Particle physics experiments

First experiences most likely in 2031

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By Steven B. Krivit
October 26, 2021

In ten years, the ITER schedule has fallen ten years behind.

Bernard Bigot, the director general of the ITER organization, will provide official notice of another construction delay to its governing body, the ITER Council, at its November meeting, according to several sources who spoke with The times of new energies.

But the schedule for the ITER project is further behind than what the organization will disclose publicly – even to the ITER Council, said an ITER organization staff member. The times of new energies. The employee requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the organization.

When construction of ITER, the international thermonuclear experimental reactor, is completed, experiments with test fuels – hydrogen and deuterium – are expected to begin. This step is known as the “first plasma”. These test experiments are expected to last for seven years, until scientists feel confident enough to add radioactive tritium to the fuel mixture.

After two years of experiments with deuterium-tritium fuel, the team hopes to increase the input power and reach the maximum power gain rating of the reactor.

According to the source, three potential dates for the first plasma appear in the internal documents of the ITER organization, accompanied by the following annotations:

2027: not realistic, not achievable
2029: Realistic, Optimistic
2031: Realistic, Achievable

The times of new energies is therefore adjusting our provisional schedule again (according to ITER staff, not management).

Planned date of the first ITER plasma

Evasive response

In 2006, the first plasma was scheduled for 2016. In 2012, it was postponed to 2020. In 2014, Nature Journalist Elizabeth Gibney spoke to Osamu Motojima, the former chief executive, about the schedule. Gibney had heard rumors that people were talking openly about 2022 or 2023.

She asked Motojima for a realistic new date for the first plasma. He gave an evasive answer. She again asked and mentioned the dates 2022 and 2023.

“There are a lot of rumors,” Motojima said. “I have the target date, but I have to demonstrate that we can do it with high enough probability. It will be around 2022 or 2023, and I will report to the ITER board next June. If the date is 2025, the project will never survive.

The project survived, but Motojima’s nomination did not. On March 5, 2015, the ITER Council replaced him with Bigot. When Bigot spoke to Agence France-Presse two months later, he told the news agency that each year of delay adds 200 million euros to the cost.

Bernard Bigot (on the podium) and Laban Coblentz (seated) during the 2020 media event

Bernard Bigot (on the podium) and Laban Coblentz (seated) during the 2020 media event

Date deviation

Later in 2015, Science Journalist Daniel Clery learned that the official dates for the first plasma were “widely recognized as 2025” by everyone except the ITER administration. Clery wrote that the official calendar had been “largely discredited” at that time.

False claims of power

Clery, however, like everyone else, was misled by ITER management and its fusion promoters into believing that the ITER reactor was designed to “produce 500 megawatts of power from an input of 50. megawatts ”. If this were the case, the ITER reactor would be on the way to producing a tenfold gain in power.

In reality, the value of 50 MW only applies to the heat output injected and used to heat the fuel. In reality, the reactor will need at least 500 megawatts to start up, and it will need between 300 and 400 megawatts continuously. (To see the The times of new energies ITER Power Research and Analysis here.)

The scientific objective of the project has nothing to do with the gain in power of the reactor. The gain applies only to the power gain of the physical reactions. Thus, if the ITER reactor achieves its scientific objective, it will produce zero net reactor power and demonstrate zero reactor power gain.

But the proponents of the merger rarely disclosed this distinction when speaking to the public – or their own representatives. In 2008, when the leadership of the ITER organization told Neil Calder, the organization’s first spokesperson, that he should tell reporters that the reactor would only need 50 MW of power to generate 500 MW of power, ITER management misinformed him.

False and misleading 2008 statement by Neil Calder, former ITER public communications manager (Source)

False and misleading 2008 statement by Neil Calder, former ITER public communications manager (Source)

“That’s what everyone was saying, that was it, that was the purpose of ITER,” Calder said. The times of new energies. “I spoke to everyone in senior management at the time, and there was no inconsistency, as far as I can remember, in any area.”

When the ITER organization claimed for many years on its website that the reactor was “designed to produce 500 MW of output power from 50 MW of input power” – without explaining that the value of 50 MW s ‘applied only to the heating power injected, without explaining that the value of 50 MW did not include the majority of the input power that the reactor will need – its management misinformed everyone.

False statements made by the ITER Organization, as posted on its website, on October 5, 2017 (Click here to see the correction from the ITER Organization shortly after October 5, 2017)

False statements made by the ITER Organization, as posted on its website, on October 5, 2017 (Click here to see the correction from the ITER Organization shortly after October 5, 2017)

When the ITER organization claimed in a 2017 press release that the net zero power reactor was supposed to “prove that fusion energy can be produced on a commercial scale”, its management again misinformed everyone .

When the ITER organization claimed in a 2020 press release that if the net zero power reactor were connected to the electricity grid, its thermal output of 500 megawatts “would translate into around 200 megawatts of electrical power,” its leadership again misinformed everyone.

The proponents of ITER and fusion have misinformed everyone for decades: using the same formula of amalgamating fusion reaction power values ​​with fusion reactor power values, underestimating power which ITER will need to produce thermal power of 500 MW, and failing to disclose that the input value of 50 MW omits the majority of the power required for ITER. They used the same false claims when they told everyone about the JET reactor result, claiming that the reactor produced 16 MW of thermal power “from a total input power of 24 MW” instead. of 700 MW.

False statements made by the ITER Organization, as posted on its website, before October 6, 2017 (Click here to view the ITER Organization's correction shortly after October 5, 2017)

False statements made by the ITER Organization, as posted on its website, before October 6, 2017 (Click here to view the ITER Organization’s correction shortly after October 5, 2017)

The primary measurable goal of the ITER reactor has nothing to do with proving that fusion energy can be produced on a commercial scale, contrary to the assertions of Laban Coblentz, the current ITER spokesperson, in the 2017 release. This has nothing to do with the theoretical rate of power generation the reactor could produce, contrary to what Coblentz said in the 2020 press release.

Coblentz knew this five years ago. He said The times of new energies on December 22, 2016, that the main measurable objective of the reactor is to produce “approximately 10 times more power out of the plasma than it goes into the plasma”, rather than a gain in power for the whole reactor.

The film

ITER is an experimental zero-power fusion reactor concept dishonestly promoted as a 500 megawatt reactor. This April 2021 documentary film tells the story:


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