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International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor

Why in News?
The Indian scientists have made their presence felt in the global quest to build the first nuclear reactor (ITER) by developing the FSW method.

What is ITER?

  • ITER is the world’s largest experimental fusion facility, being developed in France. It is the most complex science project in the human history which was started in 2010.
  • The reactor is being developed to be able to use hydrogen fusion, controlled by superconducting magnets to produce massive heat energy.
  • The nuclear fusion facility is an international cooperation among the European Union, Russia, USA, Japan, India and South Korea.
  • It is the first industrial scale nuclear reactor and is all set to introduce the ways to produce clean, cheap and abundant energy for millions of years to come.
  • It is scheduled to start generating a molten mass of electrically-charged gas, ‘Plasma’ inside a core by 2025.

What is FSW method?

  • The Indian scientists have demonstrated that the friction steel welding (FSW) technique can be used to join the hard steel components used in nuclear fusion reactors.
  • The FSW method is an improvement on conventional techniques such as the fusion welding technique, in the fabrication of steel components. The Indian scientists used RAFM steel (Reduced Activation Ferritic Martensitic) for the purpose.

Conventional nuclear energy produced in reactors in several countries, including India, uses the fission reaction. In this process the uranium atom is split in a reactor to produce energy. Uranium, thorium and other hybrid fuels are used to produce nuclear power. But, these fuel resources are finite. Hence, the search for establishing the fusion process for energy production is set to open new avenues of energy sources which will meet the requirements of present generations but also the future generations sufficiently.

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