​China undertakes core project of 'artificial sun'

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The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the organization in charge of building the world's largest "artificial sun", and a Sino-French consortium led by China Nuclear Power Engineering officially signed a vacuum chamber module assembly contract on Feb. 29. 

The project of 'artificial sun.' [Photo by Liang Chen]

ITER Director-General Pietro Barabaschi, ITER Deputy Director-General Luo Delong, Chinese Consul General in Marseille Dong Guangli, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) Deputy General Manager Shen Yanfeng, CNNC Deputy Chief Economist Wang Delin and other senior officials attended the contract signing ceremony.

According to the contract, China once again undertakes the installation task of core equipment of the "artificial sun" project after successfully installing its core equipment.

The key part of the project of "artificial sun" was assigned to China, which reflects the high degree of trust that the ITER has in the Chinese team. Barabaschi said that China has made great contributions to ITER in terms of technology and manpower. China has a strong team of highly skilled construction talents at the construction site. The Chinese team has undertaken the core device installation contract and is trustworthy.

Shen said that the signing of the vacuum chamber module assembly contract means that the Sino-French consortium has become the only contractor for the current host installation of the ITER project. 

This is CNNC's in-depth participation in the division of labor and cooperation in the global nuclear industrial chain, building a new development pattern. And this move will greatly increase China's participation and contribution in major international scientific projects and assist the "three-step" development of nuclear energy strategy, Shen added.

The ITER project is jointly implemented by China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States. It is one of the largest and most far-reaching international scientific projects in the world today.

In September 2019, the Sino-French consortium signed a TAC-1 installation contract with the ITER, marking the beginning of China's in-depth participation in the installation of the core equipment of the Tokamak device, the "heart" of the experimental reactor. 

During the execution of the contract, the project team always upheld the spirit of international cooperation, achieved safe production, overall quality control, and finished a series of major tasks. 

In November 2023, Barabaski said that from the delivery of key components to the installation of the core device, China is a trustworthy partner of ITER program. He thanked China for its firm commitment and long-term support and looked forward to continuing to deepen cooperation with China.

It is understood that the vacuum chamber module assembly is currently the most important piece of equipment on the critical path of the ITER project and plays a vital role in the success of the entire ITER project. The vacuum chamber module has a total of 9 sectors, which are completed and delivered separately. The total planned installation period is 35 months.

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