Insulator Developed for ITERCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: June 11, 2012 02:03PM
Across the planet researchers are working to access what may be the ultimate source of power for humanity; nuclear fusion. When two nuclei merge into one they release a burst an energy, according to the famous E=mc2 equation. The ITER project, an international project that includes the US as a partner, is trying to create the first commercially viable fusion reactor in Cadarache, France. Researchers at the University of Tennessee have recently tested a key part of the reactor, an insulating material that will also serve to support the central solenoid.
The material, a mix of glass fiber and epoxy, is not particularly easy to work with, as it has to be impregnated into the solenoid before it hardens. After two years of development though, and two days for the impregnation process, the epoxy hardened in the researchers' mockup of the real part for ITER exactly as they wanted it to.
Now the technology developed at UT will be sent to General Atomics in San Diego, which is an ITER industry partner, and is responsible for the construction of the central solenoid. The only bad news about this story is we still have to wait until 2020 for ITER to be fully operational.