World's largest fusion reactor project sees its base positioned in "a new record in history"

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PARIS, May 29 (Xinhua) -- After two days of delicate work, the 1,250-ton soup bowl-shaped cryostat base -- the heaviest single piece -- of the International Thermonuclear Fusion Experimental Reactor (ITER) was positioned in the so-called tokamak pit near Cadarache in southern France, marking the official start of the main equipment installation of the largest international scientific research cooperation project in the world, a Chinese group participating in the project told Xinhua on Friday.

The tokamak is an experimental machine designed to harness the energy of fusion.

"The base was placed into its position with very high precision. The success of this unique, one-of-a-kind operation wrote a new record in our history," a spokesperson of China Nuclear Power Engineering (CNPE) told Xinhua, referring to the exciting moment on Thursday when the first and heaviest component of the ITER machine was positioned.

The base is one of the most crucial components of the 30-metre-deep, 30-metre-in-diameter ITER cryostat, which will act as a thermos, insulating the magnetic system at cryogenic temperature from the outside environment.

"With the installation of the first major machine element, humankind was taking a decisive step toward the realization of fusion energy. And by providing clean, safe and unlimited energy, fusion has the potential to alter the course of civilization," said ITER in a press release.

The ITER project, second only to the International Space Station in scale, is reputed as an "Artificial Sun" mainly because the way it generates energy can be likened to the way the Sun emits light and heat. It is jointly funded by the European Union, China, the United States, Japan, South Korea, India and Russia. Enditem

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