With ITER Organization courtesy

ITER ("The Way" in Latin) is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world today. In southern France, 35 nations are 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 and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers our Sun and stars. ITER will be the first fusion device to produce net energy and to test the integrated technologies, materials and physics regimes necessary for the commercial production of fusion-based electricity. The ITER scientific facility is under construction now in southern France. On a cleared 42-hectare site, building has been underway since 2010. The ground support structure and the seismic foundations of the ITER tokamak are in place and work has begun on the tokamak complex - a suite of three buildings that will house the fusion experiments. Work is also beginning on auxiliary plant buildings such as the ITER cryoplant, the control building, and facilities for cooling water, power conversion and power supply. As soon as access to the tokamak building is possible, scientists and engineers will progressively assemble, integrate and test the ITER fusion device. Commissioning will ensue to verify that all systems function together and to prepare the ITER machine for operation. The successful integration and assembly of over one million components (ten million parts), built in the ITER Members' factories around the world and delivered to the ITER site constitutes a tremendous logistics and engineering challenge. The assembly workforce, both at ITER and in the Domestic Agencies, will reach 2,000 people at the height of assembly activities.

The ITER Project is a globe-spanning collaboration of 35 nations. As signatories to the ITER Agreement, concluded in 2006, the seven Members, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States, will share of the cost of project construction, operation and decommissioning. They'll also share the experimental results and any intellectual property generated by the operation phase.

Europe is responsible for the largest portion of construction costs; the remainder is shared equally by China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the US. The Members deliver very little monetary contribution to the project: instead, 80% of contributions will be delivered to the ITER Organization in the form of completed components, systems or buildings.

For more information:

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, future fusion power plants will use this heat to produce steam and then electricity by way of turbines and generators. The heart of a tokamak is its doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber. Inside, under the influence of extreme heat and pressure, gaseous hydrogen fuel becomes plasma in which hydrogen atoms can be brought to fuse and yield energy. The charged particles of the plasma can be shaped and controlled by the massive magnetic coils placed around the vessel; physicists use this important property to confine the hot plasma away from the vessel walls. The term "tokamak" comes to us from a Russian acronym that stands for "toroidal chamber with magnetic coils." First developed by Soviet research in the late 1960s, the tokamak has been adopted around the world as the most promising configuration of magnetic fusion device. ITER will be the world's largest tokamak- twice the size of the largest machine currently in operation, with ten times the plasma chamber volume.