on "ITER nuclear fusion project avoids delays as U.S. doubles budget"

  1. fmr-paultard on Tue, 27th Mar 2018 9:17 am 

    This machine is too big and too complex it’s prone to failures. Thank you supertards for working on this problem

  2. Outcast_Searcher on Tue, 27th Mar 2018 12:24 pm 

    When they have to brag about not announcing product delays, that really says something.

    How about announcing break-even for a few seconds, even in a lab setting, for example?

    So as usual, Iter makes man made practical fusion “only” 40 or so years away.

    Let’s just invest all the doubtful money in that (and other fusion dreams) on windmills, solar tiles/panels, and batteries — which we know work, and get on with the practical transition to green energy already.

  3. Outcast_Searcher on Tue, 27th Mar 2018 12:25 pm 

    oops. project delays, not product delays. I HATE that this comment format doesn’t allow proof reading and editing.

  4. Anonymouse1 on Tue, 27th Mar 2018 1:52 pm 

    A whole 60 million uS tacked on for 2018 for fusion uhh…’research’? That’s a relief. I figured fusion would be delayed for a least 30 or 40 years over the amerikans stinginess. No longer.

    In other news

    Pentagon Spends $1 Billion Destroying $16 Billion of Ammo. DOD purchased $16 billion worth of ammunition that it didn’t actually need, according to a Government Accountability Office investigation that found much of the ammo became “obsolete, unusable or their use is banned by international treaty.”

    $80 Million “Iron Man” Suit for Soldiers That Might Not Work. The DOD is pouring millions into a wearable weapon it calls the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) otherwise known as the “Iron Man” suit. It has a budget so far of $80 million in order to create a suit of armor that soldiers can wear while also being able to carry hundreds of pounds of gear Some scientists are already skeptical and say soldiers would never be able to move around in the heavy armor—let alone carry anything else.

    $300 Million a Year Unaccounted for in Afghanistan. In the latest example of lax oversight, a blistering new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reveals the Pentagon isn’t keeping sufficient tabs on the $300 million in tax dollars each year that are supposed to help fund the payroll of the Afghan National Police (ANP).

    U.S. Weapons Worth $500 Million Vanish in Yemen. Pentagon officials cannot track the whereabouts of $500 million worth of military equipment the U.S. donated to Yemen since 2007 – raising alarms that the hardware may have ended up with al-Qaeda or Iranian-backed rebels.

    $1 Billion Paid for Loose Bolts and Damaged Aircraft. It’s bad enough that federal contractors hired to perform routine maintenance work on Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) airplanes dodged their work hours and shirked important safety requirements. It’s even worse that they overcharged the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars for their “work” – and agency officials didn’t notice any of it.

    $700 Million for Afghan Gem Cutters. The Taskforce for Business and Stability Operations, formed in 2010, was supposed to reduce unemployment and fostering economic growth in Afghanistan. But management issues and lax oversight are hampering its effectiveness–leaving millions of tax dollars vulnerable to waste.

    Pentagon Didn’t Report $145 Million in Improper Payments. The Defense Department’s Inspector General estimated that had these claims been included in DoD’s report, the actual amount of improper payments would be closer to about $213 million, or $145 million higher than DoD’s estimate.

    Pentagon Scraps 16 Planes Worth $500 Million for Mere $32K. After spending nearly half a billion dollars on 20 planes to outfit the Afghan Air Force, the Defense Department turned around and scrapped 16 of the aircraft for 6 cents on the pound—just $32,000, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has learned.

    $900 Million More in Outrageous Military Spending. In the latest blow to the program, the Government Accountability Office released a scathing review of newly built ships that just joined the fleet—ships that together cost nearly $900 million more than originally estimated.


    8.5 TRILLION unaccounted for. With waste, fraud and deliberately mal-aligned priorities like this, it is no wonder ‘progress’ is what it is. Stalled. Or even reversing perhaps. ‘Collapse’ if you prefer.

    That 60 million will likely buy a few new Audi’s for its research staff, and some new tweed jackets. That’s about it though.

  5. Go Speed Racer on Tue, 27th Mar 2018 11:34 pm 

    For a clean eternally renewable power source,
    Just fund me to bulldoze a vacant lot and
    put in a big rock lined pit, we will have a
    garbage fire big enough to see from outer space.

    Garbage is an inexhaustible 100% renewable
    resource, we can never run out of it.
    Especially with Trump in office. He is so full of garbage.

  6. Davy on Wed, 28th Mar 2018 6:23 am 

    Here is something for the cornucopian. I see several breakthroughs that are killing us too but they don’t mention the flip side here. Notice to the right all the lame future advancements. This is very telling of diminishing returns to technology and complexity.
    “The 50 Most Important Life-Saving Breakthroughs in History”

  7. Anonymous on Wed, 28th Mar 2018 7:26 am 

    Waste of money. Massive international mess of coordination also. Costs three times as much because of combining different countries.

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