Talk:ITER/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2

Copyright issues

I've removed large parts of this article that appear to have copyright problems -- i.e., were copy-pasted from other websites -- and moved them here. Someone might want to summarize the important details to add back into the main article. -Ergative 05:23, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)

(Source: [1]) ITER seeks to generate self-sustained, magnetically-confined fusion reactions ("burning plasma") for significant periods of time. This step is critical to the development of fusion as a viable energy source. Recent scientific developments have advanced knowledge of this field to the point that many scientists now believe ITER can demonstrate the feasibility of this technology as part of an ongoing effort to develop a practical energy-generating device. If successful, ITER would create the first fusion device capable of producing thermal energy comparable to the output of a power plant.

(Source: [2]) ITER plans to test many of the features needed for a commercial power plant - high-temperature-tolerant components, large-scale reliable superconducting magnets, fuel-breeding blankets using high temperature coolants suitable for efficient electricity generation, and safe remote handling and disposal of all irradiated components. ITER's operating conditions are close to those that will be experienced in a power reactor, and would hopefully show how they can be optimised, and how hardware design margins can be reduced to control cost.

I've put some of it back, as I wrote it :) Dan100 11:57, Dec 27, 2004 (UTC)

Regarding the notion of fusion as some perpetuum mobile

No, fusion will never be some "perpeetum mobile" and it doesn't have to be, even though many (I would say most except for the scientists) people tend to think otherwise (because a wrong picture of the surrounding world). It´s impossible to get more out of an isolated system than you put in, otherwise physics as we now it would have to be redefined. The energy that fusion gives in nuclear energy is always there (thanks to Einstein:-) E=mc^2. Think of the energy as the chemical energy in a chocolate bar, the energy is there, although not immediately available to us (someone ever tried to recharge your mobile phone by sticking the adapter into a milk chocolate bar? ;-) Don´t mix fusion with some pseudoscience!!!

External link: -Fusion as some perpetuum mobile (pl) [3]

-- 09:29, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

'Following on from JET'

ITER is following on from JET in the sense that ITER was first planned by JET personnel as the 'Next Step', most of the designers previously worked on JET, and most of the R&D is done on JET. Dan100 23:38, Jan 6, 2005 (UTC)

No. It is a different story. "Next Step" was designed by the group called "NET", or Next European Torus, and this was the "European" project. US and Japan also has their own fusion experimental reactor programs and these were consolidated as the ITER Program. This is why I am talking that the ITER is "successing the current largest plasma devices such as TFTR, JET and JT-60". Of course, some of NET people joined the ITER program, but US and Japanese people joined also. I think 'Following on from JET' does not reflect the actual history of the ITER.--Corruptresearcher 05:45, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Other countries basically joined the EURATOM NET program, leading to the international ITER program. Most of the basic design work was done by the researchers who built JET (I should add that I was one). Scientists from other teams around the world joined the program to contribute, building upon research conducted with their own machines. As it stands now, the sole purpose of EFDA-JET is to support R&D for ITER. Dan100 13:32, Jan 19, 2005 (UTC)

At first, the latest version edited by you is acceptable also for me. Thank you. Of course I know the JET is contributing the ITER significantly as the JT-60 is doing. Please remember, the researchers from other contries than EU are afraid that the Europeans treat this international project as the domestic program of EU if Cadarache is selected as the site. The original expression may support this concern. Please be sensitive on this issue. Thank you again. --Corruptresearcher 13:09, 20 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Location, location, location

Okay, yesterday we have someone saying the ITER was sited in France and they cite a pretty-authoritative-sounding article from the Asahi Shimbun to back it up.

Today, somebody reverts this without citation.

Which is the truth? Has an ITER siting decision been made or not?

It will be located in Cadarache, France. See the French governments ITER website for details.

Atlant 11:26, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

As I wrote in the article, the decision has not been made yet. Please see this. --Corruptresearcher 12:46, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

How does it work?

There is nothing in this article about the design of the reactor. We give specific information about how much power it is supposed to generate, but nothing about what type fusion reactor it is.

ITER is standard magnetic-confinement ("Tokomac") fusion; please feel free to be bold and add this information as you feel appropriate. The ITER website is certainly a useful resource if you need more data.
Atlant 12:12, 9 Jun 2005 (UTC)
It does need some work, doesn't it? I think I'll take this on. Gulp. Dan100 (Talk) 21:51, Jun 16, 2005 (UTC)
i've added masses of scientific theory, and displaced most of the awful politics to the sideline. after all, this is not an experiment in how to annoy pretty much every government in the world. mastodon 17:36, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

I don't know; I found the political side intriging too. I mean, it's part of the process, and even if it's not pretty, it shouldn't be mufled away. It teaches us as much about international scientific projects as the purely science of it.

Environmental concerns

I'd like to see a short discussion of the environmental concerns. Currently, there is an external link to a press release by Green Peace, which simply states that "Nuclear fusion has all the problems of nuclear power, including producing nuclear waste and the risks of a nuclear accident." The article Fusion power discusses some of the issues.--Malcohol 28 June 2005 13:19 (UTC)

It would be better if either some of it (from both sides) or none at all was integrated into the ITER article. The Greenpeace statement seems more like antifusion propaganda to me. There are no risk calculations at all, just a loose statement by someone who probably doesn't know very much about the reactor. Haven't the people who actually designed the thing made a statement? --
I'd have expected this to be somewhere under Tokamak or magnetic confinement fusion. The D-T fusion process produces very large numbers of neutrons, which means the reactor requires as much shielding as a fission reactor, and like a fission reactor will activate (make radioactive) and degrade its structural materials. The difference is that a fusion reactor doesn't produce strongly radioactive spent fuel as a byproduct (fusion products are non-radioactive helium isotopes), so you don't have the high-level waste problem of fission plants. Fusion reactors also have no potential for meltdown (though modern fission reactors don't either - the most you'd get is a steam explosion for any of the water-moderated designs, which is one of the reasons you have a big concrete dome around the reactor core). The flip side is that Greenpeace has a point in that the less informed of the fusion proponents seem to be under the impression that it produces _no_ radioactive waste (where in fact you'll have quite a bit of low-level waste to deal with in the form of activated structural materials, which get swapped out over the maintenance cycle of the reactor). Using D+D or D+3He fusion reduces, but doesn't eliminate, the neutron problem, and gives you a much more expensive reactor per unit power generated. People have proposed things like p+11B to run reactors, but you'll still get a small amount of neutron production from unwanted side reactions and gamma-induced spallation, and the Lawson criterion for p+11B is high enough that any such reactor would be absurdly expensive compared to a D+T or even D+D reactor.--Christopher Thomas 28 June 2005 16:08 (UTC)
Just a little follow up on that last statement there - other, high beta magnetic confinement designs, such as FRC's or spheromaks, or possibly inertial confinement approaches, might be substantially more amenable to advanced fuels than tokamaks. While these aren't designs for ITER, the scientific questions it answers will help scientists across the broad spectrum of fusion research. 00:12, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

Good points, but Greenpeace is clearly not trying to make a point anything as sophisticated as Christopher Thomas's here. I think they are of a more diffuse, almost religious nuclear=bad mind. I would have thought Greenpaeceniks discredited themselves a long time ago, with their progaganda logo's painted on their, paradoxically, very environmentally unfriendly 2CV cars.

Nuclear Fusion Scam!

The Greatgrandchildren of the Scientists who built the first Fusion Reactor in the late 1940's are now scamming many nations out of Billions of cash! Fusion like this will never work! This is a huge waste of money and bad science as well. They will build it and it will never make anything except pad the bank accounts of these Scientist con-men! No useful commericial reactor will ever come into existence and save us from Global Warming. We are far better off with Fission. I accuse these Scientists of fraud.

Supercool Dude 28 June 2005 14:24 (UTC)

I bet you will swallow these words in good time. Science has the hability to do that to people who says the word never too often. -- 28 June 2005 16:08 (UTC)

With all due respect to both of you, both arguments would be more convincing if you cited actual data to back them up. In the case of fusion reactors, there's a history of overly-optimistic predictions of when a commercially viable reactor will be available ("10 years away for the last 50 years" is a famous quote), but there's easily measured progress in the development of magnetic confinement fusion reactors, as well (measure how close each one is to achieving power breakeven). There's every reason to believe that ITER will achieve its goals of surpassing power breakeven by a factor of 5 to 10 - the real question is whether or not a power-producing reactor can be produced cheaply enough to be economically viable compared to other forms of power generation. This is one of the questions ITER (and DEMO) are intended to help answer. --Christopher Thomas 28 June 2005 16:32 (UTC)

I like to add that you can't condemn fusion progress by the unrealistic exclamations from a past generation. When you are so far away from a working model as they were in the 60's its virtually impossible to draw conclusions concerning future developments. Lets judge fusion progress and research by its measurable merits. And the question is not wether or not a power-producing reactor can be produced cheaply enough to be economically viable but when this will happen. Albester 14:53, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
This reference on fusion power plant design could help: ClaudeSB 15:07, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Controlling the plasma is bloody hard. Computers and decades of tinkering have improved plasma control significantly, but there are ways to go yet. The fact is JT-60 in Japan has already achieved Q > 1 several years ago (i.e. it produced more energy than got put into it to begin with). The higher the Q, the more efficiently will the tokamak produce power. I think we will finally see a fusion power plant producing net electricity this century. Quasarstrider 30 June 2005 01:47 (UTC)

If I am not completely mistaken JT-60 didn't actually produce any energy in that test run since it was run with a pure Deuterium plasma without any Tritium, it did however manage to attain the density, temperature and confinement necessary to achieve breakeven in a D-T plasma. So whereas technically breakeven was not attained, the conditions necessary for it was. It is just that tritium is a bit expensive, and actually running the reactor with it would have turned it radioactive and complicated future work. Maybe a more appropriate description would be to say that break even conditions were attained. 22:55, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

It all makes perfect sense, expressed in dollars and cents, pounds, schilling, and pence

On the main page the figure of €10 billion is used. In the article, it simply says at one point "12 billion dollars" then later is says US$10 billion. So which currency is it? I realize that it'll run over budget and such, but some consistency should be maintained. Dismas 29 June 2005 03:30 (UTC)

I think I fixed all the currency figures except the one quoted here: "Conceptual and engineering design phases led to an acceptable detailed design in 2001, underpinned by $650 million worth of research and development by the "ITER Parties" to establish its practical feasibility." I don't know where that figure came from or what currency it's supposed to actually be, US$ or . Dismas

I may be one of the few to say this but with such a large amount of money being said, its hard to get a scale for what this really means (as in the % of the USA GNP or compared with other non science projects). --deven

The 'cost' of the reactor is always thrown around in media because this is a very very expensive project. The reactor will have a lifetime of a couple decades, and the cited costs incompasses all the little mistakes that will happen along the way. This makes the estimates inaccurate. Furthermore, the reactor has be in planning for a couple of decades, so inflation has also changed the cost estimates even though the design has gone unchanged. --Cedric Tsui 21:29, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Power / Contradiction

Here is a quote from the Power section:

ITER will use a hydrogen plasma torus operating at over 100 million degrees Celsius. It is designed to produce approximately 500 MW (500 million watt) of fusion power sustained for up to 500 seconds (compared to JET's peak of 16 MW for less than a second). ITER will not generate electrical power.

I don't quite understand the last mart, that it will not generate electrical power. The first part says it will generate 500 MW of power then it says it will not, which is it? Perhaps it means that it will not be a commercial reactor? --ShaunMacPherson 30 June 2005 11:42 (UTC)

It will generate 500 MW of fusion power, released mostly in the form of neutrons that heat up the blanket. The blanket of a commercial reactor would be run at a high temperature, allowing the use of this heat to generate steam to run turbines to make electricity. In ITER, the temperature of the blanket will be too low for that, and the cooling water will just be dumped. Art Carlson 2005 June 30 13:19 (UTC)

  • It means the energy will not be used for commercial purposes, it generates power but it will not be used to run electrical appliances on a grid being that it's a test, the next project, DEMO will be hooked up to a local grid for practical use. Sqkvii 30 June 2005 21:42 (UTC)

I believe the gentleman has assumed that "power" means "electric power". The 500 MW of "fusion power" referred to here simply means energy released per unit time (MJ/s). This energy (heat) *could* be used to generate electric power, but no such generator will be included in ITER. (mark vandersluis)Vandersluism 23:32, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

As it is a project being run in France, albeit an international joint venture. Expected figures should really be given in euros, with conversion in brackets to say US dollars if desired (although this introduces the issue of periodic updating due to exchange rate fluctuations). Canderra 14:25, 13 May 2006 (UTC)


We might need to help a few readers on the topic of "How to pronounce Iter". I heard an assistant secretary of the US government say: 'Eye-ter'. But I think it is more likely to be 'Ee-ter', like 'iteration'. Does anybody know what's correct and how to add the pronunciation description to the intro section? Awolf002 5 July 2005 17:54 (UTC)

"EE-ta", I believe... I have downloaded a nice little video about the JET reactor from the JET website ( The narration confidently pronounces it "EE-ta", and i have pronouced it as such ever since, its the pronounciation i prefer anyway :) ==Distantbody==
In Germany we say eater. I'm pretty sure that is the pronunciation in the international fusion community as well. Art Carlson 10:49, 2005 July 19 (UTC)

Found the answer on What is ITER, where it is explained that the name is pronounced similar to "fitter". Just need to add this to the article. Awolf002 18:37, 1 August 2005 (UTC)

'Criticism' NPOV

Need better wording or rework of this section to achieve NPOV. I tried a bit, but there could be done more, here. Awolf002 15:21, 18 July 2005 (UTC)

It is difficult for there to be a "Criticism" heading without it decending into a battlefield of for and against arguments. I think a solution would be to have a seperate heading "Commendation" solely as a means of expressing views and opinions of praise for the project, and thus leaving "Criticism" as just that, without anyone trying to debunk the views, as that can be done in the new section and visa-versa. Critiscism will never have a NPOV (nor would "Commendation"), the least we can do is seperate them, and let the readers make up there own opinion. I will do this in two days if no-one objects prior. User:Distantbody

It is my opinion that the criticism section is rather bad, and need to be rewritten. The actual critisms appear to be rather oversimplified and inaccurate mistranslations by hurried news reporters. People simply aren't going to be 'manipulating' the neutrons, were going to be absorbing, and containing them. 'Building a box' or 'creating a magnetic cage' are really bad analogies: there's simply nothing you can do to keep the gas in there permanently, you need to have fuel pumped in and ash pumped out for it to be steady state, or you have a pulsed system. It's really, much, much more like a furnace. Cold fuel goes in, gets heated, ignites, heats up more fuel and goes out as ash - ad nauseum.

The 'for' arguments are justified rather well in the article. The against arguments that are present, and well known by the public, are quite simply, lacking in any depth or understanding. Some people claimed 25 years ago that we'd have fusion by now. We do, in some sense, we had broken energetic breakeven in 1998, we just don't have a commercial power plant. We could, if we really wanted to, but we don't have enough knowledge to design something well, and so our efforts will be research oriented and exploratory until we have a better understanding. The statement of fact that our cities aren't powered by fusion yet while some optimists hoped they would be does not mean that we will never have commercial fusion, and the argument that it does is among the most widespread and vapid opinions I have had the misfortune of being exposed to.

The Greenpeace proposal for a windfarm is shortsighted, ill-concieved, poorly-planned, and altogether absurd. Their analysis, if you could call it that, is limited to a few quotes from various companies, and some arithmetic. I really hope nobody takes this seriously. One needs to distinguish between a milestone research project opening doors to entirely new methods of power creation, and short term solutions. It's entirely unclear that the windfarm is at all technically feasible, as well. With that many turbines, you're going to significantly dampen wind currents. None of the proposals explore this, because they're not seriously founded in reality.

There ARE decent arguments against tokamaks (or fusion reactors, in general). It is possible that the currently accepted environmental and health hazards of coal powerplants are exaggerated (I doubt this), or that better designs will be possible (probably, but only up to some limit). It is possible that D-T reactors could be used as a neutron source to create weapons-grade plutonium (although a fast breeder reactor would be substantially easier to produce by a rogue state). It is possible that only very large reactors would have the proper economies and physics of scale to be effective in powering our economies in the long run, thus requiring a centralized distribution network, which poses economic, technical, and political problems (this is much more of problem, but there are several projects looking to circumvent this. See the LDX, FRC, NCSX, MTF projects, looking at smaller, more efficent fusion concepts). Some people are on the lookout for fusion related technology that might spur weapons research, particularly related to H-bombs (see NIF). Some people are claiming that due to fusion research they'd be able to design a low-yield bomb with low residual radioactivity (which might then be used in war). This is probably true, though there are certainly going to be technical limitations, and you shouldn't be able to get around the existing treaties.

What we do know is that fusion is the only known high capacity, environmentally friendly energy source we could have, we have to achieve it, and we're going to achieve it. The question should be HOW it's going to be done, and WHEN, not IF. Danielfong 05:51, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

Well said. Greenpeace is (or at least was) divided on this issue. There was even talk of supporting fission because their perception of the threat of global warming was so high. Their opposition to ITER is more out of habit than conviction. I'm sure they'd like to see wind/wave/solar get some of that budget, but philosophically, it's probably the centralized control of generation they object to the most. Some info on the "LDX, FRC, NCSX, MTF projects" might help. Looking forward to your edits. --noösfractal 07:24, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

There is an error in the Response to Criticism section. ITER will in fact produce some long-lived radioactive waste, but the vast majority of the waste will be short lived. Of the 30 000 metric tons of waste resulting at the end of it's lifespan (comprising the neutron activated structure and the blanket wastes), over 80% will have decayed to safe levels after 100 years. The remaining waste of 6000 tonnes or less will contain the long-lived isotopes with half lives on the order of thousands of years. This low-level but long-lived waste will need long term storage. 22:09, 22 November 2005 (UTC)

As a lay person, it sounds like the "box" that de Gennes refers to is primarily metaphorical, perhaps an allusion to Pandora's box. Note also that the response to this criticism (which seems predicated on a literal interpretation of de Gennes comment) also gets more coverage than the criticism, even though there's a separate "Response to criticism" section for such responses. Perhaps some of noösfractal's quickly-dismissed criticisms should be moved to the article. 04:55, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

The "box" is a dumbed down way of saying "torus incasing". Yes, The counter-argument should be moved the following paragraph. --distantbody 04:55, 17 December 2005 (UTC)

I have a question Re the quote from the nobel prize winner Masatoshi Koshiba about 14 MeV neutrons. D-T fusion by definition produces a 14.1 MeV neutron and is recorded in the page Timeline of nuclear fusion as occurring as early as 1993. Are you telling me that in 13 years nobody ever thought to look at what was flying out of their fusion reactor at a couple thousand km/s? Even if nobody thought to look, just by practical experience the scientists operating the TFTR would know at least something about the effects of those neutrons on the materials the machine was made of. That, and the rest of the paragraph goes on to contradict the quote by explaining what will happen when these neutrons which we (apparently) already have experience dealing with will do.-- 10:50, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

I agree it's confusing. Also, surely as well as the TFTR, some existing and experimental fission reactors have had some experience dealing with quite high energy free neutrons. I fail to see the substantial difference from the effects nuclear fission has on its containment. I'm no nobel prize winner for physics though so I don't claim to have even the tiniest fraction of insight compared to Masatoshi Koshiba, but more clarification on this would be desirable. Canderra 15:23, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

I cleaned up some of the mess in the criticisms section. I moved the unattributed Koshiba quote here. As a physicists, it seems too unlikely. People have known of the 14MeV problem for a while (like since 1980) and experiments have been done, so I find it hard to believe a physics Nobel Laureate would say that. Anyhow, it needs a citation. Here it is: Masatoshi Koshiba, Japanese winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics expanded on the idea, stating that "Inside ITER, the fusion reaction produces high energy neutrons, of 14 MeV [...] Although scientists have already experienced the manipulation of low energy neutrons, these 14 MeV neutrons are totally new and at the present time, nobody knows how to manipulate them".[citation needed] [[User::gpkh|gpkh]] 16 November 2006

I have a small issue with the part that says Tritium would just escape to the upper atmosphere if released. While the gas itself is lighter then air, it is still highly flammable and the water vapor it forms wouldn't readily escape into the upper atmosphere.

ITER or Iter...?

Now that the name is now no longer an acronym, I believe we can now spell it as a name i.e. in lower case Y/N? (I personally prefer the capital letters though.) Distantbody

I think we need more evidence to back up the claim that it's not an acronym, especially since the reuters article linked to on the page still refers to it in all caps. It is possible for the name to have both meanings as a backronym in the same way that the DARE program does. AEuSoes1 02:04, August 1, 2005 (UTC)
I realize that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence", but there are no references of any kind to it being an acronym in current publications (meeting proceedings, press releases, FAQ, and such). You have to go way back to the 1990s—the very earliest stages of planning for it—to find references that still call it the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.[4] The fact that there's absolutely no mention of it currently suggests to me that the people involved really do not intend for it to be an acronym anymore, but the fact that it was historically an acronym should probably be mentioned. —HorsePunchKid 01:35, 3 August 2005 (UTC)

The official web page ITER seems to indicate it stands for "The Way" in Latin. But I also found International Tokamak Experimental Reactor on They might have changed from one to the other. Awolf002 18:33, 1 August 2005 (UTC)

Hmmm, well since it's still referred to in all caps and the letters can stand for something as in an acronym, I'd say it's probably an apronym. I'll indicate that in the article, but I'm curious as to whether it was intentionally fashioned to have the double meaning or not. If not, then indicating a change in meaning from an acronym to an apronym or latin word would be incorrect. AEuSoes1 22:34, August 2, 2005 (UTC)

The double meaning is by design, however the program is still ITER (all caps). For example, the International Standards Organization is called ISO by definition in every language to avoid the complexities of translation and acronyms of foreign names (eg. in French, ISO is the Organization International de Normalization - this would be OIN, but in France the organization is still called ISO). The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) .

During a tour of JET we were told that the name dropping of International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor was a PR move. Its hard to appeal to the public bad words like Experimental and Thermonuclear. Similar to how hospitals drop the nuclear out of their Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging.

Confusing paragraph in "Response to criticism" section

The current second paragraph contains these two sentences, which are very difficult to make sense of:

These estimates are based on detailed knowledge of what needs to be better known, and it would take an overly ambitious pessimistic estimate to overestimate the measured expert guess by fifty years. At the very least there should be some method to the estimate, which is evidently absent.

I would have attempted to fix them if I could figure out what they meant. Alas, I could not, so I simply raise the issue for others to try to deal with.

As far as I can tell, it's not saying anything. I think someone was just trying to sound smart.
Phædrus 06:30, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
AFAIK, the sentences were referring to the estimates of how far off we were from fusion power-plants. I think the 'overly ambitious pessimistic estimates' referred to the tendency of greenpeace to estimate fusion as being 70 or 100 or 200 years off, without any kind of justification. Danielfong 22:37, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Future energy..?

Someone needs to pay this some attention: Future_energy_development#Nuclear_power. It is short and uninformative, and the fusion section next to the fission part looks like a joke. I would do it myself, but I have an exam tomorrow. Toodles. mastodon 00:00, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

generic information

I put it to anyone to justify why the generic "how fusion works" information needs to be restated from the Fusion article. --distantbody 02:55, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

I guess we *could* start a flame war over it... but you know what they say about arguing on the internet...So I hope we can leave it at this:
Basically the issue is; A: does one add information for convenience of *some* readers who will read the whole article, saving said readers from a click to a linked article OR B: Keep information absolutely specific (i.e. not general information) so as to keep the article as lean as possible so as not to overwhelm readers with excess, meandering and diverging information because someone thought it would be a "good idea" to add context to the article?
Just to ram the message home, here is an example: If i were to read the article about how planet earth formed in the solar system, do I also need to read about the formation of the universe in the same article? Of course not, because a link to that information is far more appropriate, because those who *want* to read about that can follow the link. Those who dont shouldn't have to hunt for the information they want in a bloated article, or even worse, decide not to read at all because the article looks too long and too technical (although it is quite acceptable to have techical data *specific* to ITER in the article). If someone wants that technical information on the basic operation principles of nuclear tokomak fusion they can follow the relavant link, otherwise, lets not give them nightmares of math an physics classes.
Now, I hope we can move forward in making this article as accesible to everyone as it can be.
--distantbody 02:55, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

I have made the section much more ITER relivent. It is not to be removed. I hope you are not displeased. mastodon 00:00, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

Limitations of renewable energy stuff is wrong...

I dunno, but this bit doesn't smell right to me. Where I live, the solar radiation is about 20 megajoules a day. Assuming solar cells are about 12% efficient, and the average solar radiation is about this level, to generate the 14,850,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity (see world economy) the world uses annually would require about 61,000 square kilometres of land covered with solar panels. If that was in one area, that would represent an square patch of land about 250 kilometres on a side. That's a big area, but compared to the earth's total land area it's insignificant. So, assuming I've got my calculations correct, lack of land is not the limiting factor with solar cells, it's the fact that they cost way, way, way too much and you can't store the energy for when you want it. --Robert Merkel 07:32, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

It appears that you're right. I put too much faith (any at all) into the poster who put up that text in the first place. We should estimate the temperature shift required to produce our energy:

The electricity economy is, by those old estimates: 1.69521e12,

The temperature of the solar radiation is:

The area of earth is: 510,065,284.702

The cross-sectional area that earth presents to the sun is:

Hence the (self-consistent) estimate of the Earth's effective temperature is (ignoring electricity):


Subbing the electricity demand in

Net difference:

There is clearly more than enough thermal radiation to satisfy our needs. We should remove that section. Danielfong 09:44, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

  • I think I posted 120 W.m-2. Or at least moved it from somewhere. while i was working on that section i looked it up in wikipedia [5] [6] [7], trying to find a reference, but i found none. although several different articles said different things, they all said something around my value. I dont understand any of what that thing about shows, all i know is it in words.
sun shines about 174 PW power radiatly, and the earth, at its mean orbit radius, recieves a tiny amount of that. once the radiation reaches our magnetosphere, there are energy losses, as are there from cloud albedo and atmostpheric albedo. the amount of energy that reaches sea level is about 1000 W.m-2 (at 60° north). solar cells are 12%, therefore 120 W.m-2. where do our answers begin to differ?
oh, and did you take into account the spherical natural of the earth? not to patronise you but the earth isnt flat, so it is not ok to asume we cut sunlight flux lines at 90°. if you said that thats fine, i apologise for not speaking maths. mastodon 23:33, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
  • I accounted for the near-elliptical nature of the earth, the area of an ellipse, but the earth radiates from its entire surface area, so I used the surface area value given in the wikipedia page. The answers differ in many ways, first: the product of 120 W.m-2 with the surface area of earth is greatly in excess of the current electricity demands. I was wondering if there wasn't another thermodynamic limit: the issue is basically that you can't simply use all the solar radiation which falls on a particular spot as power. (IE: if the earth was in complete thermal equilibirum with the solar radiation, all sides of it would be heated the exact same amount and by the second law of thermodynamics you wouldn't be able to make an engine to generate electricity).
I checked the Stefan-Boltzmann law page which erroneously gives the equilibrium temperature of earth as the radiation temperature of the sun, but divides by for some reason. So instead I calculated the radiation temperature near the earth, and calculated approximately the equilibrium temperature of the earth using the correct values for area (given that the sun only shines on a cross-sectional area of the earth). The answers were remarkably close, however this proves that the radiation temperature is FAR hotter than the equilibrium temperature of the earth (and that we'd cook if the earth suddenly spun slower!).
Next I asked, if we converted part of this thermal energy into our electricity supply, part would be losses (thermal losses) and would not effect the next temperature of the earth, but part would be converted and would -lower- the next temperature of the earth. So I checked to see by how much it would lower the temperature of the earth. If it was at all significant, the claim that solar based energy could never power our needs might have some merit. But the answer is that it would lower the temperature of the earth by only 0.007K, which is less than a hundredth of a degree celcius. Not significant, therefore we can safely say that there aren't any such pressing theoretical limits to solar based power production. Danielfong 12:50, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Hmmm. I apologise profusly, but that went over my head. I shall have to take your word for it as you are too intelligent for my 17 year old mind to cope. Oh dear, I'm sure one day I shall catch up. Good day to you sir. mastodon 00:05, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Mastodon, don't worry about it. Simple calculations will do to show the essential point (that it's not a lack of space that limits the use of solar cell technology. --Robert Merkel 09:42, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

Umm. I may be missing something, but unless the first law of thermodynamics has been repealed, all electricity generated by any kind of solar power system will ultimately be transformed back into heat at the point of use. Surely the net effect on the temperature of the Earth is zero.

As long as some of the solar energy collected is used to do work, some of that solar energy is not heating the earth. Imagine if I used solar power to light a flashlight which I then pointed at the sky. The earth isn't a closed system, so that solar energy which would otherwise heat the earth instead is used to create light which flies off into space. True, that will probably at some point end up as IR at 3K or so, but not at the point of use. Canonymous 18:33, 12 September 2006 (UTC)
Pretty much all consumer energy dissipates at the point of use, apart from oddball applications such as strong lasers pointed at the moon. Meanwhile, the point about solar/wind/wave is that this

represents an input that would have dissipated as heat anyway, regardless of a (for us) useful intermediate stage.

The argument i recently heard not to build huge solar parcs was the to high cost of recycling the old solar cells . Actually i could care less with a 600b$ proposal for arms in irak , but i am pretty curious what all physicians here think would be the result of investing 10b in solar power research? why don't you mention earth warmth is another big ? How can you be so sure, whether there will be no leaks, i suppose the idea is to limit the fuel ultimately, is it true any leak that would still occur would be somewhat huge? Every known fusion plant had leaks and incidents.

Will the resulting heated water be radioactive, why don't you build a pump, desalification plant or heat-pump? Suppose its not meant to run a lot. Do you use ceramics for these blankets or plastics, water? So how many litres of water is a thing like that really going to use? You might want to try a closed system if you heat water(heat pump), somehow i think releasing sufficient heat for 50000 households will contribute to global warming. Isn't it the responsabilty of scientists to stop the gigantic spending on arms races, if they want to secure a future in fission technology ,isn't it perfect bullshit the second law of thermodynamics would prohibit producing energy when the earth was in temperature equilibrium. It would only be slightly more complex, or does he want to state iter(s) might stop working, similarly to fusion reactors when the climate warms  ?? 04:18, 23 November 2006 (UTC)


In 'Response to criticism', Marcoeconomically is used. Perhaps someone to me unknown economist but I would guess that it should be macroeconomically?

"...with a practically unlimited energy source, the business cycle would be much more stable, allowing more continuous job growth in sectors not even connected with the reactor itself." This statement needs supporting evidence.

Does it? This is the sort of thing that is both evident and provable. It is nearly impossible to imagine an economy that is on the whole -worse off- with cheap, clean, abundant energy, than with expensive, dirty energy. 'Evidence' isn't the sort of thing that can support this, it's common sense and economic theory. Danielfong 04:55, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

You are giving common sense arguments to support a very bold statement and common sense arguments, especially in economics, are something to avoid. Stable energy supply is just one exterior variable for that type of economy you are talking about. Control over that stable energy resource as well as other international relation issues are at least as important. And then there is the question "for who?" I don´t think clean energy would benefit the economy of, say, Norway or Iran. But even if what you state is true then it doesn´t correlate with the article. Compare "the business cycle would be much more stable, allowing more continuous job growth in sectors not even connected with the reactor itself" to "It is nearly impossible to imagine an economy that is on the whole -worse off- with cheap, clean, abundant energy, than with expensive, dirty energy.". Unless economical theory is cited I say it should be removed.

So noone have backed up the claim in a week? Two more days and I remove the claim. 11:33, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

The negation is an even more unsupportable statement. I said that it's common sense -and- economic theory. Is it possible to pose a model economy where a cheap, abundant, stable energy source is -less- productive than essentially the -same- economy with a more expensive, more sparse, fluctuating energy source? Under optimal play, no. A non-constructive proof: if it IS helpful, the energy abundant economy can be artificially made worse. That's the mathematical proof. Rock solid for what it is.
The world isn't run under optimal play though, and so you -need- to appeal to some model of the world which is somehow limited. This is what economists do. And the fact of the matter is that practically ever manner of industrial production in this world as it stands relies on energy, which costs society money, time, and labour. As cost decreases, more of the world is freed to pursue other types of production: not simply because the monetary cost of energy dropped but the -labour- required decreases. The doesn't even account for health benefits over burning fossil fuels, which should universally improve quality of life and net economic productivity.
These aren't just common sense statements. They're nearly unassailable. They're also pretty much correct. Economics is built on common sense statements. Rational self-interest and all that. That's how you model the world. If you're asking me to reference a paper, you're turning off your intellect and appealing to authority. Papers are written by people too, you know. But in case you're wondering, the mainstream economic paradigm is that resources are scarce. The most important economic reality facing our time is that energy is scarce. There are innumerable papers dealing with projected economic effects of peak oil. There are papers examining the effect of the economy of the world brought about by Oil scarcity in the 70's. Perhaps a glance at the wikipage here will do you good. This is an area of active research, but the consensus is that unless society is drastically altered, expensive, unstable energy supplies are not good for the economy. There are several disaster scenarios where the oil simply runs out. Agriculture would fail. Millions would die. This is why nearly all industrialized nations maintain an oil reserve.
Unless you have an actual issue with the correctness of the statment I say that the removal is wikipedianism gone berserk...
PS: The relevance of the statement is in opposition to the 'it won't create jobs', or 'it's drain on the economy' objection/criticism. Danielfong 05:39, 4 June 2006 (UTC)
I am sorry but you are wrong in claiming economy is build on common sense. Its build on science (just like fusion is). You just have to think on the theory of comparative advantage to see a theory that is regarded as a pillar in international liberal economics that is certainly NOT common sense. But yes I have "actual issues" with how the economical argument is used in the article:
1) The fact that a negation of a statement is untrue doesn´t make the original statement true in social science like economics (perhaps it is like that in high energy physics, I don´t know). In this case stability of the present plays a large role. The introduction of fusion would lead to shift in energy control and shifts in the control of resources are known to give instability. Unless you are sure that the energy will be distributed evenly among all who need it you are far from certain whatever economical stability you may reach (see next paragraph for that) won´t be rocked by political unstability internationally. I don´t claim fusion will lead to instability. I claim you can´t say anything about the issue with any degree of certainty.
2) Marx wrongly thought that when a certain level of material comfort was achieved then man would not strive towards more. That threshold has long passed without man seems to have satisfied his thirst for more. The needs of man seems to be decided relationally. Economy as a science of optimal distribution of sparse goods seems to hold for a long time yet. So what you may regard as virtually unlimited energy will show itself to be anything but that if we take the history of ecoomics as a guide. Human needs and wants adjust to whatever is possible and will likely absorb whatever benefit fusion gives. Distribution is a historic economical political question and the introducion of a new technology doesn´t in itself have any power over that process.
I don´t know if the collaborating countries have signed any declaration about sharing the scientific results of ITER among all peoples of the world or letting all non-participating countries link up to the electricity grids of fusion power plants for free. I suggest putting that in there in place of the original sentence if such a declaration exist.
I don´t really want to go into the discussion, mainly because its against the ethos of Wikipedia, but: My removal of the sentence in question is not "wikipedianism gone berserk". Its an evaluation of the validity of a claim made by someone with a background in the field. In this case economics. 18:29, 4 June 2006 (UTC)
1. Oh, yes? Based on science? And what is science based on, hmm? Hypothesis development and testing? Where do hypotheses come from? Sense. Economics isn't -solely- common sense, but the fundamental aspects of it have evolved from common sense perspectives. Further, comparative advantage makes a great deal of sense to me, in the sense that it is -based- on commonsense notions of advantage and trade, so I'm not sure what you're talking about (think parents getting kids to do chores). My principle objection is that you seem to be accusing the statement of being 'too common sense' to be factual. A logical fallacy. Under the mainstream economic paradigm you're going to have to argue very hard to convince anybody that scarcity in energy is an advantage.
2. The untruth of the statement's negation is certainly truth of the original statement in any field where logic is enshrined.
3. Fusion is and has been internationally declassified for a very long time. There are international treaties requiring research in the area to be in the public domain. It is a potential clean high-capacity sustainable source of energy. The null hypothesis should be that it spreads distribution of wealth, unless there are good reasons to think otherwise. Are there?
4. This is hugely more speculative than anything I've said, and seems to completely ignore the fact that it -is- possible to approximately measure human progress. Absorb whatever benefit fusion gives? Why could you have not said that same thing about -agriculture-? What about the health problems associated with poisoning the environment? What about global warming?
5. "introducion of a new technology doesn´t in itself have any power over that process." Err, what? Are you claiming that agriculture, the invention of the city, the invention of the automobile, the invention of the firearm, had no effect that could be a priori expected? Cheap clean energy has effects that are expected for -very- good reasons.
6. If it is not proper to give evidence and arguments in favor of fusion economically, why is it proper to accuse fusion of 'not giving jobs'? Or proper to talk about the economic effects of -anything-? You can't be certain about very much of anything: Hume wrapped that up ages ago. The fact remains that the is a certain level of agreed upon knowledge and theory, and one can't constantly launch off into the higher planes of skepticism with regards to any statment and expect to get anything written.
7. I guess the statement in the article isn't strictly the same as the allegation that the economy would be better off, but the point is that ITER will generate collateral benefits, and some statement to this effect SHOULD be made. Danielfong 19:20, 4 June 2006 (UTC)
1: The claim was backed up by common sense arguments, not common sense hyphotesis tested against evidence.
Backed up by logically consistent and sensible arguments.
The legitimacy of that claim is what we are discussing here ;-)
2: What may be right in logic may not hold in social sciences. In logic you can isolate all other factors. You can´t do that in social science. In this case: Reduced amount of energy affects the economy negative (unemplyment) like during the oil crisis. But much more available energy doesn´t necessarily affects the economy positive because you have to take into account both the political effects of different distribution of goods (in this case energy) gives and the fact that mans reaction to surplus of a good can´t be said to be "opposite" to the reaction to a shortage of goods. He will react differently, not "opposite". On top of that you have to take into account sociological effects. If Durkheim is right fusion is gonna lead to mass suicide (no, I am not 100% serious, even IF Durkheim would claim that would be one of the result of a fusion revolution).
The negation of a statement is not the 'opposite' of it. That's not what I'm talking about. It is strictly true that if the negation of a logical statement is false then the statement is true. The other factors are accounted for by the negation. If the negation can't be shown to be exactly false you're talking about a different situation.
Cut to the bone: You used the energy crisis and the economical fallout as an argument that supports the original claim that a "practically unlimited energy source" (the opposite of an energy crisis) would lead to more stable economy (the opposite of the result of the energy crisis). I showed that argument to be too simple.
3: Would we give fusion energy technology to dictators? Would we give fusion energy to the 2106 version of Iran? You know they could use the energy to enrich uranium. But as I said provide links and use that as arguments.
The political situation as such leans in the direction of giving them fusion power, yes. Given the offers of giving -fission- reactors. Since we don't give energy to dictators anyway I don't see how this is more than periperhally relevant.
The point was to show that the "proliferation" of fusion power and fusion power plants is not inherient of the technology itself but a political matter. It can serve different purposes. WIth Iran it would serve a security purpose, other purposes could arise and conflicts could arise because of that. It is too uncertain to make claims about how technology we don´t have yet will affect the world in 100 years.
4: Has the green revolution lead to a greening of Africa? Are we using the surplus crops in Europe to feed all the hungry around the world or to feed to our cattles so we can eat steak more often and to destroy the home markeds of third world countries?
No, because the technological improvements have not been successfully applied to all of africa. If the green revolution didn't happen there would have been substantially worst starvation, particularly in the indian subcontinent. Do you want to say that this isn't important?
No. Thats important too of course. I tried to illustrate the fact that, as you say, that the impact of technology depends on how it is applied. While the green revolution has been beneficially taken as a whole it has actually destroyed the food marked in some areas and probably destroyed lifes there.
5: New technologies didn´t in itself transform our cities and societies. It was used by man, through political and sociological processes, to transform. The technologies don´t in themselves decide how they are used. Did Bohr know how Fission would be used? Could anyone in 1920 really say HOW fission would change our world?
Einstein knew what he was suggesting when he suggested the bomb. Thomas Edison said that he would make electricy so cheap that only the rich would burn candles. Technologies -enable- certain realities, and couple with an understnading of human nature and motives, you -can- predict where certain technologies will likely go.
I disagree. Did Einstein predict that fission would lead to a bipolar conflict that never materialised in a hot war due to the huge costs such a war would have on the world? Did Edison predict the computer revolution? You cannot predict history especially not from technological progress alone. That was given up after WWI...
6: ITER gives work to those who is hired on the project as you write. I haven´t touched that. Why make more claims than that?
Because make-work arguments are stupid and silly, and if the only expected economic benefit of ITER was to be for the physicists working on it there isn't much justification. The -reason- why governments are investing so much money in it is because the expected economic benefits warrant it. Because expected economic benefits are justifiable and relevant to encyclopedia articles discussing multibillion dollar scientific projects. Danielfong 21:03, 4 June 2006 (UTC)
But that is all you really can be sure of. Especially with a project that runs so many years into the future. I expect positive outcomes from ITER and I think it is a good idea to use the money on the project. But I would not invest my pension money on it... 22:02, 4 June 2006 (UTC)


"a fission reactor contains about a year's supply of fuel (100 tons of uranium and plutonium)" =>shouldn't this state 'nuclear reactor'. Sure it should. The only way i see those elements fissable is through a HE-pulse/shock of energies we can only dream of yet. --Slicky 09:49, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Nuclear fission involves uranium and plutonium, no? - mako 09:58, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
I don't at all understnad what you're talking about. 'Nuclear reactor' was synonymous with 'nuclear fission reactor' until nuclear fusion reactors started gaining prominence. Now, if you say nuclear reactor on a page on nuclear FUSION, you're being ambiguous, so fission reactor is stated instead.
And uranium and plutonium split just fine. You hit them with slowish neutrons. Then they split and release more neutrons. It's a chain reaction. Look up the nuclear fission page. Danielfong 09:24, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

Don't evangelise!

The section "Limitations to mainstream sustainable energy proposals" is close to embarrassing. --Alistair

I agree, it is pretty evangelical sounding. However, I think something like it in the article is necessary to reply to the even more embarassing attacks put forth. Have you read the windfarm proposal? Unbelievable. The article should correctly represent all sides. It just happens that the attacks themselves happen to be misrepresentations... Danielfong 11:31, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Better? Its so hard being unbiased! Maybe a more apropriate title would be "fusion power vs mainstream sustainable energy proposals"? Also, what is the windfarm proposal? I have not heard it - mastodon 17:41, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
I see. The way you've formatted it make the subtle problems more obvious. A real proof that fusion should be a better method of power production requires an actual quantitative analysis. The original paragraph was simply trying to show that:
a) Other renewable energy proposals cause environmental problems
b) That they would not, for several reasons, be able to economically produce enough power for much of society.
c) The windfarm proposal was totally rediculous. The current us electricity demand is 501,405 MW ( Greenpeace is suggesting that we remove our research program and replace it with an alleged production capability of 10,000 MW of offshore windfarms. There are so many problems with this it isn't funny.
i) It is doubtful that these figures are even correct. Certainly they supply only intermittently.
ii) Offshore windfarms are far more expensive than they account for (the difficulty of engineering an offshore platform is TOTALLY neglected in the windfarm proposal!), due to the construction of an offshore platform for each farm, or they are clustered.
iii) Clustered windfarms are -really- bad! These have the effect of cutting out wind, like a forest calms the air. Past a certain point, adding windturbines doesn't increase productive capability! This is completely ignored.
iv) You can't find an actual engineered or designed proposal for this anywhere. Constrast -this- with ITER, which has been designed up the ying yang.
v) We completely lack the industrial capability to suddenly change all of our new energy production to wind turbines. This would take many years to design and develop and deploy. It's not something we can just -do- right now. If you wanted to set up a 10,000MW offshore windfarm, the expertise doesn't exist.
vi) Sucha vast undertaking has huge environmental consequences too. It would alter airflow nearby. It would alter migration patterns. Birds would get caught. Servicing this would be required, this requires fuel. It will be energetically costly to even put the thing up in the first place.
vii) 10,000 MW isn't even remotely close to what the world uses, and wouldn't make so much as a dent in relative carbon emissions. Fusion, when running, will provide energy essentially unlimited by fuel, with a minimal environmental impact. It remains to be seen if it will actually be more economical than coal or oil. It is probable that it will be more economical than the other renewable energy proposals. It does not make sense to trade this chance for an inconsequential amount of intermittent power!
I'm not sure what the procedure is to get this across. Does NPOV make sense if one party has a completely rediculous position? The page on holocaust denial isn't particularly neutral.Danielfong 18:43, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Here is another update. This is the france "wind vs nuclear" article they have released. I'm afraid there is no substance, and the methodology isn't there the critcize. The first graph is completely bizarre. I have no idea what's going on, or why the energy production of wind ramps up like that.
This is a decent, real article. It is on offshore windfarm in the north sea.
The following paragraph is very telling:
"Is Offshore wind power economic? If offshore wind installations have to carry the burden of

the grid extension to new offshore fields, it will be up to 60% more expensive to install than onshore as the costs of foundations and connections to the grid are much greater. However balancing this are the much higher resource yields - shown to be 40% more energy than for 6 equivalent coastal installations and the much longer hardware lifetimes due to reduced turbulence. This means relatively high-capacity offshore wind farms in waters near the coast would already be economic within existing European renewable promotion mechanisms. However, if governments accept that the extension of grid to unlock these fields is part of sustainable infrastructure development then grid extension would be absorbed in the transmission costs (as is the case with conventional power facilities on land). This would reduce costs by up to 1/3 and make off-shore wind an aggressively competitive form of energy in Europe."

As you can see, this is an artificial inflation of the economic viability of wind power. Let's replace 'grid-extension' with 'basic fusion research': "if governments accept that research in fusion is part of then fusion research would be absorbed in the production costs (as is the case with conventional power facilities, like coal, oil, nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, etc.). This would reduce costs by up to x/y."
There are no actual engineering proposals which I can find from greenpeace. They are not obvious. I suspect they are not publically accessable, or otherwise do not exist.
This is a document called "Wind Force 12". It's apparently currently unavailable:
This is a horrible document that the Sierra Club of canada sent to our prime minister. It may have played a role in Canada pulling out of ITER:
This is the worst part. It's a complete perversion of facts. Here we go:
"CLAIM: ITER will provide “cleaner energy for our plant” (the slogan of ITER Canada)
FACT: ITER is not clean. ITER will produce 30,000 tonnes of radioactive waste that will be deadly for 100 years. The project will also release large amounts of radioactive tritium, which causes cancer and birth defects if absorbed into the body. ITER will not produce any energy.
Not only that, it will require huge amounts of electricity to operate, peaking at 500 megawatts several times a day (the capacity a Pickering-sized nuclear reactor). This will further stress Ontario’s already strained electrical system."
This: "ITER will produce 30,000 tonnes of radioactive waste that will be deadly for 100 years." is completely false. Nothing close to 30,000 tonnes of radioactive waste will be produced. Most that will be produced is extremely low level waste that is roughly as radioactive as coffee or concrete. Much of the rest has a half-life substantially below 100 years. There are no radioactive byproducts in the traditional sense, the components simply become activated over time. After ITER is completed, the tokamak is simply decomissioned. This is not a 30,000 ton reactor, it is much closer to 100. It will not be very radioactive. Existing nuclear plants go through the same procedure. The pickering power plant (also near clarington, ontario, one of the potential sites) will produce orders of magnitude more waste over the lifespan of the experiment.
There are NOT ANY PLANS TO RELEASE TRITIUM! WTF! There are several (JT-60, TFTR, JET, T-15) experiments which have used tritium, and they haven't leaked tritium. Certainly not 'large amounts'. It's not even very bad for you. It doesn't get 'absorbed' into the body like many other radioactives - it gets bound into water like other hydrogen isotopes and basically gets pissed out eventually. If a kilogram (which would be a HUGE leak) was released into the water supply of Clarington, it would disperse to not far above background (less than twice background) on the order of hours. Further, there aren't studies showing that tritium 'causes cancer and birth defects if absorbed into the body'. Chemically it's identical to hydrogen. The only problem is radiation, and it disperses very quickly. It's even extremely easy to detect (just use a gieger counter...).
"ITER will not produce any energy." Also completely bogus. It simply won't produce electricity for the power network. This is because it would -interfere- with science. We -know- how to produce electricity from heat! We don't need to muddle our experiment with an added power plant! That's stupid! None of the regions have an energy deficit now -anyway-.
Finally, "Not only that, it will require huge amounts of electricity to operate, peaking at 500 megawatts several times a day (the capacity a Pickering-sized nuclear reactor). This will further stress Ontario’s already strained electrical system". Egad. It won't 'peak', like this. The power is stored, drained slowly off the grid, and put into a series of flywheels, batteries, and capacitor banks. I am not sure if the power drain would be a problem in Clarington, but it -certainly- wasn't, or isn't, in Japan or France. This was a -very- simple requirement which the coalition had. It certainly isn't fundamental.Danielfong 19:31, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
This is covered at WP:NPOV. The idea is that the beliefs of experts are what is presented, and the relative coverage of different viewpoints depends on the fraction of experts that support each viewpoint. Mostly this comes up when trying to deal with fringe science and pseudoscience, but it's applicable here too. I'd also point out that most of the comment in the ITER article should be about ITER itself, not fusion power or renewable energy, though. --Christopher Thomas 18:49, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
Who qualifies as an expert here? There aren't any criticisms from people who actually work in fusion on the page. The criticisms are leveled at ITER, but they're essentially criticisms of fusion research, not of the machine itself. We don't hear people complaining that they should be funding a spherical tokamak...Danielfong 19:34, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
For topics relating to science, generally experts are people who have several peer-reviewed publications in well-respected scientific journals, or who have otherwise established themselves as having a reputation for respectability among scientists. For topics related to engineering, things get murkier, but a rule of thumb would be "people who other experts take seriously". Widely known popular views are also considered notable enough to mention as popular views, though not to present as fact without experts backing them up.
You are correct in pointing out that most of this section doesn't actually apply to ITER specifically. It might be worth listing in point form the few objections that were in direct response to ITER, and moving the rest of the comparison to fusion power. --Christopher Thomas 19:41, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

The rewritten version of this section, while better, still comes across as being substantially biased. In particular, it gets the problems for solar power wrong, fails to mention fission power, and makes questionable assumptions in its statements about fusion power. Specifically:

  • It claims that solar power is impractical due to the amount of land area required. With a US power consumption of 500 GW, cited above, and 1% efficiency, and 10% duty cycle (about right for weather and night and angle of incidence), you end up needing about 500,000 square kilometres (a square about 700 km on a side if you're building this as one big solar farm). For comparison, the total land area of the United States is about 9,160,000 square kilometres, and the amount of arable land (mostly used for farmland) is 1,740,000 square kilometres. The main problems with solar power are that thick-film photovoltaic cells require more energy to manufacture than they produce in their lifetime, that other methods of solar power production (from thin-film cells to mirror farms and steam turbines) aren't cost-competitive with mainstream power sources at this time, and that widespread use of solar power would require upgrading the power distribution network in the US to distribute most power long distances, so that all national demand could be supplied by the plants experiencing good weather and daylight at any given time. The daylight requirement also means that a baseline number of plants of other types would be needed to supply power demands during the night.
  • It claim that fusion power plants are compact depends on a number of assumptions. The steam turbines in any heat-based power plant, be it fission, fusion, or fossil-fuel based, will be the same size, and take up the majority of the space in a fission plant. The size of a fusion plant compared to other plants for a given power generation level will also depend on the power per unit plasma volume produced, which is limited by magnetic field strength and stabilization problems (when the plasma's magnetic pressure becomes significant with respect to the strength of the magnetic field, turbulence in it becomes more difficult to eliminate), and which is lower for D+D fusion (the kind that doesn't require you to breed tritium). In the best possible case, where arbitrarily high magnetic fields and compact equipment are assumed, a fusion plant's reactor will be no smaller than a fission plant's reactor (which is basically a heat exchanger with fuel bundles in the intersticies, for about half of the types available). I'm skeptical of this compactness being achieved for fusion plants' reactors, but regardless, the rest of the plant stays big.
  • It is implied, though not directly claimed, that fusion plants would be cheap. Construction and maintenance costs would be directly comparable to those of fission plants, as both involve a relatively compact heat source connected to a conventional steam plant, and both have a heat source that gives off neutrons in copious enough quantities to turn the reactor core and first-stage heat exchanger into low-level radioactive waste. I'd therefore consider it more reasonable to use fission plants as a baseline for estimating how much a fusion plant would cost to build, operate, and maintain, rather than assuming it would be small and cheap.
  • Fission plants aren't mentioned as an option for energy prodution. There is enough accessible thorium to run breeder reactors more or less forever, so they're as "renewable" as fusion reactors (both fission and fusion plants consume fuel, and so aren't "renewable" in the strictest sense). They're competitive as an option because they can be built with well-understood technologies, have compactness comparable to the best possible fusion plant designs, have been demonstrated an ability to produce power on a large scale at a price comparable to (though not necessarily cheaper than) other mainstream forms of power generation, and produce very little waste (high-level radioactive waste is nasty stuff, but the actual amounts involved are tiny). This is probably the strongest competition fusion plants will face, so it's odd that it isn't mentioned in a section comparing fusion power to other forms of sustainable power generation.

All of that having been said, the rewrite is definitely a step in the right direction. --Christopher Thomas 19:36, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the kudos, I've edited some of your key points into the article. As interesting a discussion as this is, doesn't it seem beurocratic, having to discuss ideas here before putting them in the article? Wikipedia is a wiki afterall! But keep the ideas coming, you guys seem much better at research than me. mastodon 23:57, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
I'm making some factual edits to the section as it presently stands, and will then move most of it to sustainable energy and the rest to fusion power, as none of it applies to the ITER project specifically. Detailed discussion is best left at sustainable energy. More importantly, everyone involved in editing this should make an effort to cite sources for the facts quoted, because you're going to get asked for references the instant it's copied over, and I'm not in a position to devote a lot of time to researching this right now. --Christopher Thomas 06:21, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Errr, breeder reactors have a number of serious problems as well. There 'really is' a proliferation danger here. Also, for aneutronic plants, the economic and engineering situation probably wouldn't be very close to the nuclear reactor's at all. Getting to very high temperatures is 'difficult', but it's not impossible. With a much higher quality plasma and a much lower density you can lose much less power via radiation, and there or some ideas for heating the ions directly, through orbit resonances and so forth.Danielfong 15:01, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Misuse of bred radioactives can be limited by reprocessing the fuel on-site, and by building a small number of large plants rather than a large number of small plants. Countries that want to make bombs already know how to build breeder reactors, so stealing parts or plans isn't the problem.
Aneutronic reactors aren't happening, ever. I believe this has already been explained to you elsewhere, but the short version is that it's about a thousand times harder to get p+B11 working than D+T (Lawson criterion is that much worse). We can't even get D+T working usefully right now, after decades of engineering. Also, this "aneutronic" reaction isn't really aneutronic - the numbers I'd heard were for it to have somewhere around 1% of the neutron flux of D+T. This is enough to give you the same structural waste problems. --Christopher Thomas 07:48, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Ever makes that statement completely foolish. The P-B11 reaction has a considerably lower neutron flux than the 1% that you quote, even if you do it stupidly. Regardless, D-He3 is a much more likely candidate, which is still classified under aneutronic due to the massively reduced neutron flux over the D-T reaction, even if you do it stupidly (1% at a 50/50 mix, right? Well, take down the mix to 5/95 and it's now 0.01% If it's possible to much of the heating on the He3 alone then it will be reduced even more substantially (machine resonances/RMF? Radiowave heating resonances? Incoming He3 neutral beams?). There are many things you can do...) The must remember that the only reason we can't hit the lawson criterion in reactors like JT-60 and JET is that using a mix of 50/50 DT would destroy the reactor due to the neutron flux? It's a big deal.
There are -far- too many open questions for your statement to be reasonable.
I also disagree with your assesment of breeder reactors. It is a difficult industrial step to manufacture one of these and as more countries adopt the reactors it would become easier and easier to gain the political clout to start building one and hte industrial capability and scientific knowhow to build one. And I'm not sure what you mean by reprocessing the fuel onsite? Where are you going to store it? I'm interested in hearing what you have to say... Danielfong 00:47, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
If you're going to call my statements "completely foolish", it doesn't sound like you're terribly interested in a rational debate. You also seem to be getting very strange numbers for D+He3 reactions. At 50/50, 25% of your collisions are D+D, 50% are D+He3, and 25% are He3+He3. We'll assume He3+He3 has negligeable fusion cross-section. The fusion cross-sections of D+D and D+He3 are roughly equal. This gives 30% of the reactions as D+D. Both branches of D+D fusion give neutrons as a byproduct (energy just varies depending on whether the first D+D gives T or He3). You're getting one heck of a lot more than 1% of the D+T neutron flux per unit power produced. 1% is the upper end of the range for p+B11 fusion. Reducing D+He3 to that level would require a 1:10 D:He3 ratio. You're also overlooking the fact that He3 is hard to come by in industrial-scale quantities (it's about 10 ppb of the helium on earth). By comparison, uranium is in ppm quantities in _dirt_, and D is in hundred-ppm quantities in water. Economical sources require much higher concentrations than 10 ppb (or 10 ppm, for that matter).
As for practicality of achieving breakeven for p+B11 fusion, it's obvious that nothing I say can convince you. All I can do is point again to the fact that both magnetic and inertial confinement schemes are working right to the limits of materials technology, and have been in development for decades, and are still having great trouble doing something a thousand times easier than what you propose. Beyond a certain point, refinement of technology won't help you.
Reprocessing fission fuel means taking spent fuel rods, removing the neutron-absorbing fission products, and sticking the remaining material (the unburned U238 and Th232, and bred Pu239 and U233) back into the reactor. See nuclear fuel cycle. Various designs have been proposed for this. Doing this on-site means having the fuel reprocessing facility in the same building as the fission reactor, removing the need to transport fissile isotopes off-site where they could be waylaid for military purposes. The Integral Fast Reactor is one of the more ambitious proposals for this, using an electrochemical separation approach (similar to how copper is purified industrially). Other approaches exist (among other things, there's nothing stopping you from building a conventional breeder reactor and reprocessing facility on the same controlled-access site).
Manufacturing a breeder reactor is no more difficult than manufacturing any other type of fission reactor. You can use any conventional fission reactor to breed plutonium for weapons; you just get more of it with a reactor optimized for breeding. For that matter, a fusion plant would work just fine as a neutron source for breeding plutonium (any reduced-neutron-flux reactor can burn a purely-deuterium plasma easily). The tricky part is separating isotopes (needed even for a plutonium bomb if you want significant yield), and the technology for that has been widely available for decades. The way nuclear proliferation is prevented is by _monitoring_ of fission plants to ensure that naughty things aren't being done with them (they're big and hard to hide, so you know where they are and when they're active). --Christopher Thomas 06:48, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
If you're interested in having a rational debate, then I stand by my rejection of statements such as "Aneutronic reactors aren't happening, ever." It's not like aneutronic reactions are rejected by expert fusion researchers, many famed professors are keeping an open mind, and there haven't been any genuine theoretical bounds to make impossibility a closed issue. Saying that they won't ever happen would end such a 'rational' debate. Granted, completely foolish is harsh -- but it accurately represents my attitude towards that particular statement.
Structural degradation, especially for materials designed for low activation, is best measured in MW, not neutron counts. The D-D side reaction which immediately yields a neutron does so at a significantly reduced energy. While the D-D reactions are of a roughly comparable order of magnitude the cross-section is significantly below the D-He3 cross-section in many of the temperature regimes of interest. Further, the other pathway (D+D -> T +p -> T + D) is an issue that can be reduced substantially by cycling out the tritium (with the rest of the ash) or cycling out much of the material without much differentiation. This leads to the estimate of 1% as being generally accepted in the research community (although that's typically taken as the lower end of a 1-5% estimate, which is still obtained by rather conventional means, only varying the temperature). I can supply some links if you want.
P-B11 is a pie in the sky. I am not saying that it will be done, I am just extremely antagonistic when confronted with opinions masqurading as absolute, proven, scientific statements. There have been published, accepted, pushed, 'fundamental' results (eg: Rider's thesis) in the area which rely on assumptions which are -not- requisite for a P-B11 reactor. It's not scientifically sound to go around pronouncing soemthing as impossible if it is simply highly doubtful. I don't rest any hopes on P-B11 reactors, but the word is not closed.
There have been examinations into the idea of creating a D-He3 type plant which would not produce enough neutrons to be really useful in this regard (IE: optimizing -waaay- out of regions where D-D happens). In such a plant you specifically construct the thing to not be able to withstand high neutron fluxes, since there would be no need. You wouldn't be able to burn D-T without ruining the thing. You could then sell these reactors to nations, in a spirit similar to the SSTAR project, with a substantially reduced risk of proliferation. This encompasses of huge list of what-ifs, but is a potential if subtle counter example to your statement that "any reduced-neutron-flux reactor can burn a purely-deuterium plasma easily". AFAIK, this is still in the stage where the legitimacy of the project has not been hugely challenged.
I am admittedly green in the area regarding the technological production of nuclear weapons, so I will take your word for it that seperating isotopes is infact more difficult, despite my initial reaction that constructing such a device shouldn't pose -that- much of a technical challenge, and that finding enough material, with a legitimate sounding cover story, to actually breed enough plutonium to create a bomb, -without- having a nuclear plant, is more politically dangerous than the other option, that of mustering a 'peacetime' nuclear effort is technically difficult. I realise that breeder reactors, from a proliferation standpoint, aren't really going to be any worse than any other type of nuclear reactor. My point was that, one potential advantage of aneutronic reators is that they could neutralize a potentially volatile political bargianing chip, that of claming to require a peacetime nuclear program while hiding evidence of a weapons program. At minimum this threat should be recognized.
I hope that these thoughts are not misconstrued as being overly harsh towards breeder reactors. I also hope that my efforts to expand the general notion of fusion reactor in this context are not, perhaps, overly partisan or optimistic. ITER is designed to operate in a regieme which will yield information relevant to nearly all possible fusion power plants. Maybe it is a good idea to inform the public, via this page, that there -are- possible fusion reactors which will not produce so many neutrons or have the material difficulties that D-T tokamaks would face. Perhaps the difficulties and uncertainties are too complex for the public to digest. Is that enough to say that an acknowledgement in an NPOV encyclopedia article is unwarranted? Perhaps. I don't really think so.
I do think that your fusion plant/fission plant operational metaphor is a very good one. So good, in fact, that it may actually become the -dominant- way of percieving of fusion reactors. I think we -should- head off a potential misconception by saying that -not all- currently interesting designs must be percieved this way. Do you agree? Danielfong 16:16, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
To respond (belatedly) to your points:
  • The main reason I'm getting annoyed with you calling my statement re. p+B11 "foolish" is that to the best of my ability to determine, it would require either a completely new and heretofore unknown engineering approach to building a fusion reactor, or else some form of new physics, to make building a viable p+B11 power plant possible. It's that far away from the confinement parameters of any existing or planned test reactor. Statements that it's "not likely, but possible" to me sound similar to statements that FTL drives are "not likely, but possible" - i.e., while perhaps correct in abstract terms, they are extremely misleading when applied to a discussion of what would be expected to be a feasible engineering project within the next hundred years. Thus, my strong objections to your statement that p+B11 is in any way a contender. If there were any presently-known approach that would achieve conditions even close to those required for p+B11 breakeven, it would be easy enough to do D+T or D+D that by all rights we should have working reactors by now. If you're interested in having a rational debate, describe some of these approaches, and explain why they haven't been considered or wouldn't be usable for D+T or D+D, and aren't receiving large amounts of funding compared to D+T projects given p+B11's advantages.
  • I find your statement that structural degradation is a function of power puzzling, as that would only apply for situations where the damage mechanism is related to heating (sputtering of the lining and so forth). I'm already writing off the cost of replacing the lining as negligeable - other parts of the reactor will be far more expensive. The magnet coils and cryostat (or lasers, for ICF) are expensive enough that they'd *better* be behind adequte shielding to make neutron flux a non-issue. Maintenance lifetime of most of the reactor will likely be of the same order as any other power plant's components, for similar reasons (wear and corrosion occur in the heat exchangers and turbines, for a plant that drew power from shield heating).
  • Regarding 1% vs. 10% or 0.1% neutron flux, the absolute value isn't as great a concern as the fact that you _do_ get structural activation. In fact, flux ends up being considerably more than I'd originally thought (hadn't known that neutron emission per unit reactor power was far greater for D+T/D+D fusion plants than fission plants before I started researching it). Whether activated steel and concrete and whatnot will kill you in a day, or in a year, or just increase your risk of cancer substantially isn't something that society worries about - any material that's activated to a degree that it poses a significant health risk has to be treated as low-level waste and carefully stored, which is a (very substantial) expense that has to be added to the lifetime cost of the reactor, be it fission or fusion. This is actually one of my pet peeves, as sufficiently low-level waste would be a negligeable health risk if it was just broken up and spread around, but that's my own opinion, not the opinion of the lawyers and politicians who regulate such things. This is why I tend to be very skeptical of claims that low-activation construction and reduced neutron flux will make fusion plants free of activation-related waste (what they'll actually do is limit some of the damage mechanisms to the reactor structure and mechanisms, which is useful, but not the same).
  • Regarding low-neutron-emission reactors being useless for breeding, I don't see how it's possible to reduce the flux enough to accomplish this. To make it impossible to mass-produce nuclear weapons, sure, but a minimal bomb to threaten people with only takes a few kilograms of material at most (corresponding to a few tens of grams of detuerium worth of neutrons, due to the difference in atomic weight). If I were doing such transmutation, I'd line the whole reactor vessel with a thick layer of U238 and separate out the trace amounts of U239/Pu239 produced after leaving it to cook for a few months.
  • Regarding low-neutron-emission reactors not being able to burn D+D, any magnetic confinement reactor design I've seen proposed has been big enough that you could simply plate the interior with shielding blocks to adequately attenuate neutrons. Lining it with U238 to be transmuted would do this for you, though you'd need a very substantial amount if that's your only shielding mechanism. Also, shielding that can stop the hard x-rays emitted by the fusion plasma would be thick enough to stop neutrons (though heating would still be a concern).
  • Regarding isotope separation, it's _conceptually_ straightforward (by any of several methods), but building an enrichment plant capable of separating useful amounts of material at the required purity is very non-trivial. Hiding a facility like that is problematic, as is building one, given that the parts tend to be very tightly regulated and tracked. Any nation with the industrial base to build all of the parts themselves could easily build a breeder reactor or anything else they wanted. Inspections stringent enough to make sure they aren't could also easily verify that any neutron-producing fusion plant wasn't being used for breeding.
  • Regarding comparing fission and fusion plants from an operational point of view, I'd be happy with caveats being put in, but all of the designs being funded for magnetic confinement fusion would act this way. ICF fusion would have considerable volume and maintenance cost associated with the laser facility, and considerable cost associated with pellet preparation, but I haven't heard anyone pitch ICF for power generation (mostly for research into fusion itself, so far, from the impressions I've been getting). The Z machine would probably fall into a similar category.
Regards, --Christopher Thomas 07:20, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
  • The statement wasn't toward P-B11, it was toward aneutronic fusion, which also includes D-He3 reactors. The Lawson criterion is not nearly so impossible in this case, and is typically regarded as aneutronic. There are many reactor prototypes and research programs which -are- being funded with an eye towards burning D-He3. Comparing these reactors with FTL drives -is- foolish. The temperatures required to burn D-He3 have already been achieved (in the Z-machine at Sandia). There aren't any identified insurmountable challenges ahead. It's an epic technical problem, to be sure, but you don't have to break any laws of physics, and we might reasonably see it in 50 years.
  • Structural degradation due to fast neutrons is much more strongly a function of neutrons causing secondary emission and destroying molecular structure than activation. This is mostly a function of neutron power.
  • If you have 0.1% the structural degradation, you can run the machine one thousand times longer before replacing anything. You replace the structure one thousand times less. That's fairly significant economically, and probably can be spun as such in terms of public relations (by comparing to radioactive isotopes released to the air from coal or somesuch)
  • Your plan for breeding U-238->P-239 wouldn't exactly work -- you'd need to at least keep the U-238 away from the vacuum vessel or you'd lose all your energy to radiation losses. If you're only interested in breeding a few kgs of the stuff there are far easier ways to do it than to build (or buy) a fusion reactor.
  • I'm not sure that plating the interior of a reactor would actually yield a working reactor. At minimum the reactor concept that our research group is working on currently wouldn't really allow this due to the presence of flux conservers in the vacuum chamber and the elongated linear design. You'd need like two metres of shielding in most of the power plant designs i've seen to be effective. There isn't nearly enough room in many of the things I've been for that. Maybe we're thinking about a different level of shielding? Even with a minimal amount of shielding you'd still screw up the delicate balance of the reactor and you probably wouldn't protect much though.
  • It's not true that "all of the designs being funded for magnetic confinement fusion would act this way". There is an enormous community of people working on ICF for power generation. NIF just happens to be useful for stewardship research as well. Further, direct energy conversion (without using a steam plant) is a funded sector of research, albiet far away from the billion dollar class budgets that tokamak fusion gets, but still respectable. I think it's of general interest and importance to keep the public informed about the full range of fusion research. The Z machine was desinged for research into X-ray materials research, but it might turn out that Z-pinches or some modification of them are actually quite decent for power generation. Not enough is known. Danielfong 14:41, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Last section is not NPOV

These three paragraphs are not NPOV — they state POVs which are unattributed and in many cases very weasely. They need to be re-worded and cited so it is clear WHO makes these assertions, WHO is dismayed, etc. Until then this page cannot be considered NPOV. The paragraphs in question are in the "responses to criticism" section:

The assertion that ITER is "not a job generator" is both false and would not constitute a fair argument even if it were true. ITER will provide employment for hundreds of physicists, engineers, material scientists, construction workers and technicians in the short term, and likely thousands of power plant operators in the long term (as part of the global fusion effort). Whether it does or not, however, should not have a bearing on whether it is a worthwhile scientific investment, given the inestimable benefits that would accrue to humankind (and the planet) if fusion power could be harnessed for peaceful purposes.
Handling the energetic neutron flux is one of the primary missions of ITER, and the only reasonable experiment to test ideas for handling the intense neutron flux is to create a burning plasma. The purpose of ITER is to explore the scientific and engineering questions surrounding fusion power plants, such that it may be possible to build one intelligently in the future. It is nearly impossible to get satisfactory theoretical results regarding the properties of materials under an intense energetic neutron flux, and burning plasmas are expected to have quite different properties from externally heated plasmas. The point has been reached where answering these questions about fusion reactors by experiment (ITER) is an economical research investment, given the monumental potential benefit.
Many environmentalists who endorse ITER and fusion projects feel frustrated and isolated by comments such as "In the next 50 years nuclear fusion will neither tackle climate change nor guarantee the security of our energy supply". Worst among misgivings is the certainty implicit in such statements. If and when fusion is finally made commercially viable, the greenhouse gas emissions problem will be entirely reduced to an energy storage and transfer problem, as power generation will be done in a greenhouse gas-free manner. Whether this happens twenty, thirty, fifty, or a hundred years from now does not significantly affect whether or not pursuing it is worthwhile, because only fusion and fission power would be sufficient for projected demand. If renewables were supported while fusion and fission were not, the remaining power demand would have to be obtained from conventional power sources, further worsening climate change. Furthermore, renewable sources of energy often have environmental issues of their own (such as wind power or water power) and the power output of such installations is often ignored when compared to conventional sources of energy. For example large wind turbines can produce up to 5MW whereas a large fossil or nuclear fuelled power station can continuously produce 200-300 times that amount. Once fusion is available and widespread, there will be no natural fluctuations in the energy supply, because there will be no significant fuel bottleneck: a large component of future fusion-reactor fuel can be extracted from seawater.
I don't understand how the 'jobs creation' factor even comes into the discussion of energy sources! To me it seems totally irrelevent... if we were to get 100% efficient solar energy tomorrow that could power the entire world for free, but it didn't create a single job, would we therefore refuse it?! Conversely, why not remove all mechanical diggers from all the world's coalmines and replace them with thousands of people with buckets and spades...think of how many jobs that would create! I'm sorry, but I think the whole job numbers consideration is madness.

I don't have strong feelings on the issue, but to state these evaluations/estimates as just "facts" is incompatible for Wikipedia's neutrality policy. --Fastfission 19:40, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

  • I don't think so. See, biodiesel, hydrogen, solar panels, whatever your green head suggest you a particular day, are not renewable enery sources. Solar panels degrade with time and need to be replaced, hydrogen escapes from tanks, biodiesel is very expensive to produce and its production quickly depletes the soil, and so on. Truth is, energy sources are not renewable by definition. The only thing you can do for the environment is to try to burn the most abundant elements available and the ones that produces the less waste. Fusion power will be a great thing in this sense, but without research, it will never happen. -- Femmina 03:11, 22 July 2006 (UTC)
I'd have to disagree with you there. Fundamentally "Renewable Energy" is possible because of a sustained net energy input from the sun which is only depleted at a constant, (as yet) unchangeable rate. Many organic processes completely fit the definition of providing renewable energy because a symbiotic relationship is formed with other organisms that convert the waste products from the original organism back into raw materials, thereby completing a sustainable cycle (e.g. O2 -> CO2 -> 02). In the same way, if solar panels could be periodically restored in a totally closed-loop, solar-energy driven recycling process, then they to - after creation - would be providing a completely renewable form of energy. The same goes for Wind Turbines and hydro-electric plants (etc.) which all indirectly get their energy gain from solar power. As I hinted though, organic entities however have the advantage that they have found a sustainable way to construct their renewable power-plants, whereas we are yet to for any major power-generation method.
On that note though, fusion power could infact be made "renewable" if a solar-power induced process could turn the waste helium back into hydrogen! Canderra 05:05, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

I took a shot at rewriting the last paragraph, and added a supporting sentence to paragraph 1. Let me know what y'all think. Pro crast in a tor 04:18, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

It looks like you've done a decent job but it does lack of sources in some areas. Proponents can say whatever they want but we need references is we want to cite their responses. Also, femmina seems to be missing the point. You can believe whatever you want, we still need to abide by NPOV so we can't present things as facts just because femmina believes they're facts Nil Einne 04:19, 30 September 2006 (UTC)


I added China's new EAST fusion reactor (that just went on line in September, 2006) to the list of reactors ITER will build on. 17:16, 21 October 2006 (UTC)

Decommissioning a reactor

Criticism section says: "Maintaining and decommissioning a commercial reactor may thus be difficult and expensive." I don't see a response to this claim in Response to criticism except for "If fusion ever becomes commercially viable, greenhouse gas emissions [...] could be completely eliminated [...] without long-term nuclear waste issues." I'm not an expert, I first heard about ITER 15 minutes ago, but would like to know how the issue of decommissioning a reactor would be solved... --Dijxtra 15:20, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

Fusion reactors will certainly create waste, but will create less (and less "hot") waste than currently existing fission reactors. So dealing with the radioactivity is not a new problem. - mako 02:17, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
The "hot" waste from fission reactors consists of the spent fuel, and the core of the nuclear plant. The spent fuel is by far the hardest to handle, as it remains radioactive for centuries (actually, pretty much forever, but by about 1000 years it's not much worse than the original uranium). The plant, by contrast, is very radioactive for a time after decommissioning, but doesn't stay that way for more than a few decades.
With a fusion reactor, the spent fuel is not radioactive - it's just helium gas. Only the plant itself will be radioactive, and like fission plants it won't stay that way for extended periods. However, in the immediate aftermath of plant shutdown the core will be very radioactive, meaning that disassembly will probably have to be done by robots and require very secure containers for transportation and storage. This will add to the cost. --Robert Merkel 03:32, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

Good article

This is a very good article. Perhaps you can put it through peer review, standardize things according to the manual of style / layout stuff, and give it a thorough copyedit in preparation for a featured article bid. This is pretty informative. The more references the merrier, so good luck to you. --Zeality 22:50, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

The Criticism and Response to criticism sections should be dissolved, though. Stuff from those sections should be incorporated into the rest of the article. Wikipedia articles are not pro/con arguments, fights, or discussions.
For instance, if environmentalists claim that the reactor will produce nuclear waste when the reactor is irradiated by neutrons, I want to read about that in the part of the article that describes the structure being irradiated by neutrons, not in a completely separate "criticism" section. If the supporters say it's necessary to build ITER in order to test materials that can withstand such radiation, then that should appear immediately after the criticism; not in yet another completely separate section. — Omegatron 20:00, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Disagree. Criticisms section is a common practice in other articles. Plus amount of waste from neutron radiation largely dependent of materials used. TestPilot 20:58, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Just because it's a common practice doesn't make it a good practice. It's accepted by many because it's most important to have the information, regardless of format, but it's not something that should be in a featured article. See Wikipedia:Criticism#Criticism in a "Criticism" section.
amount of waste from neutron radiation largely dependent of materials
Wouldn't it be best if all the information about neutron radiation and its effect on materials was grouped in the same place? — Omegatron 21:53, 21 November 2006 (UTC)


How big is this fusion reactor going to be? I don't think I saw a size description...

Depends on what you mean by "size". Reactor size? Complex size? Besides, those aren't really the important details. It'll be as big as it has to be. Phædrus 16:50, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Incorrect, this is definately a concern. This is to be 15% smaller than the DEMO system, so is the housing large enough to be recycled for that project? One of the Lyndon laRouche type criticisms of previous projects was they were too small to be successful. --21:30, 5 March 2007 (UTC)-G

How many members?

The first paragraph says that there are "10 member nations" and in the corresponding section it says that "there are seven national and supranational parties". Can somebody clarify this?

þħɥʂıɕıʄʈʝɘɖı 19:42, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

Quantum underworld?

Is this NPOV? "Aspden...advances theoretical and technological knowledge, which has been ignored for more than 40 years by the current scientific paradigm and the industry interests...". I don't see here a link to the source of this seductive concept, but even though the idea may be fairly placed among criticisms, surely it justifies wording: "...which he asserts has been ignored..." - and possibly a link to a non-ITER article where this possibly-disputed (but most hopefully usable!) 'knowledge' is clarified. 10:01, 23 November 2006 (UTC)

Aspden is one of many misunderstood geniuses, all of whom have their own new theory of physics that is being crushed by the establishment and "industry interests". Many of them have their own Wikipedia articles, and Aspden is no exception. Wikipedia has several sections dealing with free energy, and with very unconventional scientific claims. Aspden can be discussed there. Aspden has no connection with ITER, his views about ITER are not notable, they are irrelevant to the article. PerpetuumMobile 17:03, 23 November 2006 (UTC)
No need for paternalism or irony. Aspden's work may be controversial, but he is a notable and respected old physicist and engineer, member of the scientific community (Institute of Physics and his academic curricula). Part of his work on electromagnetism, electrostatics, electrodynamics, nuclear fusion (hot and cold), the quantum field, etc., and of his predicitions related to fundamental particles is published in serious, notable mainstream journals since 1951 (eg. 9 papers in @Physics Letters A since 1972; 24 papers in Europhysics Letters, former Lettere al Nuovo Cimento since 1975; etc.). This British physicist has also several published books of Physics (search into his site and in and several patents. His long and verifiable curriculum makes him a notable and credible European scientist (WP:VERIFY, not WP:OR) who has addressed the issue of nuclear fusion in several occasions; So, his direct and strong criticism to (hot) nuclear fusion reactors (of which this ITER in Europe is now the reference mark), even recently in 2006, cannot be taken lightly and deserves to be given the due weigth (WP:NPOV) in the appropriate section: Criticism. Thanks. -- 22:37, 23 November 2006 (UTC), from Portugal.
oh snap. i think that's FTW. andy 02:20, 24 November 2006 (UTC)
Sadly, editions like these [8] - [9] show how even a wonderful project as Wikipedia, with its meritorious WP:Five pillars foundation, falls in front of the DOGMA and the Intellectual Arrogance which runs deep into all our current world [the auto-proclaimed "Society of Knowledge"...]. Justice be made to Prof. Neal Grossman words: "what does need to be explained is the academic establishment's collective refusal to examine the evidence and to see it for what it is. The academic establishment is in the same position today as the bishop who refused to look through Galileo's telescope. Why is this the case?". Goodbye. -- 04:08, 24 November 2006 (UTC)


I tried my best to read the article, and this one question came to mind. Is this supposed to do anything? I am pretty sure that it is creating heat energy, but I believe it said that this will not be created to electric energy. So is this thing being made just to observe the process, and not to create any useable energy?

ITER is a "burning plasma experiment" with physics and technological goals. The main physics goal is to run the plasma above ignition threshold at Q of 5 to 10. The main technological goal is the testing of tritium breeding modules. "Is this supposed to do anything?" It's supposed to answer the last questions and bring us as rapidly as possible to the demonstration plant, DEMO, that will generate electricity and breed its own tritium. ClaudeSB 06:51, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Original name

In the introduction it says that the original long name was dropped because of negative connotations of thermonulear and experimental. Can anybody explain what is negative about the word experimental? 16:47, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Experimental is probably okay, but thermonuclear sounds to the rubes like a bomb.
Atlant 18:38, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Is the reason even true, is there a source for it? I find it capitulating and pathetic that such a change would be made for that reason. --Deglr6328 06:51, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
Capitulating and pathetic...yep, but quite likely nonetheless, see MRI#Nomenclature for instance. Sewebster 20:33, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

GA on hold

  • The lead is way too long, for an article this size 2-3 paragraphs is sufficient, (4 is max) Remember it is a summary of the article which information will be cited in the body.
  • I saw one or two citations in the middle of a sentence
  • Years alone should not be wikilinked
  • The references arent formatted properly, check {{cite web}} for more information
  • awful lot of external links, perhaps cut a few down
  • One citation needed tag
  • Objectives section is fairly listy
  • There's alot of 1 sentence paragraphs, try and merge them
  • The article needs a good copy-edit, taking random sentences,
  • As it stands now, the proposed costs are €10 billion for the construction of ITER, remove 'as it stands now'
  • A French association including about 700 anti-nuclear groups, remove 'about'
  • The criticism section is poorly written
  • Three of them (Russia, Europe and Japan) already have made , remove 'three of them' and just put the countrys down.
  • "Governments should not waste our money on a dangerous toy which will never deliver any useful energy," said Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace International. "Instead, they should invest in renewable energy which is abundantly available, not in 2080 but today." Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace International stated'Governments should not waste our money on a dangerous toy which will never deliver any useful energy. Instead, they should invest in renewable energy which is abundantly available, not in 2080 but today, sounds better
  • is well known for saying: "We say that we will put the sun into a box. The idea is pretty. The problem is, we don't know how to make the box." remove 'well' and that will need a citation
  • [18]) citation should be outside.

This wont stop it from GA status, but the less red-links there are the further this article will get.

I will return in one week to see how this is going, but these things should keep you busy, i also suggest you ask someone from wikiproject physics to do a copy-edit. Read this [10] which will help remove weasel words and such. Good-luck i will watchlist this and answer questions and such. M3tal H3ad 13:30, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

This article is inactive, no edit in almost two weeks. I'm failing this, feel free to re-nominate for GA when issues are addressed. M3tal H3ad 09:22, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

Thermal Waste Heat

Of course ITER is a experiment, but the thermal waste heat from conventional power plants is a concern, won't Fusion power plants like DEMO have this concern also? Shouldn't this be addressed?---G 21:33, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Fission plants also have the waste heat problem. ITER's waste heat problem was addressed in a similar manner. An inexpensive and ecologically friendly heat dump was part of the requirements for a location for the experiment. --Cedric Tsui 21:51, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

according to the ITER website ITER Will undergo Full Scale Electricity Production please amend! or at least mention it

Heat waste is a very common thing in our world. Since this is only 500 MW at max and other power stations are on the order of 1000 MWe / 33% = 3030 MWth dumped to the environment (PER UNIT!) it clearly shouldn't be an issue. But they'll probably go overboard overengineering it anyway. -Theanphibian (talkcontribs) 07:59, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

first sentence

The use of the word "between" in the first sentence of the article seems awkward and ambiguous to me. I suggest revising the first sentence this way: "ITER is an international tokamak (magnetic confinement fusion) research/engineering proposal for an experimental project that will help to make the transition from today's studies of plasma physics to future electricity-producing fusion power plants." Bill (talk) 17:00, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

Made the change.Bill (talk) 22:39, 18 January 2008 (UTC)


Hello, I proose to include the picture bellow:

Internal view of the JET tokamak superimposed with an image of a plasma taken with a visible spectrum video camera. © EFDA-JET
Picture? There's no picture.

copyrighted image removed - WilliamH (talk) 21:34, 3 June 2008 (UTC) ThVa (talk) 11:29, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

--Mhsb (talk) 11:37, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Objectives section

I think the phrase "Ignite a burning plasma" should be changed, I thought a burning plasma was one where fusion events could occur and an ignited plasma was where the reaction could self-sustain? Kelleycs01 (talk) 13:05, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Quoted outut of ITER's successor, DEMO, is inconsistent with DEMO article by a factor of 4

The DEMO article claims that it intends to put out 2 GW and ITER inly 500 MW. The ITER article says DEMO will put out 500 MW. Well, which is it? Shame on the idiot that doesn't know basic arithmetic! ThVa (talk) 11:23, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

Citation and confirmation of 500MW

at Is this sufficient? Pete01 (talk) 19:02, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

i also found sources for this on the iter-website, took me 2 minutes. i consider the 500 MW-output more or less solid information.

but this doesnt help us, we know that iter produces 500 MW and that the statement about DEMO must be wrong, but i couldnt find anything about the energy-output of DEMO. on the wikipedia-article about DEMO it says that iter produces 500 MW and that DEMO will produce four times more energy (= 2000 MW), but i cannot find any sources for that.

we could just use the information from the wikipedia-article about DEMO and hope that it is correct, or we leave it as it is, at the moment the mistake is obvious in the article that maybe someone starts looking for sources because of this. Kurtilein (talk) 21:46, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Demo output power

Regarding the output power of DEMO: it will be capable of producing 500 MW of electrical power. The 2 GW is the power generated from the fusion reactions. Of this 2 GW only 500 MW will be converted to electrical output power. ITER will produce zero electrical power (the 500 MW are from the fusion reactions but they will not be used to produce any electrical power). Take a look at the following link: (talk) 10:26, 25 June 2008 (UTC) Miguel Silva

Charged particle moving in a magnetic field

The article claims

A charged particle moving through a magnetic field experiences a force perpendicular to the direction of travel, resulting in centripetal acceleration, thereby confining it to move in a circle.

If I remember my Lorentz force law the force will be in the direction of the cross product between the velocity vector and the magnetic field vector. I.e. if it moves in the direction of the magnetic field lines, it will not experience any force. Thus I will claim it is not correct to claim that a charged particle will generally experience a force perpendicular to the direction of travel. Comments are welcome Snailwalker | talk 18:32, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

You gave as an example the only situation where the charged particle will not experience a force perpendicular to the direction of travel. In any other situation it does experience. Will the particle move in a circle? Only if the initial direction of travel is perpendicular to the magnetic field and this field is constant (in intensity and direction). Otherwise the path of the particle is more complex (an helix for example). (talk) 14:50, 29 July 2008 (UTC) Miguel Silva

Current status/progress?

Could someone put up a section with how far the project has progressed? Electron9 (talk) 01:40, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

Escaped tritium will not float away

The "response to criticism" section claims that, in the even of an accident, tritium would rise up into the stratosphere. This does not seem right. Hot tritium would quickly combine with atmospheric oxygen to form tritiated water vapour, susceptible to precipitation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:48, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

Why would the tritium be hot? The only place where non-trivial amounts of tritium may be found is outside the reactor in some kind of storage container, waiting to be used as fuel. Tritium emits very weak(18 kEV) beta radiation as opposed to the >1 MeV radiation from most decays in the radon-218 decay chain and potassium-40. A few grams of tritium as found in the tokamak at any one time does not pose a significant health hazzard even if it where to be oxidized and released. (talk) 19:41, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
A gram of tritium has 9,800 curies. With a US drinking standard of 20,000 pCi/L, this can contaminate 400 billion liters of water. Not impossible to handle, but a significant challenge, especially in an R&D environment. Paul Studier (talk) 22:54, 24 October 2008 (UTC)


I may have misunderstood, but does this artcle (in the section on funding) describe the EU as a "country"?? Europe is, believe or not, composed of lots of little countries, with different names and stuff, and different governments. Is the EU paying 50%, or is the host country paying this (i.e. France!)?. 6 July 2005 20:47 (UTC)

Very sorry, I edited the section twice when I wrote it and "country" somehow slipped in - I changed it to member. The agreement states that the host will pay for 50 % - I think of these 50 % a large portion will come from France - this is not definite right now, it will be around 10-20 % of total costs (= 20-40 % of the EU's contribution). Themanwithoutapast 6 July 2005 23:39 (UTC)
The EU is not a country, but the EU has a government and a budget. The EU pays 30 %. -- (talk) 01:51, 21 June 2009 (UTC)