• Ashley Haga

Scientists working to create 'star' as source of unlimited, clean power

As of right now, scientists in France are creating, or at least trying to create, a "star"-like reactor, which, if properly designed, could pave a way to an unlimited source of clean energy forever. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is the official scientific term for the project. The reactor aims to recreate the process that powers our sun, where elements are fused under extreme temperatures, releasing massive amounts of energy in the process.

The ITER team, which recently finished the installation of the first of many major components, aims for the reactor to be fully operational by the year 2025. The engineering challenges the team faces are huge: for example, ITER must acquire a core temperature of at least 150 million degrees centigrade in order to function. For comparison, our sun has a core temperature of 15 million, so the end goal is a lot of heat for a lot of energy.

ITER would also not produce the same types of long-existing hazardous wastes as traditional reactors and could not create the kind of disastrous chain reactions seen in Chernobyl in 1986.

ITER is a collaboration between multiple countries, with the European Union responsible for the largest portion of construction and engineering costs at 45.6%; the remainder is shared equally by China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the US, with 9.1% each.

Despite the complexity of ITER, it also uses some surprisingly traditional methods to generate electricity. "All these high energy techniques are just a very fancy way of boiling water. To transfer heat from whatever particles are coming out of your nuclear reactions, you still need to convert that into electricity," Auckland University physics professor David Krofcheck told Newshub Nation.