Europe steps up nuclear fusion project

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Europe steps up nuclear fusion project

The European Commission is boosting its nuclear fusion research project by allowing scientists to access Europe's consortium of supercomputing centres, and connecting them together to form a giant supercomputer network.

The Distributed European Infrastructure for Supercomputing Applications (DEISA) will allow scientists working on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) nuclear fusion project to harness huge amounts of processing power for their research.

This, in turn, will give researchers the ability to better model complex processes while simulating the operation of a fusion reactor.

Nuclear fusion, which occurs naturally in stars to release huge amounts of energy, has been achieved artificially in the past, but the process has yet to be properly controlled.

If brought to heel, it could revolutionise the way governments think about their energy supply, and provide an alternative, clean and sustainable form of power generation.

Nuclear researchers from across Europe, as well as Japan, China, India, South Korea, Russia and the US, will work together on the US$9.3bn ITER project with the goal of developing a fusion reactor to be set up at Cadarache, in the south of France, within the next decade.

Europe's information, society and media commissioner, Viviane Reding, said in a statement that she expected the new partnership between DEISA and the European nuclear-fusion community to make an "enormous contribution to nuclear fusion's potential as a viable energy source, and power Europe's role in this quest".

Reding added that the moves showed "how pooling its best scientists and infrastructures helps Europe's scientific community remain at the forefront of global research".

DEISA was granted €26m (US$34m) by the European Commission in 2004, and proceeded to continue the development of its Géant computer network which distributes and shares Europe's supercomputer processing power for research and academic projects.

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