Indian scientists at nuclear research facility in France, part of ‘second biggest scientific adventure’
It is the “second-biggest scientific adventure ever” and India is one of the few countries that have lead role in it.
At a 180-hectare site near the Cadarache nuclear research facility in France, scientists from India and some other countries are trying to find an answer to what is one of the biggest challenges for the future: finding a solution to the looming energy crisis by channelising the energy produced in a nuclear fusion reaction. Christened the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the experiment is still at a “very early stage”.
“It is a very long process. While ITER was conceptualised in 1985, actual work on the project began in 2007. Initially, the USA, European Union, Japan and Russia (then the USSR) were part of this unprecedented collaborative effort, which, in scale, is second only to the building of the space station. India, South Korea joined later,” says Dhiraj Bora, Deputy Director-General, ITER, who leads the 30-strong Indian contingent at the facility. About 400 scientists and engineers from the member-countries are currently working on the ambitious project.
Officials at ITER said the initial budget — just for the construction of the ITER — is 13 billion euros and it will take at least 10 years for construction to be completed.
While conventional nuclear reactors that are in operation now use fission reaction to produce energy, the scientific community is still to find a way to produce and channelise, in sufficient quantity, energy through fusion reaction. More importantly, unlike nuclear reactors that work on fission reaction, which is accident-prone — like the tragedy at Fukushima (Japan) nuclear reactor — fusion carries no such risks and is also many times more fuel-efficient.
“ITER is a major step in the quest for fusion energy in which 500 mega watt (MW) power would be produced, about 10 times more than the input power of 50 MW. India’s involvement shows that the world accepts our technical ability and expertise.
It is a big honour for us,” says Bora, who was working at the Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar (Gujarat), when he was picked for the assignment.
Along with Bora, there are 13 other Indian scientists and engineers involved in building of the ITER while the rest are employed in non-technical areas.
“ITER, when it is successful, would be another giant leap for mankind. While it is being built mostly through in-kind contributions by the seven partners, which means that each partner-country will build its share of ITER component and deliver it to ITER for final assembly. India has been given the job of providing the 26 metre-tall cryostat, which will form the outer vacuum envelope for ITER. It will also design and fabricate eight 2.5 mega watt ion cyclotron heating sources, complete with power systems and controls as well as cryo-distribution and water cooling subsystems,’” said an ITER official.
30-member Indian team part of ‘second biggest scientific adventure’ - Indian Express