Are scientific and industrial ideas about commercial nuclear fusion reactors in the near future just wishful thinking?
At Iter in the south of France, seven international partners have pooled their financial and scientific resources to build the biggest fusion reactor in history. Their aim is to resolve critical scientific and technical issues, and take fusion to the point where industrial applications can be designed. In the Observer this week, Alok Jha writes from the Iter construction site.
But concerns have been voiced about the large number of unsolved technological problems relating to fusion, and the huge efforts necessary before a large commercial breeder prototype can be designed.
Joining Ian Sample are Nicola Davis, commissioning editor of Observer Tech Monthly, and Professor Steve Cowley, director of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, and down the line from Switzerland we have Dr Michael Dittmar, a researcher with the Institute of Particle Physics at ETH Zurich.