China to Contribute $1.4 Billion to Nuclear Fusion Project

Investment represents 10% of cost of the reactor which is to be built by 2016

China will be a major contributor to an international nuclear fusion project that aims to emulate the power of the sun to provide limitless clean energy, state press said Jan. 9. The 10 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) would make up about 10% of the cost of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) to be built in France and expected to go online by 2016, the China Daily said. "The goal of the project is to find a shortcut to solve our energy shortages," the paper quoted Luo Delong, vice head of the ITER China Office.

Half of China's contribution is expected to be spent during the 10-year construction phase of the project located in Cadarache, France, it said.

The experimental fusion reactor is a project backed by the EU, Japan, China, Russia, the U.S. and India. The project aims to research a clean and limitless alternative to dwindling fossil fuel reserves by testing nuclear fusion technologies. Instead of splitting the atom -- the principle behind current nuclear plants -- the project seeks to harness nuclear fusion: the power of the sun and the stars achieved by fusing together atomic nuclei. If it is successful, a prototype commercial reactor will be built, and if that works, fusion technology will be rolled out across the world.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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