Photo Pierre Genevier-Tarel - ITER Organization

The world’s biggest nuclear fusion project, ITER, has entered its five-year assembly phase in France.

The machine assembly phase symbolically kicked off with President Macron of France and dignitaries from the seven ITER Members acknowledging the importance of the moment. They reaffirmed their confidence in ITER’s success and congratulated the “One ITER team” for the remarkable progress accomplished in exceptionally challenging times.

Read more about the ITER project

Organized in the ITER Assembly Hall, the kick-off ceremony was virtually hosted by President Macron. Says Macron: ”ITER is clearly an act of confidence in the future. At its core is the conviction that science can truly make tomorrow better than today.”

Due to the current pandemic, the crowd in the ITER Assembly Hall was small. But thanks to live broadcasting and video connection the audience was global.

ITER is a project consisting of 35 nations collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale, commercial and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers our Sun and stars.

The tokamak is an experimental machine designed to harness the energy of fusion. Inside a tokamak, the energy produced through the fusion of atoms is absorbed as heat in the walls of the vessel. Just like a conventional power plant, a fusion power plant will use this heat to produce steam and then electricity by way of turbines and generators.

After the lengthy assembly phase, the facility will be able to start generating the super-hot “plasma” required for fusion power. The facility could see first plasma generated as early as end of 2025.

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Before this week’s landmark, ITER partners and contractors around the world have already spent years ramping up to assembly, from beginning to make the millions of parts to assembling and installing the reactor’s base earlier this year.

The £18.2 billion ($23.5 billion) facility has been under construction in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, southern France.

The ceremony was live streamed and a recording is available for viewing: