Though the foundations have been laid, construction
of ITER is being delayed by the complicated way in
which contracts are dealt with.


Fusion project struggles to put the pieces together

Contracting woes may cause further delays for €15 billion ITER effort.

Geoff Brumfiel
26 October 2012

The world’s largest scientific project is threatened with further delays, as agencies struggle to complete the design and sign contracts worth hundred of millions of euros with industrial partners, Nature has learned.

ITER is a massive project designed to show the feasibility of nuclear fusion as a power source. The device consists of a doughnut-shaped reactor called a tokamak, wrapped in superconducting magnets that squeeze and heat a plasma of hydrogen isotopes to the point of fusion. The result should be something that no experiment to date has been able to achieve: the controlled release of ten times more energy than is consumed.

That’s the dream. But so far, ITER has been consuming mostly money and time. Since seven international partners signed up to the project in 2006, the price has roughly tripled to around €15 billion (US$19.4 billion), and the original date of completion has slipped by four years to late 2020. Many of the delays and cost increases have come from an extensive design review, which was completed in 2009.

Read more: Fusion project struggles to put the pieces together : Nature News & Comment.

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