News

    Seven Nation Group to Pursue Fusion Energy Research

    The United States and several other nations have signed a $13 billion agreement to develop a form of nuclear power in a process called fusion. They will cooperate to build an experimental reactor intended to mimic the way stars make energy, with the hope that the research will eventually lead to a plentiful supply of cheap, clean and safe power.

    The seven-party consortium brings together the United States, the European Union, Japan, Russia, China, South Korea, and India to build the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER for short, in southern France.

    At a signing ceremony in Brussels, U.S. delegate Raymond Orbach said the project will be carried out on an unprecedented scale for the betterment of a world dependent on fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.

    "ITER has the potential to free the quickly growing global economy and population from the looming constraints of decreasing energy supplies and the unfortunate effects of environmental degradation," said Raymond Orbach.

    ITER began with an agreement at the 1985 U.S.-Soviet Geneva Summit. It was one result of a plan to develop joint activities to help reduce Cold War tensions. Other nations joined later.

    But Congress ordered the government to withdraw in 1998 because it considered the original reactor design too expensive. Faced with a sharp drop in the budget, the remaining ITER members redesigned the reactor at half the cost, making it attractive again to the United States, which rejoined in 2003.

    Raymond Orbach says fusion is the energy that powers stars.

    "The fusion process is one of the most powerful ways of producing energy that nature has devised," he said. "As examples of that, I simply suggest you look at the stars and realize how our sun is powered. So what we are trying to do is to take advantage of this quite remarkable property of nature that literally keeps us alive."

    In fusion, the nuclei of light elements, such as hydrogen, fuse together inside stars to make heavier elements, such as helium. The fusing process gives off tremendous amounts of energy.

    Using fusion to generate power there would be none of the greenhouse gas byproducts of the sort fossil fuels emit. Nor would fusion produce radioactive material as does the other form of nuclear energy, called fission. The source of hydrogen for the energy-producing reaction would be water.

    The ITER reactor will use doughnut-shaped magnetic coils to induce an electric current in a mixture of charged particles, making conditions hot enough to create fusion reactions like those inside stars.

    Plans call for the eight-year construction of the reactor to begin next year after the parties formally ratify the agreement. Officials hope to have the unit working by the year 2040. They predict that if all goes well, fusion could provide 10 to 20 percent of the world's energy by the end of the century.

    But environmental groups oppose the project. At the Washington branch of Friends of the Earth, Eric Pica says the program is a tremendous waste of money for the slight hope of producing fusion energy.

    "You can make better investments by investing in renewable energy and energy conservation," said Eric Pica. "We know these things will save energy and reduce our fossil fuel dependence now."

    But Raymond Orbach, the Department of Energy's science director, says not pursuing fusion research would be an outrage.

    "We would be telling our world population that they do not have a chance of achieving the standard of living that the rest of us enjoy," he said. "That is how serious it is if we do not pursue this opportunity."

    The European Union's Science and Research Commissioner, Janez Potocnik, told the Brussels signing ceremony that ITER is a new model for large-scale global scientific and technical cooperation.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora