South Korea Unveils Test Reactor in Search of Limitless Energy

Aiming to be world leader in fusion technology

South Korea on Sept. 14 began operating a nuclear fusion test reactor using an advanced superconducting magnetic system, as part of an international search for a limitless clean energy source. Seoul hopes the reactor, developed over 12 years at a cost of some $330 million, will make it a world leader in fusion technology.

The Ministry of Science and Technology said the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) reactor will be a pilot device for the planned International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France. Representatives from the EU, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. last November signed a pact on the construction of the $12.8 billion ITER reactor, whose technology aims to emulate the power of the sun.

The Ministry said that that KSTAR is the world's eighth fusion energy test device. "But it is the first to use tin-based superconducting cables that can make magnetic fields three time more powerful and stable than the previously used niobium-titanium system," he said.

South Korea already uses conventional nuclear power stations to provide 40% of its power needs.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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