This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
France to Host International Fusion Research Reactor
An international project to build an experimental fusion reactor took a critical step on June 28th, as the project participants chose a site in Cadarache, France, for the project. Called ITER, the fusion reactor is meant to be the mid-way step between research experiments and the first commercial fusion reactor. ITER will use a reactor design called a tokomak, in which magnetic fields contain a hot plasma that re-creates conditions within the sun. The $5-billion facility will be capable of producing 500 megawatts of thermal energy from fusion power for periods of at least 400 seconds. ITER is designed to maintain a controlled plasma in which fusion is occurring ("a controlled burn") and may even be able to achieve a self-sustaining fusion reaction, referred to as "ignition." See the ITER and "ITER at Cadarache" Web sites.
ITER is an international project involving the United States (represented by DOE), The People's Republic of China, the European Union (represented by Euratom), Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the Russian Federation. It is technically ready to start construction, and the first plasma operation is expected in 2016. According to DOE, the United States supports the decision to locate ITER in France and looks forward to getting ITER construction underway there as soon as practical. The United States had previously supported an alternate site in Japan on technical grounds. See the June 28th joint declaration on ITER and the DOE press release.