China Will Train 2,000 Experts In Nuclear Fusion

China has pledged to train 2,000 skilled experts to carry out research on nuclear fusion.

AsianScientist (May 26, 2011) – China has pledged to train 2,000 skilled experts to carry out research on nuclear fusion, according a new report by the China Daily.

The 2,000 scientists and technicians will be trained over the next 10 years in magnetic confinement fusion (MCF), and be dispatched to work on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in France, said Cao Jianlin, vice-minister of science and technology.

The ITER reactor, which is currently under construction in Europe, is mainly supported by the European Union, and experts hope it will help them learn how to effectively produce power through nuclear fusion.

The new type of reactor has been described as an “artificial sun” because it creates conditions that are similar to those occurring in solar nuclear fusion reactions. Unlike today’s nuclear power plants, which split atoms in nuclear fission reactions, the experimental reactor in France will attempt to fuse smaller nuclei together into larger ones, a process that unleashes huge quantities of heat and light.

China is contributing ten percent of the funding for the project but is only supplying five percent of the scientists working on the initiative. Among the 21 Chinese people taking part in the project are 17 in skilled positions and four in management roles, according to the latest data released by the ministry.

Signed in November 2006, the ITER Agreement came into effect in October 2007 and has an initial duration of 35 years, although it can be extended for an additional ten years. The United States and the Soviet Union initiated the ITER project in the mid 1980s and China has participated since February 2003.

According to the China Daily report, Chinese engineers and scientists will be responsible for building components, such as heating, diagnostic and remote maintenance equipment, as well as transporting it to the ITER reactor at Cadarache, France.

But the two main challenges faced by Chinese researchers include international cooperation abilities and foreign language skills, said the report.

“We urgently need to build a system for training researchers in both universities and institutes nationwide,” Cao said.

Guidelines jointly released in April by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Education, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the China National Nuclear Corporation recommend that the government subsidize at least 200 PhD degrees in magnetic controlled fusion.

A total of 1,254 researchers are currently involved with MCF-related projects in China.

In addition to its international efforts, China is also pursuing its own research into fusion technologies within the country, such as at a laboratory in Chengdu.

Likewise, the U.S. has spent billions of dollars on nuclear fusion research. Similar to China, the US has footed around nine percent of the project’s costs, with the European Union taking on the bulk of the financing.

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Source: China Daily.
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