Saturday, 22 January 2011

All the World's Tokamaks

Here is an impressive list of the tokamaks built all over the world during the last 50+ years!

All-the-World's Tokamaks.  Note the careful and meaningful use of the punctuation.!

It took the author a lot of time to collect and present this mass of  information.  It would never have been possible without the support of the global fusion community and it is used by fusion engineers all over the world as a repository of historical technical information.

The machines on this list range from the size of compact disks (yes - CDs, like DVDs and Blu-Ray disks!) to the massive, record breaking, European project, JET.

Of course the standard 'industry joke' in fusion research tells you that "Fusion is 30 years away and it always has been".  That's both funny and true (up to now), but with the global tokamak reactor experiment ITER being constructed at last (at least 20 years too late), I believe it is time to believe that fusion power is possible within our lifetimes.

Those who take that joke seriously should ask themselves a searching question about the funding of technical research.  When was the last big tokamak built?  The answer is that it was about 30 years ago (yes - the magic 30!), and JET is the one machine from that era that is still state-of-the-art, and being upgraded yet again as I write.

[Yes - you read that correctly.  30 years old and state-of the art. ]

My question to them is to ask how they would expect to get progress without the political will to invest in a new machine more than once in a generation.  Only serious investment will bring the only credible 'giga-watt scale' alternative energy scheme to fruition.

I'm sure I will mention this subject again.  The World NEEDS fusion (or else something magical that nobody has yet conceived).  Fusion needs ambitious funding, not the pittance that it gets today.  And by itself, fusion is not enough, but it is a vital part of the future energy portfolio.

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