|April 30, 2009|
A Clean Energy Machine That Works Like the Sun
|New York Times - WHAT could be the world’s most expensive clean energy project is under way in a quiet corner of southern France. |
China, the United States, Japan and the European Union have committed billions of dollars to construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER, in a heavily forested corner of Provence called Cadarache that is a center for atomic research.
The goal is to prove that energy can be generated through nuclear fusion - a process akin to how light and heat are produced by the sun. The promise is virtually unlimited amounts of energy from abundantly available sources.
Fusion creates no greenhouse gases and produces far less hazardous waste than fission, the current nuclear process, although fusion reactors do become radioactive and waste would still require special disposal.
If successful, the concept is not expected to be commercially viable until midcentury. There has already been a two-year delay because of difficulties setting up an international organization for the project.
Rising costs for equipment could further complicate relations among the participants, which include South Korea, India and Russia.
Even so, scientists say an international approach is critical.The New York Times By JAMES KANTER