An international project in nuclear fusion may face years of delays. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) project seeks to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy.
Installed at a site in southern France, the decades-old initiative has a long history of technical challenges and cost overruns.
Iter’s previously stated goal was to create the plasma by 2025.
Pietro Barabaschi, the project’s director general – told Agence France-Presse the date “wasn’t realistic in the first place”, even before two major problems surfaced.
One problem, he said, was wrong sizes for the joints of blocks to be welded together for the installation’s 19 metres by 11 metres (62ft by 36ft) chamber.
The second was traces of corrosion in a thermal shield designed to protect the outside world from the enormous heat created during nuclear fusion.
Fixing the problems “is not a question of weeks, but months, even years”, Barabaschi said.