|From "The World Set Free", a science-fiction novel by H.G. Wells, 1914: 'And so,' said the professor, '... Radium is an element that is breaking up and flying to pieces. But perhaps all elements are doing that at less perceptible rates. Uranium certainly is.... And we know now that the atom, that once we thought hard and impenetrable, and indivisible and final and--lifeless--lifeless, is really a reservoir of immense energy. ...This little bottle contains about a pint of uranium oxide; that is to say, about fourteen ounces of the element uranium. It is worth about a pound. And in this bottle, ladies and gentlemen, in the atoms in this bottle there slumbers at least as much energy as we could get by burning a hundred and sixty tons of coal. If at a word, in one instant I could suddenly release that energy here and now it would blow us and everything about us to fragments; if I could turn it into the machinery that lights this city, it could keep Edinburgh brightly lit for a week. ...We stand to-day towards radio-activity as our ancestor stood towards fire before he had learnt to make it. He knew it then only as a strange thing utterly beyond his control, a flare on the crest of the volcano, a red destruction that poured through the forest. So it is that we know radio-activity to-day. This--this is the dawn of a new day in human living. At the climax of that civilization which had its beginning in the hammered flint and the fire-stick of the savage, just when it is becoming apparent that our ever-increasing needs cannot be borne indefinitely by our present sources of energy, we discover suddenly the possibility of an entirely new civilization. The energy we need for our very existence, and with which Nature supplies us still so grudgingly, is in reality locked up in inconceivable quantities all about us. We cannot pick that lock at present, but----we will.' ...'Then that perpetual struggle for existence, that perpetual struggle to live on the bare surplus of Nature's energies will cease to be the lot of Man. Man will step from the pinnacle of this civilisation to the beginning of the next. I have no eloquence, ladies and gentlemen, to express the vision of man's material destiny that opens out before me. I see the desert continents transformed, the poles no longer wildernesses of ice, the whole world once more Eden. I see the power of man reach out among the stars....'|
|Comments by Francis Aston, physicist and Nobel laureate (1936): "So, no doubt, the more elderly and ape-like of our prehistoric ancestors objected to the innovation of cooked food and pointed out the grave dangers attending the use of the newly discovered agency, fire. Personally I think there is no doubt that sub-atomic energy is available all around us, and that one day man will release and control its almost infinite power. We cannot prevent him from doing so and can only hope that he will not use it exclusively in blowing up his next door neighbor."|
|In a press release, 30 Jan 2003, President G.W. Bush stated: I am pleased to announce that the United States will join ITER [definition: "the way" in Latin.], "an ambitious international research project to harness the promise of fusion energy. The results of ITER will advance the effort to produce clean, safe, renewable, and commercially-available fusion energy by the middle of this century. Commercialization of fusion has the potential to dramatically improve America's energy security while significantly reducing air pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases. The United States will be working with the United Kingdom, other European Union nations, Russia, China, Japan and Canada on the creation of ITER. Today, I am directing the Secretary of Energy to represent the United States at the upcoming ITER meetings in St. Petersburg, Russia. We welcome the opportunity to work with our partners to make fusion energy a reality."|
China To Build Its Own Fusion Reactor, Beijing (UPI) July 1, 2005
Days after France was chosen as the site for an experimental nuclear reactor based on fusion technology, state media said Friday China will build its own. The six nations participating in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project reached agreement in Moscow to construct the first fusion technology facility at Cadarache, near Aix-en-Provence, France. The ITER project, aimed at developing fusion-generated electricity, was formed by the United States and Japan in the late 1980s. China joined in 2003. The European Union (represented by Euratom) will pay 50 percent of the projected $12 billion cost of the experimental facility while the United States, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea will each contribute 10 percent.
Construction at the French site is expected to begin soon with the first fusion energy experiments possibly starting in 2016. Scientists believe it will take at least 50 years before the first commercial use of ITER goes on line. In the meantime, China has decided to take data from the international project and build its own fusion plant. Quoting an unnamed "leading Chinese plasma physicist" it interviewed Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency announced: "The ultimate goal of Chinese scientists is to build thermonuclear experimental reactors with their own efforts." The anonymous source who made the statement claims to have access to the ITER project. "International cooperative endeavors like the ITER make us keep abreast of the world's most advanced technologies," the source said, adding: "We're entitled to share all top-notch know-how once we entered the global consortium." Once the decision was made in Moscow, Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Xu Guanhua stated, "As China is short of energy, global research endeavors for energy supply solutions meet our strategic interest."
The Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Plasma Physics is developing an ITER prototype, an Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak, costing $24 million, and scheduled for completion later this year, the government-controlled agency said. It did not mention where the site was located, but analysts have a good idea where to look. The Xinhua article Friday said China had independently built its "own sophisticated devices in thermonuclear reaction," and that "Chinese scientists started to develop a fusion operation four decades ago in mountains southwest of inland Sichuan province." Analysts note that much of China's nuclear research has been conducted in Sichuan because of a policy decision made by Mao Zedong in the 1960s known as the Third Line. The goal was to locate key defense industries in provinces far from possible attack by the United States or former Soviet Union.
The September-October 2003 issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists said China's chief nuclear design lab run by the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics is located in Minyang, Sichuan. The province also has nuclear weapon assembly-disassembly facilities in Zitong, a plutonium production site in Guangyuan, and a uranium enrichment plant in Heping.
If successful, the next test of the EAST reactor will operate at over 212 million degrees F and produce electricity for 1,000 consecutive seconds, state media said. An official with the CAS Bureau of Basic Research stated, "The EAST is the prototype closest to the ITER and will be unbeatable in at least a decade." An article from the flagship Communist Party newspaper People's Daily in September 1999 noted China was building an experimental nuclear fusion device, the Tokamak HL-2A, on the outskirts of Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan. One perspective on Friday's announcement is that while China is willing to participate in a global consortium attempting to bring the dream of fusion driven electricity to reality, it is also keen to take what it can grab in the quest for energy independence.
NY TimesNovember 22, 2006
WORLD BRIEFING | EUROPE
France: Countries Agree to Pursue Fusion Energy By JOHN TAGLIABUE
Representatives of the United States, the European Union, China, India, Japan, Russia and South Korea signed a $12.8 billion agreement to build an experimental nuclear fusion reactor to try to produce safe, clean and inexhaustible energy using the same process that lights the Sun. The project, ITER, for International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, will be based in Cadarache, about 40 miles from Marseille, and follows years of talks.