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article imageU.S. budget bill doubles funding for ITER nuclear fusion project

By Karen Graham     Mar 27, 2018 in Science
The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that President Donald Trump signed into law on March 23 ended up preserving many of the scientific initiatives the White House wanted to kill, including funding for the ITER nuclear fusion project.
In the Omnibus Appropriations bill, Congress agreed to double U.S. funding for its portion of the contribution to the multinational nuclear fusion project from a scheduled $63 million to $122 million.
In 2017, Washington cut the U.S. contribution to ITER from a scheduled $105 million to $50 million, and this year planned on cutting the contribution to $63 million, reports Reuters.
“This is a very positive signal ... it will prevent ITER having to announce project delays in 2018,” ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot told Reuters in a telephone interview.
It also may have helped that the head of the multinational nuclear fusion project was in Washington in Early December for talks with President Trump's administration, including Energy Secretary Rick Perry to uphold America's commitment.
With 95 percent of design work  53 percent of manufacturing and construction  and 17 percent of ship...
With 95 percent of design work, 53 percent of manufacturing and construction, and 17 percent of shipping and deliveries completed for work scope related to initial operation, the project has passed an important milestone.
ITER
Of particular concern to Bigot was the supply of components supplied by American companies for the project. Cuts in the budget would cause delays in assembly. "If the American components do not arrive in time, the whole project will be delayed," Bigot said.
More than 600 U.S. companies, laboratories, and universities are participating in the ITER project. Much of the 9 percent of the budget the U.S. funds go to suppliers in the member states—in the case of the U.S. that includes General Atomics, which is building the central solenoid, an 18-meter (59-foot) electromagnet that's powerful enough to lift an aircraft carrier.
The White House wanted to kill ARPA-E, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. ARPA-E is a U.S. government agency tasked with promoting and funding research and development of advanced energy technologies. It is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. The ITER project would have been killed.
The ITER magnets will be the largest magnet system ever built.
The ITER magnets will be the largest magnet system ever built.
ITER Project
The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) was launched well over a decade ago and is a multinational partnership between the European Union, the United States, China, Russia, Japan, India and South Korea to build a prototype fusion reactor to generate electricity in a process similar to the nuclear fusion that powers the sun.
On December 7, 2017, Director-General Bernard Bigot wrote a top-level communication to officials in the governments of the participating nations, saying the 50 percent completion milestone for the ITER project had been reached, "The passing of this milestone reflects the collective contribution and commitment of ITER's seven Members," he wrote.
ITER member countries can make cash contributions or contributions in-kind, such as components or other parts. These parts are then shipped to France and assembled on ITER’s Cadarache, southern France site. However, there are cash contributions needed, and the U.S. part was 30-32 million euros per year in the 2016 to 2018 period or about 100 million euros, Bigot said.
More about ITER, omnibus budget bill, doubles funding, department of energy, Nuclear fusion
 
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