International Tokomak Fusion project delayed another ten years and will cost $4 billion euro more and there are better energy project choices

The international ITER project to build a prototype nuclear fusion reactor will be delayed by more than a decade and faces another 4 billion euros of cost overruns, its director told French daily Les Echos.

ITER chief Bernard Bigot said the experimental fusion reactor under construction in Cadarache, France, will not see the first test of its super-heated plasma before 2025 and its first full-power fusion not before 2035.

“The previous planning, which foresaw first plasma by 2020 and full fusion by 2023, was totally unrealistic,” said Bigot, who succeeded Japan’s Osamu Motojima at the head of ITER early last year

Bigot, the former head of French nuclear agency CEA, also said he expects the new delay will add 4 billion euros of cost overruns to the 14 to 15 billion euros estimated so far.

Nextbigfuture provided an update of the other nuclear fusion projects such as

  • General Fusion in Canada
  • Tri-Alpha Energy
  • Helion Energy
  • Lockheed Fusion
  • EMC2 Fusion
  • LPP Fusion
  • Dynomak Fusion
  • MagLIF at Sandia
  • Muon Fusion Japan

General Fusion and Tri-Alpha energy both have over $100 million in funding. Helion Energy has about $20-40 million in overall funding. They each are targeting earlier dates than the ITER project. A low technical risk project for revolutionizing nuclear fission is the Canadian company Terrestrial Energy who are developing a new molten salt nuclear fission reactor. The molten salt reactor project is low technical risk because a molten reactor unit with several MWth of power was built and operated for a few years. There were other smaller reactors as well. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) took the lead in researching the MSR through 1960s, and much of their work culminated with the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE). The MSRE was a 7.4 MWth test reactor simulating the neutronic “kernel” of a type of epithermal thorium molten salt breeder reactor called the liquid fluoride thorium reactor. The large, expensive breeding blanket of thorium salt was omitted in favor of neutron measurements. Canadian company Terrestrial Energy has secured CAD$10 million ($7 million) in Series A funding to support its program to bring its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) technology to industrial markets in the 2020s.
* No fuel fabrication cost or salt processing = extremely low fuel costs
* Ultimately could reach costs of 0.86 cents/kwh, first versions will be at 3 cents per kwh
* Right size reactors, right pressure steam
* Uranium usage will initially be 6 times more efficient than conventional reactors
* the reactor is passively safe
* Mature versions will be able to close the fuel cycle. ie. have virtually no nuclear waste – aka unburned nuclear fuel Later units that include electricity generation can still send steam for cogeneration (use steam for desalination or the oilsand production. This provides another revenue stream for the IMSR nuclear plants.

The 25 MWe version of the IMSR is the size of a fairly deep hottub