ITER Working Toward Revised Science Operations Strategy
ITER, the international fusion facility being built in France, detailed revised plans for its construction and operations last week that were recently endorsed by the project’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee.
The new plans aim to smooth the facility’s licensing, increase its relevance for designing electricity-producing fusion reactors, and minimize the impact of delays stemming from the discovery of flaws in critical components.
A baseline schedule established in 2016 projected ITER would achieve its “first plasma” milestone in 2025 and advance to “deuterium-tritium operations” in 2035, which would involve experiments actually generating more power than they consume. However, it has become clear that ITER will miss the 2025 target by years, though project leaders do not anticipate officially updating their schedule and cost estimates until later next year.
Without specifying a timetable, ITER stated the revised plans envision three phases of operation and that the project will, during its second phase, meet its goal of demonstrating power production that is 10 times the power applied.
In its announcement, ITER also affirmed it is redesigning the plasma-facing wall of its reactor to be made out of tungsten rather than beryllium , a highly toxic metal.