ITER fusion reactor
The reactor that will be able to produce electronuclear energy without risk of explosion or radioactive waste is called Iter (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) and is based on nuclear fusion.
The project was supported by China, Japan, Russia, United States and the European Union (with the collaboration of Switzerland). As a possible location for ITER two European Union places have been proposed (Cadarache, in France, and Vandellòs, in Spain), as well as Clarington, in Canada, and Rokkahomura, in Japan. The decision will be made by the end of 2004 and the construction works will start between 2005 and 2006. It will take a long time to build it: the building will end after 10 years, and the first electricity GW will be not be produced before 2050.
The ring-shaped core of Iter reactor is called Tokamak, it is made of metal and has 6.2 m radius, it is empty inside and it is surrounded by magnets. It will allow to heat a gas made up of particles like deuterium and tritium, i.e. hydrogen isotopes (the mixture is called plasma), until extreme temperatures (hundreds of millions of degrees) are reached first with an electric power source and then by injecting electromagnetic waves (like in the microwave) with a million watt power. The heat will make the particles move rapidly, crash with a sufficient strength, overcome repulsion and melt. At such high temperatures, no material is technologically able to resist and inside the ring-shaped core magnetic confining is used, i.e. magnetic fields that act around the plasma in order to keep it far enough from metallic walls.
The problem is that so far the energy produced with these experiments (for example in Great Britain in Joint European Torus, JET) has not even compensated the energy wasted to heat the plasma.