The contract has been signed that will lead to the production of the biggest component in the ITER fusion reactor.

ITERThe contract has been signed that will lead to the production of the biggest component in the ITER fusion reactor. 

The multi-billion-euro facility being built in France will attempt to harvest energy by exploiting the same nuclear processes that power the Sun.

AMW, an Italian consortium, will construct most of the doughnut-shaped vessel at the centre of the reactor.

Iter is not expected to begin operations until much later this decade.

Even then, these will be shake-down tests; full fusion power will not be achieved until the 2020s.

In a fusion reaction, energy is released when light atomic nuclei – the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium – are fused together to form heavier atomic nuclei.

To use controlled fusion reactions on Earth as an energy source, it is necessary to heat these gases to temperatures exceeding 100 million Celsius – many times hotter than the centre of the Sun.

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Source: BBC News
Photo: BBC News (The steel vessel will eventually weigh some 5,000 tonnes. The Iter reactor facility due to be constructed is shaped like a doughnut – a Russian-conceived design referred to as a tokamak.)