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China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States have each agreed to cover 9.1% of ITER construction (nine-tenths of this contribution will be supplied in kind to ITER, and only one-tenth in cash). Europe, host to the ITER Project, participates at the level of 45%, including a share of ITER components and systems as well as nearly all the buildings of the scientific facility. For its greater investment, Europe also reaps the lion's share of economic benefits (EUR 4 billion in contracts have been awarded for ITER on European territory since 2007).How much does ITER cost?
Whether you're manufacturing a T-shirt or an ITER blanket module, fabrication costs vary widely from one country to the next.
In a similar manner, the evolution of Member currencies as well as labour and material costs over the ten years of ITER construction can fluctuate dramatically.
The ITER Unit of Account (IUA) is an in-house currency that was created as part of the ITER Agreement to provide a stable base over time and to equitably allocate the value of in-kind procurement to each Member. It's in IUA, or more exactly, thousands of IUA (kUIA), that the ITER Organization assigns value to each one of the Procurement Arrangements signed with the Domestic Agencies.
Does that help us to know how much it will cost to build ITER? The European Union has estimated its global contribution to the costs of ITER construction at EUR 6.6 billion. The value of other Member contributions depends on the cost of industrial fabrication at home, which can be higher or lower, and the percentage contribution to ITER construction.
Based on the European evaluation, we can estimate the cost of ITER construction for the seven Members at approximately EUR 13 billion (if all the manufacturing was done in Europe). This cost will be shared over ten years by the 35 countries that make up the ITER Members (who, together, represent 80% of the planet's gross domestic product).
As one element of comparison, Qatar is investing EUR 150 billion in infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.
Outside of a short experimental campaign in 2003, when small amounts of tritium were added to deuterium plasmas, it has been 17 years since the last D-T fusion experiments were carried out at JET—17 years since a small, artificial star was briefly created on Earth.The best combinations
Fusion reactions, obtained through the pairing of different isotopes of light elements, liberate on average four to five million times more energy than the most powerful chemical reaction such as the burning of coal, oil or gas. In the present state of fusion technology, the most efficient pairing is the reaction between two "heavy" isotopes of hydrogen—deuterium (D) and tritium (T).
D-T fusion, which is the reaction chosen for ITER and the first-generation fusion reactors, presents a certain number of challenges: tritium is radioactive and the impact of the high-energy neutrons produced by the fusion reaction will activate the internal components of the machine.
Other combinations of elements are conceivable with non-radioactive elements that produce no (or practically no) neutrons: it's the case of the helium isotope helium-3, for example, which can fuse with other helium-3 nuclei or with deuterium. Technically impossible to achieve today due to the extreme temperatures necessary for its realization, helium-3 fusion also presents another major disadvantage—the nearest deposits are captured within Moon rock.
The most 'ideal' reaction—which may be the source of power for the fusion reactors in the centuries to come—is proton-boron fusion. Completely aneutronic, this fusion reaction is the Holy Grail of researchers. Among its technical challenges: temperatures on the order of 6.5 billion degrees Celsius and a method of confinement that has not yet been invented ...